It all came together for the Cowboys on Sunday. They ran the ball, they passed the ball, they created turnovers, they pressured the quarterback, and on and on it goes.
The big question now is: Have the Cowboys turned the corner? Or was their performance, as the title of this article suggests, an aberration?
Wade Phillips' team entered Reliant Stadium with their backs to the wall. They had started the season off 0-2, looked borderline anemic on offense, were failing to consistently pressure the quarterback, and mistakes and miscues were rife, whether it was missed field goals or missed assignments.
The Cowboys had dug themselves into a hole. A hole some experts and analysts believed was already too deep to climb out of.
Instead of panicking, however, the players and coaches, individually and collectively, took it upon themselves to make sure that there was no possible way they would leave Houston without a ‘W'.
Terence Newman headed a player's only meeting.
Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett made sure that mistakes were rectified as soon as they occurred in practice.
Mike Jenkins vowed that the intensity and focus of his team would be lifted.
And Andre Gurode and Joe DeCamillis gave motivational pre-game speeches.
End result: Cowboys win 27-13.
A victory for the Cowboys and dominant performance all round.
However, was it more the underwhelming performance of the Texans that made this win?
Prior to Sunday's game, Texans starting left tackle Duane Brown was suspended for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Enter Brown's replacement Rashad Butler, who in turn, assisted on some of DeMarcus Ware's three sacks of Matt Schaub.
Andre Johnson, arguably the best receiver in the league, was hindered for most, if not all, of the game by an ailing ankle injury. He still put up reasonable numbers - four receptions for 67-yards, but was obviously not the same player. This was highlighted in the third-quarter when Schaub tossed a bomb down the left sideline for Johnson, who was covered by Jenkins; Johnson stumbled on the route, allowing Jenkins to get in front of him and intercept the ball at the Dallas 10-yard line.
Tony Romo, who had found the end-zone only twice in the last two games, and struggled with his accuracy last week, threw two touchdowns to Roy Williams and zero interceptions. The Texans secondary is one of the worst in the league. They have allowed, on average, 368.7 passing yards a game, and have Alabama alumni and rookie Kareem Jackson starting at cornerback, who Romo victimized all game long, and was the player beat on Williams' 63-yard touchdown catch.
Perhaps the Cowboys are still a 'bad' team, a mistake-riddled unit that got off to an 0-2 start, that was suddenly made to seem better due to certain circumstances.
Do I believe that's true?
The Cowboys were assisted by the aforementioned. But that is not the only reason they won.
Firstly, they had to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. And they did that. Ware got his sacks, the secondary stopped the Texans passing game, and Romo shredded the secondary. The Cowboys had an opportunity last week against the Bears when they lost their left tackle in the early stages of the game. Unfortunately, the Cowboys defense seemed to get less pressure after that. Romo had a secondary beat last week, but he couldn't line-up the passes like he did this week. Every week, teams in the NFL will present you with opportunities, you just have to grab them.
Secondly, the Cowboys still committed an array of penalties and mistakes. However, in this particular game, they overcame them.
The Cowboys failed to convert a fourth-and-two in the first quarter. But instead of allowing the momentum to swing and the Texans to drive down the field and score, the defense held strong, forcing a punt after six plays.
In the second quarter, a 32-yard catch-and-run by Felix Jones was negated by an illegal block on Miles Austin. Instead of allowing the nullified play and first-and-20 deflate the offense; they drove 90-yards in 13-plays, punching it in from the one-yard line on a Marion Barber run.
Keith Brooking had a horrible pass interference penalty in the endzone. He then had a crucial third-down sack to hold the Texans to a FG. Mike Jenkins was penalized on a 2nd and 19 for the Texans, giving them a first down. He then proceeded to pick off Matt Schaub.
The Cowboys may not have turned the corner yet, but on Sunday - against the Texans - they looked like a team that is on its way. Everybody would like for them to cut down on the mistakes, but recent history has shown us this team will commit them; they haven't been among the league-leaders in penalties for nothing. The Cowboys are a bit of a 'wild bunch' in their play, but have the talent to overcome. The talent to overcome their own mistakes, and the talent to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the opposing team.
On Sunday, they did just that. Is it an aberration, or have the 2010 Cowboys turned the corner? We'll know a little more two weeks from now.