After the Vikings blew a lead in Chicago in September, their defensive starters dressed slowly after the game. They spoke quietly, using gallows humor as salve. They shook their heads, commiserated, and, in interviews, hinted at dissatisfaction with the defensive play calls that may have cost them an important victory.

Sunday, the defensive veterans reprised that scene. They again looked confused, if not dismayed, on a last-minute, game-losing drive. They lingered in the locker room after their teammates had left, slowly knotting ties and softly grumbling. This time, they spoke their minds.

“There’s some things that are going on internally that are not allowing us to close out games,” defensive end Brian Robison said.

“I think we could have been in better situations at the end of the game,” defensive tackle Kevin Williams said.

For most of the Vikings’ 27-23 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, the Vikings’ front four hassled Tony Romo into mistakes, helping protect a secondary winnowed by injuries.

With the Vikings leading 23-20, the Cowboys took the ball on their own 10 with 2 minutes, 44 seconds remaining. The Cowboys scored in nine plays. Romo threw the ball nine times, completed seven passes and was not sacked.

Williams and Robison noted that the Vikings coaches, presumably defensive coordinator Alan Williams, abandoned the plan to pressure Romo. The play calls required defensive linemen to drop into coverage. Romo, given time, shredded the Vikings secondary.

At the end of the Bears game, the Vikings secondary was left out of position, leading to the winning touchdown pass. On this Sunday, an angry group of defenders seemed unhappy with the work of both play-callers: Williams and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

Musgrave’s play-calling is often curious. Sunday, he at least emphasized the running of reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.

So when the Vikings got the ball with 4:29 remaining, holding a 23-20 lead, you could almost hear the Vikings defenders calling from the sideline for Peterson to continue to batter a worn-down defense.