8:20 p.m. ET
Key Decision #1: (HOU ball, leading 10-6 / fourth-and-goal DAL 1 / 0:10 Q2)
• DAL had been stout in the red zone all game, but HOU head coach Bill O’Brien decides to pass up the easy FG at the end of the first half. Instead of going into halftime with a 13-6 lead, he tries for a TD.
• From the 1, his offense is lined up in the gun, and QB Deshaun Watson tries to run it and is stuffed. Big momentum swing for DAL. In a close game like this, points are at a premium. Plus, HOU is gimpy on offense, with starting RB Lamar Miller sitting this game out. Finally, HOU’s offensive line has been suspect all season. We did not like this decision, particularly since DAL had jumped out to a 6-0 lead and HOU did a good job of coming back.
Key Decision #2: (DAL ball, tied 16-16 / fourth-and-1 HOU 42 / 5:40 OT)
• On their first possession of overtime, DAL punts on fourth-and-2. The decision there is a close one: If they don’t get the first down, Houston obviously has very good field position and only needs a field goal to win. The Cowboys defense had been playing very well all night. So for that reason, the punt was somewhat defensible. However, given that the Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott and a mobile quarterback, perhaps going for it and trying to get two yards also is not out of the question. This was a tough decision for Jason Garrett.
• The punt pinned HOU back on their own 10-yard line, but the Texans went on an 8-play, 72-yard drive that resulted in the game-winning FG.
• This was a very hard-fought game; both teams played with great effort and both defenses performed very well.
• HOU has to do a better job with its offensive game planning; it’s not on par with its defensive game planning. With a below average OL, Watson simply is taking too many hits. He probably took at least a dozen blows in this game. At this rate, he will miss some games this season.
• DAL doesn’t have any other elite offensive weapons outside of RB Ezekiel Elliott and, like HOU, too much of the offense comes off of broken plays. However, we do like the Cowboys better in two- and three-TE sets. Their young TEs played well this game.
• DAL head coach Jason Garrett continues to be a bit fast and loose with his clock management, use of timeouts and challenges. At 3:56 in the fourth quarter, he challenged a non-reception call made on first-and-10 against his WR Tavon Austin. It seemed clear that Austin did not make the reception, but Garrett challenged it anyway. He lost and quickly burned his second TO in a close game.
• HOU seemed to struggle also with its clock management; offensive plays were not getting to Watson in a smooth, even manner. HOU had to burn TOs on a couple of occasions due to the play clock running down, once on a third-and-14 play, when the chances of making a first down would be slim in any event.