Dallas 27, Houston 13: Big D Doesn’t Mean Dead

Mike Jenkins and the Cowboys may have saved their season by winning at Houston.

The Cowboys’ 27-13 win over Houston was hardly perfect. In fact, early mistakes were enough to make one 39-year-old youngster throw a fit, turn off the television, and listen to the rest of the game on the radio. It was apparently good luck.

On that radio broadcast, Brad Sham referred repeatedly to the Cowboys drooling on themselves, meaning that every time the Cowboys did something positive, they would end up making a dumb mental error.

What the Cowboys did against Houston was to overcome those mistakes by making big plays on both sides of the ball when it mattered most.

Case in point #1: Early in the second quarter with the score tied at zero, the Texans faced a 3rd-and-19 play. Matt Schaub handed the ball off to Arian Foster on a draw, and Foster was able to cut back to his left and race 21 yards to give Houston a first down. A 26-yard catch-and-run by Andre Johnson gave Houston a first down inside the 10. From there, though, the Dallas defense stiffened and forced a field goal.

Case in point #2: Right after the touchdown, the Cowboys ran a screen pass to Felix Jones that would have gained 32 yards to near midfield. However, a penalty on Miles Austin negated the gain and moved the Cowboys back to their own 10. Tony Romo responded by hitting 9 passes on a 13-play drive to move Dallas into scoring position. Marion Barber’s touchdown gave the Cowboys a lead that they never surrendered.

Case in point #3: The Cowboys had extended their lead to 17-3 by the end of the third quarter thanks to a David Buehler field goal (yes, that David Buehler) late in the first half and a touchdown from Romo to Roy Williams (yes, that Roy Williams). Houston drove the ball down to the Dallas 1 early in the fourth, and Dallas had to be mindful that Houston had come back from a 27-10 deficit a week ago at Washington. On a crucial series, Dallas held Houston on two downs before Keith Brooking blitzed and sacked Schaub for a nine-yard loss. Houston settled for a field goal.

On the next drive, Romo found Williams on a short slant after the defender had fallen down, and Williams raced all the way to complete a 63-yard touchdown.

The Cowboys only converted 4 of 11 third-down plays, not counting penalties, but the four plays were huge. Three of the conversions came on the Cowboys’ first TD drive as Romo hit Williams, Austin, and Dez Bryant on pass plays to keep the drive alive. Sam Hurd had the other third-down reception on a TD drive in the third quarter that ended with Williams’ first touchdown. He had the biggest game as a Cowboy, catching 5 passes for 117 yards.

Barber ran well and once again got to play the role of closer. With the Cowboys leading 24-6, the team recovered its first fumble of the season. Barber carried the ball seven times on a drive that ate more than five minutes off the clock. Buehler’s second field goal extended the lead to 27-6.

Houston was able to score late, and Martellus Bennett helped to keep the Texans’ slim hopes alive by muffing an onside kick attempt. However, Danny McCray ended the game by recording his first career pick.

With losses by the Redskins and Giants, the Cowboys trail only the Eagles in the NFC East. This bye week may be bearable after all.

  • Jason Neighbors

    Whew!! You just never know with this team. I hope they don’t get full of themselves again. Anyway, two 90 yard TD drives is damn impressive. How about Roy Williams. Could he be turning the corner? Could he be turning into the player we’ve been praying for and then lost all hope? Do we dare hope for this team? Dez Bryant will be special. Romo looked like Romo again. We finally caught some breaks. Maybe even Buehler has found his groove.  Tennessee is still a must-win game though, too. But today was big. This was like a playoff game for Houston, and we whupped ’em.

  • Agree on all points, Jason. Logic would have suggested a Dallas loss, but this game had a similar feel to the New Orleans game from last year (and that’s what Wade said after the game). Roy and Dez came up huge. Roy used the same move off the line (jab step to the outside before cutting up) on both of his touchdowns, and the corners on both plays were left out of position. Dez could have had over 100 yards had a couple of the plays gone his way. It would be nice if the Cowboys just didn’t make as many mistakes instead of having to overcome them, but I’ll take this any day.

  • Mike Little

    Okay,kneejerk homer reaction time boys.This win will propel Dallas to a 5-3 halfway mark.There I said it.Of course I only predicted the first three games with Ferris Bueller   over confidence impeccably wrong.Or is that David Buehler new found swagger?Well,anyway the kid was 3 for 3,including being iced by Uncle Wade on the first 67,I mean 47 yard field goal attempt.Way to go kid.This game means a ton if they build off of it,meaning reel off about 3 more W’s,and the stars will be aligned nicely for a trip to the frozen tundra.Question,do you guys think you’re watching Michael Irvin,but a tad faster version when the Dez man is catching the Romo ball?I know I do.       

  • Jason Neighbors

    Dez Bryant is going to be a Pro Bowl receiver. If Williams continues to play well, this offense will be hard to stop. The big question is- can they stop all the mistakes? The core players on offense and defense have been mistake-prone for years now, so it’s a very big IF. They can’t take the next step unitil they achieve that discipline.

  • Anonymous

    Correction Danny McCray got his first turnover, not not TD

  • Thanks, Anon. Just bad editing on my part.