Cowboys Insider Jean-Jacques Taylor gives you his 10 thoughts on the Cowboys’ loss Sunday night against Houston that dropped the Cowboys to 2-3 and put their season at a crossroads:
• We’ll be debating and second-guessing all week long whether Jason Garrett should’ve gone for it on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 42 in overtime. The Cowboys were 1-for-3 on third-and-one situations in the game, but had made their only fourth-and-1 attempt. The bigger question is whether it’s up to Garrett to show confidence in his offense and go for it or whether they must earn his confidence with previous to go for it in that situation.
• DeAndre Hopkins showed why a No.1 receiver is not a luxury. He caught nine of 13 passes directed his way for 151 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown, but he had a 49-yard catch in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal, and he drew a 27-yard pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal. He also had another reception that gained 34 yards that set up a touchdown.
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• The Dallas pass rush generated just one sack in 44 pass attempts against a quarterback who had been sacked 17 times in the first four games. The Cowboys pressured DeShaun Watson quite a bit in the second half, but just couldn’t get him on the ground except once for one yard.
• Jaylon Smith turned in a performance that might just get him a spot in the Pro Bowl since it happened on Sunday Night Football and a national TV audience. He had 12 tackles, three for loss and a sack. He had two other quarterback hits, one that forced an interception, and made two dazzling plays to stop Watson at the goal line. He was spectacular and national TV audience saw it.
• The Cowboys played without Sean Lee and gave up 16 points and forced two turnovers. They also played stellar red zone defense. Give some of the credit to first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who had 13 tackles, including 11 solo stops.
• The Cowboys continue to get virtually nothing from their receivers. They combined to catch six of 16 targets for 72 yards and a touchdown. They also had at least four drops. Just so you know that was fewer catches and less than half as many yards as Hopkins put up.
• Ezekiel Elliott’s 20-carry, 54-yard performance was the third worst of his career as was his 2.7 per carry. Houston never let him get untracked.
• Geoff Swaim has had receptions of 20, 31 an 43 yards the last three games. He was the Cowboys’ leading receiver with three catches for 55 yards. He’s making plays in the passing game, but he’s supposed to be a complimentary player. He’s a star in this offense.
• Play-caller Scott Linehan tired several new wrinkles in the offense. As you would expect, some worked and others didn’t, but he tried to put the players in position to make plays. More than once he lined up Cole Beasley or Tavon Austin in the backfield to either use them as primary receivers or decoys and he tried some misdirection plays. The effort was good, but the execution was overall spotty.
• The Cowboys amassed just 292 yards of total offense, the third time in five games they had less than 300 yards, and converted just four-of-14 third downs (29 percent). The Cowboys rank 28th in the NFL in total offense (307.8), 30th in points scored (16.6) and third-down conversions (28.3 percent) and 29th in time of possession (28:27).