Sunday Night wrap-up: Deshaun Watson survives to beat Cowboys

AP

Sunday night, it was on the quarterbacks to take care of things, in the absence of much help.

Or, at the very least, survive.

For the Texans, it was a good thing Deshaun Watson has shown himself to be tough, as he took a beating but lead them to a 19-16 overtime win over the Cowboys.

Watson was hit repeatedly, and was checked in the sideline tent for rib injuries. But he hit DeAndre Hopkins for a 49-yard gain in OT, which was the equivalent of two heavyweight boxers leaning on each other, and one uncorking a knockout punch.

Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn hit the 36-yard field goal to win it, and bring an end to the carnage.

Watson finished 33-of-44 for 375 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, and 40 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 209 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. He didn’t have much help, as Ezekiel Elliott was limited to 54 yards on 20 carries. His lack of targets is well-documented and was evident, but he also threw some questionable passes, with at least one dropped pick-six by the opponents.

Still, he gave himself and his team a chance. He just couldn’t outlast Watson.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. There’s not much the Texans can do about it now, but the state of their offensive line is bordering on ridiculous.

They put Julie'n Davenport back at left tackle, after he started the opener there. They had initially shifted Davenport to right tackle when Seantrel Henderson broke his ankle, letting rookie Mathias Rankin in at left tackle. But Sunday, Kendall Lamm was in the starting lineup at right tackle.

They’ve used five different combinations of offensive linemen in five games, and that’s no way to protect an investment like Watson, particularly one coming off a torn ACL.

They used to have a good left tackle in Duane Brown, but didn’t want to pay him and shipped him off the Seattle. The 2019 second-round pick that’s coming back was the centerpiece of the deal, and they could always use it to find protection.

If it’s not too late.

2. The Texans’ struggles in the red zone are inexplicable.

But in the attempt to explic them (shut up, it’s as much of a word as their work there is a game plan), it’s clear the Texans don’t trust that line.

They were 1-of-6 in the red zone, but it’s actually worse than it sounds. They had five possessions inside the Cowboys 3-yard line, and only one of them ending in a touchdown. Four of the others were field goals, and they turned it over on downs the other time.

Everything seems designed to put Watson in space and let him create, but that also tends to put him in harm’s way. There might be short-term benefits, but the Texans don’t appear to be a contender now, and more care with Watson’s future is probably in order.

They have a reasonable array of targets, so the focus will remain on the play-calling until it’s fixed.

3. Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is having an amazing season, but never seems to get the credit he probably deserves.

Part of that has to do with playing in the shadow of J.J. Watt, but he’s also the victim of his own talent.

Though he’s battled injuries, he’s still such a unique athlete that it looks easy for him to do what others cannot. Then he gets criticized for not making otherworldly plays more often. Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers is similar, in that he was ripped for “taking plays off” early in his career. Somehow, Peppers has 154.5 sacks despite such an egregious lack of effort.

Clowney will likely never reach that level, through factors outside of his control, but he’s the impact player in the Texans’ front, capable of rushing with power and speed, and getting the best of a player such as Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith.

4. The Cowboys won’t be able to replace Jason Witten on the field, after they were caught off guard by their star tight end retiring to get into broadcasting.

Geoff Swaim is beginning to look like a viable target, though.

Swaim had a 43-yard ramble on a screen in the first half, and finished with three catches for 55 yards, albeit all in the first half. He caught three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown last week.

Again, he’s not going to replace Witten’s production, but he’s growing into someone they can use offensively, and in the everything-is-relative state of their offense, that’s worth something.

5. The Texans had to shuffle their secondary because of injuries, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting them as much as the offensive line.

With Aaron Colvin on IR and Kayvon Webster leaving the game with a quad injury, the Texans had to slide cornerback Kareem Jackson back to corner, and replace him at safety with rookie Justin Reid.

Jackson and Reid each had interceptions, on passes which were touched at some point by Cowboys targets. That doesn’t mean they weren’t Prescott’s fault, but it does speak to some degree of good fortune.

45 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: Deshaun Watson survives to beat Cowboys

  1. calizcowboyz says:

    October 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm
    Packers SUCK! P E R I O D ! Falcons Packers Eagles Vikings WHERE SUPPOSE to be the ELITE to battle for the NFC LMAO!!!!
    Giants just C H O K E D again.
    _________________

    You were saying……..

