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