By HCR Staff | Oct. 10, 2018
There was no room for error in the battle for Texas. Sunday night’s showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans was a close, tough, physical matchup in which the Texans claimed a second consecutive victory in overtime.
There were only two touchdowns scored the entire game as defense dominated and offense seemed a little flat. Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott had a tough night against a stubborn Texans front seven, managing just 54 yards on 20 carries and 30 yards on seven catches. QB Dak Prescott also had trouble finding a rhythm throwing, barely over 200 yards with two picks. The Texans operated more smoothly, especially WR DeAndre Hopkins, who totaled over 150 yards but also had a costly turnover. The Cowboys tied it at 16 after a Brett Maher field goal with over five minutes left in regulation.
The Cowboys won the toss and elected to get the ball first in overtime. Dallas managed to march to the Houston 42 with 6:23 left. Facing a third-and-2, Prescott passed to Elliott for maybe a half-yard. Head coach Jason Garrett had a critical fourth-down decision to make. A field goal was out of question from that distance, so it came down to going for it or punting away.
We believe he should have gone for it. He had the weapons to convert a fourth-and-short, despite Elliott being contained all night and Prescott clearly not comfortable with the pass rush. The pros of going for it here and being aggressive slightly outweighed the cons. If you convert successfully, you have a chance to win the game with a touchdown, or at the very least kick a field goal and put the pressure on Houston. If you don’t convert, that gives the Texans a short field needing just a field goal to win. But playing on the road in a non-conference game, it was a good time to take chances.
That is not what happened, however, to many Cowboys’ fans displeasure. Garrett elected to punt, pin the Texans deep (which they did, at the 10), and trust a defense that played well all night. Unfortunately for Garrett and the Cowboys, DeAndre Hopkins sunk them with a vicious 49-yard reception that put the Texans in field-goal range.
Despite the outcome, Garrett defended his decision to punt, noting the fourth-and-1 was more like a fourth-and-1-and-a-half. Garrett also stated that they had a play in mind if they were going to convert but the Texans stopping the third-down play convinced him otherwise. Garrett’s thought process makes sense and isn’t necessarily “wrong” in this case. It was a very tough call to make and that’s why it is this week’s Situational Call.