By Terrance Turner
Aug. 21, 2021
A stout Texans defense and superior special teams helped push the Houston Texans to a win in their second preseason game. At AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the Texans shut down the Cowboys offense with strong tackling and disrupted passes. Four takeaways helped seal their victory tonight.
The Cowboys opened the game with quarterback Garrett Gilbert. On 2nd down, Gilbert fell backward but still managed to get the ball out in time. On 3rd down, though, he suffered a strip-sack by Texans defensive end Jacob Martin. Defensive end Charles Omenihu fell on the ball. The Texans took over and would quickly advance to the red zone. Texans running back Mark Ingram rushed into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.
With the Texans ahead 7-0, the Cowboys began their drive. Their rushing offense was stifled by the Texans defense. (Gilbert’s night would end after just two series, with him completing only 3-of-5 passes for 30 yards and a fumble.) Houston’s defense forced a three-and-out; Dallas had to punt. But the Texans would also punt after a fruitless drive.
Dallas took over, and an incomplete catch to Amari Rodgers drew a huge pass interference penalty on the Texans defense. That took the Cowboys to the 34-yard line, and a big catch by tight end Blake Jarwin brought them even closer. Then Dallas running back Tony Pollard rushed in for the TD.
The Texans got the ball back. Cornerback Desmond King tripped and fell, landing on all fours, but steadied himself and dashed past defenders. The result was a 24-yard run, just before the end of the third quarter.
In the second quarter, the Texans drive stalled on 4th and 1. The Cowboys regained possession. Texans defensive end Charles Omenihu sacked Cowboys QB Cooper Rush to make it 3rd and 19. Then offensive pass interference on 4th down took the Cowboys even further back. Then they got flagged again, this time for ineligible man downfield. After yet another penalty (false start), Dallas punted again. So did the Texans, after their drive went nowhere.
Minutes later, Dallas’ offense caught fire after running back Rico Dowdle got 10 yards on one play and then 25 on another. He took the team to 1st and goal. Cowboys were at the nine-yard line at the two-minute warning. They scored shortly after, when wide receiver Cedric Wilson caught a touchdown. That made it 14-7 with 1:48 left in the first half. The Cowboys led 14-7 at halftime.
The Cowboys brought out backup QB Ben DiNucci with 12:35 left in the third quarter. It took all of six minutes for things to unravel. DiNucci was intercepted — for a touchdown — by safety Lonnie Johnson. DiNucci’s pass, intended for Reggie Davis, was tipped by Tremon Smith. The deflected ball landed into the hands of Johnson, who went 53 yards. His pick-six tied the game at 14-14 with 6:52 left in the third.
Early in the fourth quarter, kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked a 38-yard field goal to give the Texans a 17-14 lead. Later, when DiNucci was picked off again by Shaheed Carter, the Texans took over with a new QB: Jeff Driskel. For the second straight week, Driskel displayed high mobility, taking off for 12 yards on one play. He then threw for 14 to Ericson. When the Texans hit the red zone, it was Fairbairn’s 24-yard field goal that put points on the board.
It was Texans cornerback Terrance Moore who sealed the game, intercepting Dallas QB
Despite an offense that struggled mightily — going 0-for-10 on all 3rd-down conversion attempts — the Texans held on to win. Houston’s tough, scrappy defense wound up with five sacks for the night, and stellar special teams helped the Texans beat the Cowboys, 20-14.