Dallas knocked off Houston, 27-23, at AT&T Stadium to salvage embarrassment.
The Dallas Cowboys were 98 yards away from suffering their biggest upset loss since 1995.
Dak Prescott directed a 98-yard drive to Ezekiel Elliott’s short touchdown run with 41 seconds remaining, and yet somehow the Cowboys left AT&T Stadium on Sunday with a 27-23 win against the Houston Texans.
On Nov. 20, the Cowboys had their largest road win in franchise history, beating the Minnesota Vikings 40-3. Last week, they scored a franchise-record 33 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Indianapolis Colts.
“I think anytime you can live through that and have a positive result, you’re better for it,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.
The Cowboys’ victory pushed them to 10-3 on the season, still within distance of the first-place Eagles (12-1) in the NFC East. But the way the Cowboys’ played, you don’t have much hope this team can win the division.
It also marked the first time the Cowboys have posted consecutive double-digit wins in a season since the 1995-95 seasons. What happened then? Well, the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX and then lost in the divisional playoffs.
Here are 5 takeaways from Cowboys-Texans
The last ride was beautiful
When Dallas Houston quarterback Jeff Driskel stopped on a fourth and goal play, the Cowboys got the ball at their 2-yard line. No problem. Quarterback Dak Prescott led an 11-play drive for 98 yards in two minutes and 39 seconds that ended when Ezekiel Elliott sneaked in from the 2-yard line to give the Cowboys the lead. In the end, it was game-winning, and it was part of a masterclass by Prescott and co. to finally seal the win. Dalton Schultz caught three passes for 52 yards on the drive and Prescott climbed the field in several key games. There was a drop from Michael Gallup in the end zone after suffering a hard punch that wiped out a possible touchdown, but when it came down to it, the Cowboys got the job done.
Sales hurt the home team
When you make three turnovers, it’s hard to win football games. Dak Prescott threw two interceptions and KaVontae Turpin muffed a punt. It resulted in 14 points given away by the Cowboys in a game that was tight from the start. The most recent turnover, an interception by Prescott on a pass destined for Dalton Schultz, did not result in a result as the Cowboys fended off the Texans with a fourth and a goal when quarterback Jeff Driskel was dropped to a broken game loss.
Defense plays when it matters
Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch had 14 tackles; defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence made two key stops in the fourth quarter; and linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore tackled Texas quarterback Jeff Driskel with a fourth and a goal to give the offense a chance. Let’s not forget that cornerback Kelvin Joseph, who was not in the starting XI, played well late in the fourth quarter from a third behind and broke a pass. The defense wasn’t the best for most of the day, but towards the end of the fourth quarter they made the moves needed to win.
Tony Pollard continues to rely on touchdowns
Tony Pollard scored touchdowns in rushing and receiving to bring his total this season to a career-high 12. Pollard’s season has been incredible and if he gets into free agency he should be making money. By the time the game was over, Pollard didn’t have big numbers, 10 rushing yards on 42 carries, but he continues to show his value to the Cowboys. It was odd to see Pollard fail to score significant snaps on the game’s final drive when Ezekiel Elliott became the lead.
Injuries are piling up
The injury list began before the game when safety Jayron Kearse injured his knee while warming up. Kearse needed help to get to the dressing room but was able to start with no problems. However, Terence Steele, who started with the right tackle, suffered what appeared to be a serious left knee injury in the first half and was replaced by Josh Ball. Cornerback Trevon Diggs also injured his thumb before the end of the first half but was able to return. Tight end Jake Ferguson left the game with a concussion and didn’t return. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins left the game with a shoulder injury and defensive end Dorance Armstrong left the stadium with his right foot in a protective boot after spraining his ankle intercepting Hail Mary, which ended the game. The biggest injury concerns Steele, who has played well this season. But with Tyron Smith (hamstring) close to returning it could negate the impact of the injury as the Cowboys could start Smith with left tackle and of course they have Jason Peters who can play right tackle.
Texans: CB Steven Nelson injured an ankle in the first half and didn’t return. WR Jalen Camp had an oblique injury.
Cowboys: RT Terence Steele (left knee), DT Johnathan Hankins (right shoulder) and rookie TE Jake Ferguson (neck) each left the game and didn’t return. S Jayron Kearse played despite having to go to the locker room to treat a knee injury from pregame warmups.
Texans: Patrick Mahomes is set to play in his home state when Kansas City visits Houston next Sunday.
Cowboys: Three of the final four regular-season games are on the road, starting next Sunday at Jacksonville, the only of the remaining opponents currently without a winning record.
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