The Cowboys should have never found themselves in overtime on Sunday, but at least they took care of business once they got there.
Dallas forced a punt after the Texans got the ball to start the extra session and they rode DeMarco Murray to a couple of first downs before they faced a third-and-eight at their own 32-yard line. They decided to put the chance to win in the hands of their best receiver.
Tony Romo threw it up and Dez Bryant brought it down over Jonathan Joseph for a 37-yard gain that helped make blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter a little more bearable. Bryant’s catch set the Cowboys up in Dan Bailey’s field goal range and they used a couple of runs to set the kicker up for the game-winning 49-yard kick.
The 20-17 win featured some ugly play by the Cowboys, including red zone turnovers for both DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo, but they are still 4-1 at the close of business. That’s good position to be in with games against the Seahawks and Giants coming up. An outing like Sunday’s probably won’t win either game, but the Cowboys can take solace in the fact that they found a way to win on a day when they didn’t play all that well.
That’s especially true of the defense, which redeemed itself after giving up those two late drives in the fourth quarter. The unit turned in another strong performance and didn’t let the three turnovers become the daggers that they have been so many times in the past for Dallas. They could be tighter against the run — Arian Foster had 157 yards and two scores — but they are far from the nightmare that was predicted heading into the season.
As for Houston, the defense couldn’t handle Murray (136 more yards for the NFL’s leading rusher) and the non-J.J. Watt part of the roster didn’t provide enough pressure on Romo. Watt wasn’t dominant, but had his moments. One came in the third quarter when he nearly sacked Romo, only to see Romo weave a little magic and whirl far enough away to deliver a long touchdown to Terrance Williams.
Offensively, Ryan Fitzpatrick rallied them in the final minutes but his inability to do anything for the first three-quarters is probably why the Texans left a winnable game on the table. The pieces are there with Foster, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, but Fitzpatrick isn’t the guy to make all the parts sing together. At 3-2, it may not be time to make a change in the starting lineup but a couple more losses like this would make it hard to stick with the veteran much longer.