There were so many things to like about Saturday’s win against the Texans.
Take your pick between any of the three phases of the game. On its first possession of the night, the Dallas defense forced a takeaway when Taco Charlton sacked Deshaun Watson, stripped him and recovered the fumble. From there, it turned over to Dak Prescott, who escaped pressure from Whitney Mercilus and found Michael Gallup for a 12-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
Not to be forgotten, the Cowboys’ special teams even got in on the act when Joe Thomas broke around the left end to block a Houston punt and recover it in the end zone for a touchdown. It says plenty that after just eight minutes of game time, the Cowboys held a 14-0 lead and did not look back.
Preseason or not, the Cowboys defense was outstanding. Nick Eatman from the Mothership explains.
When you think about the objectives that every defensive coordinator has heading into a game, the Cowboys were able to achieve them all.
Keep the opponent from scoring? Check, the Cowboys producing their first home shutout in the preseason since 1977 – which happened to be a Super Bowl winning season.
Limit the yards allowed? Check, check as the Cowboys gave up just 135 yards, including 50 passing yards by the Texans.
Get off the field on third down? Super check – the Cowboys held Houston to just 1 of 14 on third-down conversions.
Create turnovers – check, as the Cowboys got the ball away four times, including two forced fumbles by Taco Charlton.
Get to the quarterback? How about eight checks, since the Cowboys sacked Houston eight times. Again, Charlton had two, as did Kerry Hyder.
As far as dress rehearsals go, Cowboys’ rout of Texans was about as good as it gets - David Moore, SportsDay
Saturday’s game has a little bit for everyone, but it was the defense that really shined.
The starting defense didn’t allow any points in the preseason and was dominant against the Texans.
Defensive end Taco Charlton came up with a strip sack of quarterback Deshaun Watson on Houston’s third play and recovered the fumble to hand Prescott and the offense the ball on the Texans’ 24-yard line. This came after defensive tackle Maliek Collins blasted Lamar Miller in the backfield for a 1-yard loss on a hit that forced the Texans running back to the locker room on a cart. Linebacker Joe Thomas blocked a punt on Houston’s next possession and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
The Cowboys defense took the field for one more possession in the first quarter and produced a three-and-out. The damage: Houston scraped together only 33 yards on 10 plays against the Cowboys’ starting defense.
It was a short night for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson as he only played one series, and was hit two times.
Taco Charlton had both the hits on Watson, causing and recovering a fumble on the sack that counted to set up Gallup’s touchdown. Charlton got a second sack against Joe Webb III and forced another fumble. Kerry Hyder also had two of the Cowboys’ eight sacks. Charlton, a 2017 first-round pick, went to training camp with his roster spot in jeopardy, but has been particularly strong in the past two preseason games.
“He’s just gotten better and better and better right before your eyes and my eyes as well,” owner Jerry Jones said. “He’s really getting rewarded and I’m proud of him because he’s had to really work to get to this point.”
Five observations from Cowboys’ shutout of Houston: Taco Charlton takes control on defense - Calvin Watkins, SportsDay
Calvin Watkins provides his observations from the Cowboys victory, including a much-needed big game from the team’s young edge rusher.
Taco Charlton takes over
Whatever type of talk defensive end Taco Charlton had with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, he needs to have it every week. Charlton had his best game of the preseason: Three tackles, two sacks, two quarterback hurries, one pass defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. It doesn’t matter if Robert Quinn remains on the roster after his two game suspension, Charlton has done enough to make this team. There were major questions about Charlton’s status when training camp started, but not anymore.
Taco’s big game was soured by injury as he left the game two separate times.
Charlton notched two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a pass deflection in tonight’s contest. The strip sack and recovery on Texans QB Deshaun Watson were a sight for sore eyes, however he had to leave the game due to injury not once, but twice.
Taco Charlton is sitting on the sidelines. He was limping a little, but no brace or ice pack— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 25, 2019
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller injured vs. Cowboys - Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
While it’s unclear the severity of Taco’s injury, things aren’t looking that good for Texan’s running back Lamar Miller.
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller left the field on a cart after an injury in his team’s first series Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Cowboys ‘defensive tackle Maliek Collins hit Miller on Houston’s second play from scrimmage. Miller’s left knee appeared to take the brunt of Collins’ hit. It was later reported the Texans fears Miller tore his ACL.
“I’m praying for that man, hope he makes a full recovery if [an ACL tear] is what it is,” Collins said. “I’m just praying he has a speedy recovery.”
Dallas Cowboys have shape of Super Bowl contender against Houston - Jonathan Hull, Wichita Falls Times
Who’s stock is rising after Saturday’s game?
DE Taco Charlton — There’s no doubt the Texans’ offensive line was dreadful Saturday (#PrayForDeshaun), but Charlton put on a pass-rushing clinic. He had two sacks and forced two fumbles. He took up permanent residence in the Houston backfield.
WR Devin Smith – For a third week, Smith increased his roster chances. The former second-round pick out of Ohio State should be a lock by now. He created an immense amount of separation from Texans’ DBs.
RB Jordan Chunn – Chunn, not Mike Weber or Darius Jackson, was the second Cowboys’ running back to touch the ball. He’s been a valuable special teams player and looked good catching the ball out of the backfield, scoring a TD.
Taco wasn’t the only defensive lineman who earned a game ball on Saturday.
Another player who dominated in the trenches for Dallas was Hyder. He lived in the Texans backfield, earning two sacks while being an all-around terror. Hyder was one of the teams more unheralded offseason pickups, but through three preseason games, he’s shown he can be a big-time contributor this season.
Houston's O-Line might be terrible, but Kerry Hyder has done this in every game of the preseason. This dude looks like an absolute find.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 25, 2019
Taco Charlton and Kerry Hyder helped build their case to make the roster, but they weren’t the only defenders who planted their flag in the dirt on Saturday.
Donovan Wilson – One more time, he probably was going to make it already. But after a beautiful interception and in a position to make another one that Goodwin picked off, it’s safe to say Wilson is making this team. Better yet, he might be on the active game day roster as well as the third safety. Now, that could be a battle with Darian Thompson, who is probably a more polished special teams player, Wilson has been a playmaker in both games and the scrimmage, and has athletic ability that few players have at this position. What that means for Kavon Frazier is unknown, but Wilson has all but locked up his spot.
What we learned as all four Cowboys QBs see playing time in preseason win vs. Houston - Calvin Watkins,SportsDay
There were a lot of good things on offense, but there was too much yellow laundry flying around courtesy of the offensive line. Here is a tally of the guilty culprits on Saturday.
Offensive line penalties:
Of the eight first half penalties by the Cowboys, five were from the offensive line. Connor Williams, Brandon Knight, Jake Campos and Cam Fleming were penalized for holding. Fleming was also flagged for a false start. Coming into the game, the Cowboys had been penalized 16 times for 147 yards.