  2. Damned gutless Cowboys coaching. Utterly disgusting. Too scared to try to get ONE YARD at the Texans’ 40, with a chance to win the game in their hands. And then playing those ridiculous soft zones on defense. Couldn’t pick a better script to hand the game away.

    Every Dallas coach should be fired. This has gotten ridiculous. No guts, no creativity, no drive to win. Just timid attempts at trying to not lose.

    Lots of effort and progress being made by the players. The defense played strong, good offensive playmakers starting to emerge. But the play-calling is just awful.

    Full coaching transplant. This team needs strong coaching leadership, not this vanilla garbage.

  3. Out couched liked always. Calling for s slow action play knowing your QB can’t make quick reads while you’re in excellent field goal position to possibly win the game….and then your QB gets sacked. Pathetic.

  4. Texans won despite O’Brien’s ridiculous play calling on the goal line. Shotgun with only inches to score on every play is absurd. He’s killing Watson. Fortunately the Texans won.

  5. All of those injuries the Texans have, and still won. But the game never showed my favorite part of A Cowboys loss… The look on Jerry Jones’ face. So funny.

  6. 4th and 1 in their territory in overtime. You have Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Ezekiel Elliot. And you punt? Awful, awful coaching.

  7. Watson you are a gutsy player. But please don’t do stuff that may hurt your career down the line. Take it one step at a time. Great QB and a classier young man you are kid!

  8. There is zero urgency in Jason Garret’s coaching. One would think he’s a brand new coach taking over a rebuilding team. How much longer does he get at this point? Also, how much longer does Dak get before the Cowboys seriously evaluate the position? They aren’t the most talented team at WR, sure. But Dak… I just don’t think Dak’s it. But then I remember that Jerry runs the show. Good luck to you, Cowboys fans. Good luck.

  9. I love J. Jones and his red headed step child trying to be a coach. As long as he and his dumb son plays GM and VP the rest of the league won’t ever have to worry about them being in a SB!!!!!!BBBBBBrrrrraaaaahhhhhh.

  10. Football is becoming a sport designed by lawyers, managed by marketing executives, and played by people who hate the country where it’s played. So exciting.

  11. And then playing those ridiculous soft zones on defense.
    ____________________
    The the only thing the prevent defense does is prevent you from winning. Seems like Jason Garrett is playing prevent defense with his job too.

  12. Cowboys fan here. Nobody is talking about this but, they got rid of Dan Bailey for Maher’s leg! He made this kick +1 yard in the preseason against Houston to WIN THE JOB. He literally made the team for this exact reason and then we punt.

  13. If the Cowboys can’t beat the Texans, how in the world are they going to cope with games against good teams…

    They would be better off tanking that trying to win six or seven games!

  14. ^^ Agreed completely with what kevpft said about the Cowboys. I never regarded Jason Garrett as an analytical kind of guy or playcalling mastermind. I always seemed more from the Pete Carroll and Mike Tomlin school of being the head motivator and overseer for the operation rather than the Andy Reid style playcaller and schemer that directs the Xs and Os, but to be successful doing that you have to be able to replace or take over for your coordinators or other coaches when things go wrong. His inability or unwillingness to do something to make up for Scott Linehan is pretty damning and now he deserves the blame. As head coach, he is responsible for the team’s success-and by betting on Dak and Zeke to carry the offense, he also bet on himself and the coaches to make up for the shortcoming of the recieving corps. We know that losing Travis Frederick is disastrous, but if you’re relying on the offensive line to be the rock of your team while you look for the receivers (TEs included) you need, then you need to plan for someone getting hurt too. They did not.

    As far as Florio’s write-up goes, I agree with everything said, with the exception of the bit about Duane Brown. Brown, good or not, had already become disillusioned with the team. At this point last year he was not showing up to team activities or practice, let alone the games. He also is nearing the end of his career and was publically badmouthing the owner. There’s no way a contract was getting done, and the Texans had no choice but to get rid of him. They got good compensation from Seattle. Plus, even if Brown had “behaved” according to the owner’s standards (whether we consider that fair or not) and also was willing to sign a new deal, there’s no guarantee Houston’s O-line would have been good. Brown is in Seattle right now and their offensive line is still terrible, and this is only his second season (not even a full second season as he was procured midway through the last season) with the Seahawks, so we don’t even know if he will end up being any good next year or the year beyond. He’s a short term solution at this point, and to the Texans’ credit, they did try to draft a handful of guys that did not work out for them. The overall point is correct, however-Houston needs help there. Unlike Wilson (who is a great QB but has a tendency to hold the ball a bit too long at times), Watson gets rid of the ball fairly quickly most of the time, and he is still under siege nearly every play.

