Despite some ugly play early, unfortunately reminiscent of the first two weeks of the season, the Dallas Cowboys turned in an impressive effort in Houston Sunday for their first win of the young season, 27-13.
Dallas struggled once more with penalties in the early stages, committing three on the team’s opening drive. Neil Rackers gave the Texans an early 3-0 lead with a 24-yard field goal on the team’s first drive of the second half.
Starting at their own 20, the Cowboys’ subsequent drive started inauspiciously enough, when a block in the back penalty negated a long Felix Jones run. But Dallas got back on track, converting two third downs on their way to the Houston one. Marion Barber took it in for his first touchdown of the season. The drive spanned 13 plays and 80 yards, and gave Dallas a 7-3 lead.
The team had previously (and curiously) passed on a 47-yard field goal try on their first drive, opting instead to go for it. That didn’t work out, and it certainly seemed suggestive of a wavering confidence in the kicker. Buehler finally got a shot as time ran out, and came through with a 49-yard field goal, which extended the Dallas lead to 10-3 going into half. He would add a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter to go two-for-two on the day.
In the second half, the Dallas offense looked every bit like that vaunted unit we heard so much this offseason. Set up by a Mike Jenkins interception, Tony Romo orchestrated a beautiful seven-play, 90-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter, capped by a a 15-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams, to widen the gap to 17-3.
Romo would go 23 of 30 on the day for 284 yards and two touchdowns, both to Williams. Williams had a red letter day himself on Sunday, catching five passes for 117 yards and the two touches.
Houston was poised to answer in the fourth quarter, driving to the Dallas one-yard line. That however, after an impressive defensive stand by Dallas punctuated by a Keith Brooking sack for a loss of nine, was the closest they would get. After the sack, the team was obliged to settle for a 30-yard Rackers field goal.
Dallas answered with Romo’s and Williams’ second touchdown connection of the day, a 64-yard catch and run to bring it to 24-6. With Buehler’s second field goal of the day, Houston was almost dead, but not quite.
A touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Kevin Walter drew the lead to 27-13 and, after a successful onside kick attempt by the Texans, it looked as though the game might get interesting. Any such notions were quashed however as, three plays later, Danny McCray intercepted Schaub to end it.
The Dallas defense finished with three turnovers, four sacks--three by DeMarcus Ware--and a forced fumble. Which is to say, they were pretty good.
With the win, the team is 1-2 headed into the bye week.
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