After three weeks, the Cowboys have proved they can play a little football when inspired.
We look at some keys to the Cowboys 27-13 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon in our weekly Beat Writers Recap.
*One of the best drives of the season displayed all the talents of the Cowboys in the third quarter. On a seven play 90-yard drive lasting 4:02, things started with running back Felix Jones gaining a combined 19 yards on two delays. The Cowboys offensive line provided Jones with the room necessary to get the yards. Dez Bryant and Sam Hurd are two of the fastest receivers on the team and they showed why on consecutive plays. Bryant gained five yards on a quick slant and Hurd picked up a first down on another one. On the pass to Hurd, Marion Barber did a good job on the blitz pickup. Barber doesn't get enough credit for his blocking skills. Tony Romo raves about Bryant's ability to catch the ball in almost any situation and on a 30-yard pass, Bryant beat his defender to the ball and gave himself a little room with a pushoff. He was rewarded with a strong throw by his quarterback. Then, Martellus Bennett got into the act on a rollout by catching an 11-yard pass for another first down. The drive ended when Roy E. Williams beat his man on an inside release to catch a 15-yard touchdown to put Dallas ahead, 17-3. This was such a balanced drive where offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was able to use the speed in the run and pass games.
*You want to know why Bradie James and Keith Brooking are on the field so much, the backups don't make plays. The longest run of the day for the Texans, 26-yards, came with Leon Williams and Jason Williams on the field at inside linebacker Arian Foster rushed for 26-yards, cutting back across the grain as Williams and Williams bit on the movement to one side. The Texans are a team that likes to cutback in the run game and Williams and Williams were caught too far in one direction to do anything to stop Foster.
*On the fourth quarter goal line stand, everyone talks about what a nice job Barry Church, Keith Brooking and Anthony Spencer did to force a field goal. But safety Gerald Sensabaugh stopped a potential touchdown that might have turned the momentum of the game around. Owen Daniels caught an 11-yard pass moving the Texans from the Cowboys 12 to the 1. On the play, the Texans loaded to the left side and Daniels snuck underneath crossing to the middle of the field. Sensabaugh read the play well and didn't get crossed up with Brooking who was in front of him. Sensabaugh stayed with Daniels and tackled him short of the goal line. Neil Rackers field goal cut the deficit to 17-6.
*Mario Williams is considered one of the top pass rushers in the game and Doug Free handled him pretty well. Free did have some help. Bennett took Williams on in several one-on-one situations. In the fourth quarter on Romo's 63-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams, Bennett held Williams from getting close to the quarterback. When Romo completed a 14-yard pass to Jason Witten to setup a last second field goal try at the half, Kyle Kosier knocked Williams to the ground with a hard block to help Free.
*Three weeks into the season and Alex Barron still leads the team in penalties with three, but Witten was called for two, a false start and a pass interference, on Sunday. Other players who have multiple penalties include Spencer, two offsides calls, each were declined, Brooking, two pass interference calls and Miles Austin who has a false start and an illegal block.
*The most the Cowboys blitzed on Sunday was six in the first half. After that they stuck with either a four or five man attack. One rush had defensive end Marcus Spears drop back into coverage where he made the tackle.
*Notes: Jay Ratliff and Kosier were the only Cowboys to leave the game with an injury. Ratliff was smiling as he was helped off the field, he returned after getting shaken up. Kosier didn't return, he tweaked his right MCL in the fourth quarter and was on the bench getting ice. ... Sean Lee and Mike Hamlin were inactive for the game. The Cowboys believe in Lee, mainly because he was a second-round pick this year. He might not be inactive for the Titans game in Week 5. Barry Church and Danny McCray are better special team players than Hamlin and that could mean another DNP for him. Church had a key tackle on the goal line stand in the fourth quarter and McCray had a interception. ... The last three possessions for the Texans ended with a fumble, touchdown and interception. Last three possessions for the Cowboys ended in touchdown, field goal end of game. ... Cowboys finished with a season-high eight tackles for loss. DeMarcus Ware led the way with five.