Sometimes after a loss, a look at the stats can bring up some bright spots, things to build on going forward. But if you are looking for those about the Dallas Cowboys in their overtime loss to the Houston Texans, well, too bad. The score says it was close. The numbers say that Dallas was roundly and soundly beaten.
Here’s a dig into the stats to show you what I mean.
170 total yards differential
That’s how much the Texans out-gained the Cowboys by, 462 to 292. To put it in a little more perspective, Houston gained 158% of the yards Dallas did. And it was almost all in the passing game. Dak Prescott put up another clunker, only throwing for a net of 194, while Deshaun Watson was putting up 374. In terms of yards gained per offensive snap, the edge went to the Texans 6.1 to 4.9. Their offensive domination is starkly clear.
Had it not been for Bill O’Brien making a couple of decisions that rivaled Jason Garrett’s failure to go for it in overtime, plus some clutch defensive plays at crucial moments, this could easily have been a two score defeat or worse for the Cowboys.
25 to 14
This is the first downs, which is right in line with the total yards. Breaking those down, while Dallas had six rushing and eight passing, Houston was predominately doing things the way most NFL teams do it in the 21st century, gaining 18 first downs through the air. Oh, and just to help them along, Dallas gifted them three first downs through penalties.
20 for 54
As in carries and yards gained for Ezekiel Elliott, for a paltry 2.7 yards per carry. The Texans came in with a plan to take the ground game away and then attack Prescott when he dropped back to pass, and it worked almost perfectly.
Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan still believe that they can succeed with a run-oriented attack. That is partly driven by the limitations that the passing game has. But if an opponent can slow Elliott down the way Houston did, then this is the kind of game you can expect. Making things worse, there may not be a way to fix this before the season is over. They have to roll with Prescott, and there isn’t any help at receiver coming, either.
Depressing, isn’t it?
10 quarterback hits
That’s a lot of blows to the passer. But it’s not how many time Prescott was knocked down. It is how many times Watson was, usually as he was completing another pass for a first down, or at least it seemed. The problem is that the Cowboys could not turn those into sacks (they were credited with one on the play where Jaylon Smith, one of the few standouts for the Cowboys, stopped Watson on fourth and goal). Watson didn’t have a lot of time back there and was under some pretty constant pressure himself. He was just able to overcome it to keep his team alive far more often. He had a 75% completion rate compared to Prescott’s 62%, The pressure got to Dak, but Deshaun largely shrugged it off.
One bit of praise for a member of the Cowboys here. DT Daniel Ross was credited with half the hits on Watson. He has been doing a great job, but the rushmen as a whole have to do much better. One of the great frustrations for us is how suspect offensive lines always seem to find a way to play like a bunch of Pro Bowlers when they line up against Dallas.
4 of 14 (29%)
Another bad third-down efficiency for Dallas, which continues the dismal trend that has plagued them all season. They did manage to score a touchdown on their two trips to the red zone, but the fact it was only two trips was the real problem.
6 for 16
Here are the completions and targets for all wide receivers. It is simply pitiful. The blame is on just about everyone, the quarterback who had too many off-target throws, the receivers who dropped too many chances when the ball did get to them, and Linehan, who didn’t have a way to get more out of his admittedly limited weapons. While we’re at it, let’s also dump a bit on the GM and the members of his staff who came up with this wide receiver by committee mess. The committee is obviously way too light on talent and ability.
As noted, there just isn’t much good for Dallas this game, but just to offer a faint ray of hope, that is the combined tackles by Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. With Sean Lee out, they have proven that they are more than able to step up and carry the load.
But the overall picture is grim. The combination of stats makes it clear that the final score of the game was deceptive. It wasn’t really that close. The Cowboys had no right to even get it to overtime. Unless they can come up with some answers fast, this season is going to go downhill in a hurry.