ARLINGTON, Texas – This one wasn't supposed to be like this. The Texans had other plans and nearly crashed the party altogether with an upset. But the Cowboys were able to drive the field and win it at the end, escaping with a 27-23 victory.
Still, every contest has those plays that can get overlooked but still changed the course of the game. Here are five that made a difference in this one:
Turpin's first-quarter fumble – Usually, first-quarter plays don't have a huge impact in a game, especially close ones like this. But seriously, what's the score of this game if KaVontae Turpin doesn't fumble a punt with Dallas leading 7-0? The Cowboys already had a dominant offensive and defensive drive and this game looked to be the blowout we expected. But Turpin's fumble changed the tide for the entire game as the Texans not only took advantage with a tying touchdown, but proceeded to outplay Dallas until the final drive.
Deep ball to Noah Brown – Early in the second quarter, the Cowboys were surprisingly behind by three and faced a third-and-13 before Dak Prescott rolled out of the pocket and found Noah Brown down the field for a 51-yard gain. Brown had to readjust his route and come back to make the catch right off the turf. That play led to a touchdown by Tony Pollard to give the Cowboys the lead again.
Gallimore's deflected pass – The Texans led, 23-20, and had the ball on the Cowboys' 40-yard line with 8:13 to play, looking to extend their lead. On third-and-4, Houston quarterback Jeff Driskel tried to dump off a pass to wideout Amari Rodgers, but defensive tackle Neville Gallimore was able to knife into the backfield and get his hands on the pass, knocking it down for an incompletion. The fact the Texans didn't get any yards there was a factor in them deciding to punt it back to the Cowboys.
D-Law saves the game with TFL – One minute it looked like Houston had just grabbed a two-score lead in the final minutes with a touchdown pass that was eventually ruled down at the 1-yard line. Still, the Texans had third-and-goal at the 1 and gave the ball to Rex Burkhead around the corner, but DeMarcus Lawrence was able to win at the line of scrimmage and blasted Burkhead for a 2-yard loss back to the 3. That put the Texans with a decision to make and they opted to go for it, which was also stuffed at the 2, setting up the game-winning drive for the Cowboys.
Brown strikes again on last drive – The Cowboys were on the move, down by three with 1:21 to play and the ball at the Houston 40-yard line. At that point, getting a field goal was the primary goal, but getting a touchdown for the win was still on the table, especially after Prescott hit Brown for an 18-yard completion to the right side. Brown's diving catch put the Cowboys in position to go win the game, which happened after another pass to tight end Dalton Schultz and a final run by Ezekiel Elliott with just 41 seconds left.