Cowboys' offensive woes exposed in 19-16 loss to Texans

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Heading into Sunday night, the vaunted Houston Texans defense had not lived up to its preseason billing.

It looked like the real deal against the Dallas Cowboys in a 19-16 overtime win over its Texas rivals.

Under pressure from Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt, Dak Prescott and Co. had trouble moving the ball most of the night.

Surging Cowboys defense can’t overcome woes on offense

Cowboys defenders did their job with several goal-line stands to stifle Deshaun Watson and the Texans in scoring territory. Houston had first-and-goal three times from the end of the second quarter that resulted in six points.

Dallas stood up a fourth-and-goal attempt by Houston to end the first half. A 67-yard drive came up empty when Watson lined up in shotgun and got stopped short of the end zone from inside the 1-yard line.

A pair of ensuing Houston scoring opportunities from first-and-goal ended with field goals in the second half.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys couldn’t move the ball against a stifling Texans defense. (Getty)
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys couldn’t move the ball against a stifling Texans defense. (Getty)

Prescott, Elliott struggle vs. Texans

But the defensive effort wasn’t enough, as the Cowboys couldn’t capitalize on offense. Prescott threw a pair of interceptions and a touchdown while tallying 208 yards in the air. Ezekiel Elliott was held to 54 yards on 20 carries.

And Houston got enough out of its offense to pull off the win at home, highlighted by a huge overtime pass from Watson to Deandre Hopkins to set up the game-winning field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn. Watson shed several tackles on the catch-and-run that went for 49 yards and put the Texans at the Cowboys 24-yard-line.

Texans show signs of life outside red zone

While they struggled in the red zone, the Texans were otherwise productive on offense. Watson finished with 375 yards in the air with a touchdown and an interception while tallying 40 yards on the ground 10 carries.

He showed flashes of the player who was a rookie sensation, including buying time through misdirection on the overtime pass to Hopkins.

He also took a constant beating from the Cowboys when he carried the ball. Several of those red zone stops ended with Watson on the receiving end of crushing blows from Cowboys linebackers Jaylon Smith and breakout rookie Leighton Vander Esch, who led Dallas with 14 tackles.

Hopkins finished with 151 yards on nine catches, including the game-breaking play in overtime.

Dallas offense needs answers, fast

In the end, the Texans outgained the Cowboys on offense, 462 yards to 292 yards. Houston improves to 2-3 while Dallas falls to 2-3, sitting behind the 3-1 Washington Redskins who play the New Orleans Saints on Monday.

The game was a further indictment of a Cowboys offense that has struggled this season behind Prescott. The Texans entered the game ranked 20th in total defense and 28th in passing defense.

If the Cowboys can’t figure out how to move the ball, it won’t matter much how well their emerging defense plays.

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