The Dallas Cowboys faced off against instate rivals the Houston Texans in what I lovingly like to call the “Roster Bubble Bowl” on Thursday night. The Texas clash for the Governor’s Cup at AT&T Stadium was the final opportunity for many players on both teams’ roster bubbles to prove themselves worthy of making their respective final 53-man rosters. In the end, it was the Texans who ran off with the victory, 24-6.
This being the final preseason game for both teams, neither sides’ main starters saw any playing time. But it doesn’t mean the game didn’t have meaning. For players like Dallas quarterback Alex Tanney, cornerback Micah Pellerin and wideout Anthony Armstrong this game means everything. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, their best player of the night was probably their starting punter, Chris Jones. He recorded eight punts on the night.
Although Dallas’ back-up quarterback, Kyle Orton, started the game, he only played the first series. Tanney was handed the reins soon after. But the undrafted player out of Monmouth failed to really impress in what was essentially his final audition. Tanney ended the night going 17 for 31 passes for 177 yards and one interception. But he seemed to have very little time to work with as the offensive line allowed a total of seven sacks on the night.
Dallas’ running game, which showed signs of life early on in the game, never really took off. Rookie running back Joseph Randle once again led the Cowboys in rushing with 47 yards on 10 attempts. Back Phillip Tanner contributed with 35 yards of his own in just six attempts.
Houston, on the other hand, had no problems running the ball. Texan back Cierre Woods ran around and through the Cowboys lackluster defense to the tune of 107 yards on 19 attempts. And the other Houston back, Dennis Johnson, added 79 yards rushing on 17 attempts and a score to that total.
The Cowboys defense looked in disarray. Not totally surprising considering who was playing, but Dallas’ defense has been stellar up until Thursday night. To see them get annihilated with every run was simply embarrassing. Despite the loss, there were some players who actually might have helped their status with the team.
Defensive end Jason Vega recorded four tackles and recovered a fumble. Wideout Tim Benford turned in another solid performance recording four receptions on six targets for 60 yards. And rookie tight end Gavin Escobar continues to improve as he finished the game with five catches for 29 yards. Escobar also had a near touchdown in the second quarter as well. But he was unable to get both feet down in the corner of the endzone.
The last time these two teams faced off was in Week Three of the 2010 season. Dallas defeated Houston at home in that game, 27-13. It was the Cowboys only win in the first nine weeks of that season. Current Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was the Cowboys head coach at the time. He was replaced later that same season by now Dallas head coach Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys are expected to trim their roster down from 75 to 53 players in the next two days. After a game like this, it should make those cuts a little easier to determine. The Cowboys next game will be their NFL regular season home-opener against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football, September 8th.