For Dustin Vaughan, winning drive meant a lot

Dustin Vaughan got a full four quarters to state his case as the Cowboys' third quarterback. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dustin Vaughan wanted to stay in the moment after the Dallas Cowboys won their first preseason game since 2013 on Thursday. Thinking of the next 48 hours in which his football future could be decided could wait.

"Coach [Jason] Garrett told us to enjoy tonight, look in the mirror and say, ‘We did enough,'" Vaughan said in the middle of the locker room after the Cowboys' 21-14 win against the Houston Texans. "Hopefully that's reality."

The final cuts come Saturday and Vaughan admitted it will be "nerve-wracking, just like for everybody."

A year ago the Cowboys kept Vaughan on the 53-man roster, carrying a third quarterback behind Tony Romo and Brandon Weeden because of the promise he showed last summer. This summer has not been as productive, but Vaughan had his best moment when the Cowboys needed him most.

His final numbers are average -– 11 of 20, 115 yards, no touchdowns and no sacks. But on the Cowboys' game-winning drive that was set up by a long Lucky Whitehead punt return, Vaughan was able to hit A.J. Jenkins for 7 yards on a third-and-3. Two plays later he led Clyde Gates into a 15-yard pickup to the Houston 5.

Ben Malena scored on the next play to give the Cowboys the lead.

"I think that was really important for me to be able to go in there and lead the offense to a winning drive like that as far as confidence level," Vaughan said. "But also just this is what we came here to do, win the game. And we weren't going to leave this stadium without that happening. I like the way that the offense played together. So, yeah, overall a good performance."

The Cowboys planned to give Jameill Showers work in the second half but Vaughan played the entire game. It was his chance to state his case.

"I thought he handled himself well," Garrett said.

But was it well enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster for the second straight year?

"I think so, but there's a lot of guys in this room that think they have showed enough," Vaughan said. "Fact of the matter and the brutal reality of the NFL is it's out of our control now and so you hope you showed enough. And, yes, I think I did."