ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys were 98 yards away from suffering their biggest upset loss since 1995.
With 3:20 remaining, ESPN’s Football Power Index gave them just a 34% chance of winning, down from the 13% they had after. Dak PrescottThe second interception of the game gave the ball to the Texans at Dallas 4 with 5:37 left and Houston 23-20.
And yet, the Cowboys left AT&T Stadium on Sunday with a 27-23 win over the Texans.
On November 20, the Cowboys earned their biggest road win in franchise history, defeating the Minnesota Vikings 40-3. Last week, they scored a franchise-record 33 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Indianapolis Colts.
Facing Houston wasn’t supposed to be this hard.
“I think any time you can go through that and have a positive outcome, you’re better for it,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.
Prescott also thinks this victory, against the now 1-11-1 Texans, could end up being important.
“It will serve us more than I think the Minnesota game or even how we ended the last game at the end of the day because we are going to play tough games as we go,” he said. . “You gotta play games like [this], one-scored games here in the back-end against our division or whether it’s the playoffs. Just for us to have that trust and confidence in each other and to continue to bond, that’s something we’re going to need.”
Not that they want to be in a position to suffer such a defeat. In 1995, the Cowboys were 17.5-point favorites over 3-9 Washington and lost, but that team at least had Super Bowl pedigree. This Cowboys team was a 17-point favorite against the Texans, the NFL’s biggest gap this season, and nearly suffered a debilitating loss.
“We can sit here and talk about all the things that didn’t go well, and I understand,” coach Mike McCarthy said, referring to the two turnovers that led to Houston’s 14-point rush. the pass which did not record a sack for the first time this season, injuries and general malaise. “But at the end of the day, you have to – you have to – win the game in the fourth quarter, and we did that today.”
To pick up the win, Prescott (24 of 39, 284 yards, one touchdown) found a rhythm that eluded him for most of the game.
He completed his first six passes on the winning drive, and the only incompleteness was a drop per Michael Gallup in the end zone. He opened with a 21-yard completion for Dalton Schultz and hit the tight end twice more on the player. He ran twice for 12 yards.
On the 11th game of the drive, Ezekiel Elliott fought his way into the end zone for the go-ahead score with 41 seconds left.
Prescott said he told the offense they were going to win the game after his interception because he believed in the defense. By Marcus Lawrence fall Rex Burkhead for a 2-yard loss to the Dallas 1 and Neville Gallimore and Antoine Barr engulfed Jeff Driskel on fourth down after it looked like the quarterback deflected the wrong shot.
Then the offense took over.
“I told them, ‘One game at a time, increase the focus,’ and that’s something I always remind guys of,” Prescott said. “Just, ‘Hey, we’re going to win this game. Don’t blink,’ and none of these guys did. You could tell in their eyes they believed it.”
It was the Cowboys’ first 98-yard touchdown since Week 5 last season against the New York Giants.
Now 10-3, the Cowboys have won double-digit games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1995-96. They still have a chance to win the NFC East, although they are expected to beat the Philadelphia Eagles (11-1) on Christmas Eve and cause the Eagles to lose at least one more game.
Yet, as much as they enjoy the win, they know they can’t survive that way.
“I think everyone here would say that,” All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said. “But at the same time, I think these games are great learning experiences. When you have your back against the wall and you have to do a winning practice at the end of the game, that stuff pays off down the road. So definitely I don’t want to be in that situation again, but the fact that we were and that we did is important for our football team.”