  15. Can we all just agree that the NFL needs to stop scheduling Dallas for all these primetime games starting next year? The whole excitement around 4 o clock games (at least where I live) and SNF/MNF is gone, and people wonder why ratings are down sometimes. No offense but the majority of people outside of Dallas don’t want to see Dak and the highly overrated Zeke anymore when we have the Rams, Chiefs, Packers, Patriots, Jaguars, and even some of the up and coming teams like the Browns and Jets.

  16. Dallas Cowboys. Americas Team. Get real. What are they 500 over the last 20 years? Little minds with big egos. Sorry Gerry , money does not equal wins or class.

  17. The Truth says:
    October 8, 2018 at 5:52 am
    Dak Prescott ……………….stinks

    ——————————————–
    I’m not sure I would go that far, but I do find it funny how fans and media crown these guys as the next Goat after a couple games to maybe even a year of success. Dak has potential but my guess is he is somewhere between the Goat we heard about two years ago and “stinks”.

    Watson also has skills, but my advice stop taking on LB’s headfirst at the goaline, otherwise we will never see if you have a chance to be a good QB.

  18. A QB that runs at the first sign of pressure is not tough. He looked “turrible”. You go to your playmakers in the red zone, not the backup rb and four tight ends.

  19. What a wasted effort by the defense, who turned in one of their best performances of the year. Despite the outcome of the game I give them a lot of credit. Garrett, Linehan, the WRs and rest of the offense, however, simply got outplayed aND beat down in the most critical moments of the game.

  20. “They used to have a good left tackle in Duane Brown, but didn’t want to pay him and shipped him off the Seattle.”

    I think you meant to say Duane Brown refused to report due to hurt feelings over a contract policy he already knew existed. Oh, his wife moved back to the West Coast just prior. Such a coincidence! 😉

    Good thing he got his contract extended in Seattle…at the same time it would’ve been extended in Houston.

  21. baldbuc says:
    October 7, 2018 at 11:56 pm
    Texans won despite O’Brien’s ridiculous play calling on the goal line. Shotgun with only inches to score on every play is absurd. He’s killing Watson. Fortunately the Texans won.
    ———————
    Agree!! O’Brien needs an OC to call plays. He just doesn’t have the feel of an NFL game or his team.

  22. Jerry coax Romo out of that booth before we real cowboy fans have to pack it in before turkey day. What a fraud Garrett and Prescott perpetrated on this fan base

  23. Garrett HAS TO GO! Even Jerry questioning that call to punt. Garrett is losing his team and he has had his time to win here. This team plays with no urgency at all, they play timid, they play not to lose instead of playing with a killer instinct to win, their position coaches at qb and oc SUCK they just have no direction at all. When Dak had Romo on the sideline he shined and gained experience, that pro bowl coaching leadership is missed there. We need to go after Harbaugh get him back to the NFL. I want that proven pedigree here.

  24. But but but…..there’s no tackling in football anymore! The QB’s are all wearing red shirts and can only be two hand touched! The NFL has gone soft and there’s no hitting anymore! It’s a fading sport and nobody is watching anymore!

    Oh, wait……

  25. The Truth says:
    October 8, 2018 at 9:34 am
    Jerry coax Romo out of that booth before we real cowboy fans have to pack it in…..
    //////////////
    You must really be missing that 1 playoff victory in a career thing that Romo brought you.

  26. Swain was mentioned in this article and he started off great…then Dak never looks his way again. The tight end in this offense is invisible. That’s on Dak or the coaches or both but maybe I see why Whitten retired.

  27. baldbuc says:
    October 7, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    Texans won despite O’Brien’s ridiculous play calling on the goal line. Shotgun with only inches to score on every play is absurd.
    ———–
    that call made me crazy, if you choose to kick a field goal, fine. Run the ball, otherwise at least line up under center. On Thursday I watched a 41 year old QB score on 3rd and goal from inches away.

  28. eaglesfan036 says:

    October 7, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    No mention of Jason Garret punting on 4th and 1 from the 45 yard line in OT? That was such a loser call

    Y’all must not have seen the Texans Colts game last week…almost identical situation…colts went for it… didn’t get the 1st down and we kicked game winning fg 10 seconds later. Pick your poison.

  29. The cowboys only offense is kicking field goals. And when they needed another one, they punt! Stupid!

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