By Zach Walker
Dallas Cowboys vs Houston Texans
Sunday – October 7 – 7:20 p.m.
NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
Records Before Game
Dallas Cowboys (2-2, 0-2 Away)
Houston Texans (1-3, 0-1 Home)
With a tick over two minutes to go in the game, with the ball under the possession of the Cowboys’ offense, from my position in the press box, I panned across the stadium-scape to take a general temperature of the crowd. There weren’t Dallas jersey-clad fans standing hands on knees in the stairs, with the faith in their head that two minutes was MORE than enough time to make a drive and win the game. No, what I saw was the current state of the Cowboys. Cross-armed fans with their backs firmly planted in their seats. Dak had two very good plays on the final drive. His reaction to Joe Looney allowing the rush straight after Dak, forcing a fumble, Dak recovering the ball and throwing it away. Then the dime in the bucket to Zeke Elliott. I tweeted at the beginning of the game that Zeke’s pregame was getting the whole building fired up, and he was primed for a big game. The two main points of skepticism from the Cowboys were on full display in the game, the coach and quarterback, and they both reached full bottom of the barrel in the game. But, the win masks the stench of most mistakes.
The Cowboys had their cart-ox on absolute display against the Lions, with Ezekiel Elliott at maximum destructive power against a team that he should have done exactly what he did, run through them like tissue. That’s not the expectation against a different front in the Houston Texans. Even though his knee is held together with deck screws, JJ Watt is still a presence to be accounted for. He’s far from the lone worry along the defense. Jadeveon Clowney picked up the pass rushing mantle left vacant by the oft-injured Watt, and Whitney Mercilus brings the heat from the opposite side. Christian Covington is a PLUG. The linebacker duo of Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham will be on Zeke on every play. The secondary is experienced and aren’t likely to be impressed by the troop of pass receivers that will line up across from them. Tyrann Mathieu, Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, and Justin Reid. There isn’t a seam for the Cowboys to attack, so rather than going around the sides, they’ll just have to go straight through the Texans.
The Cowboys must re-establish what made this combo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott successful from the jump, the play-action pass. That misdirection, combined with the likelihood of their being an actual rushing attempt is what got Dak the success, and for this game to return to North Texas with a win, the Cowboys MUST get the play-action firing up and going, or this game could get ugly.
Dallas – 27
Houston – 24