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Eatman: Without The Stand, There is No Final Drive


ARLINGTON, Texas – Sometimes, you just have to go for a drive.

Sure, there are easier, quicker ways to get from Point A to Point B. It might not always be the cheapest, but when it doubt, get in the car and make a drive.

That's basically what the Cowboys did, dusting off nearly four quarters of inconsistent and at times incompetent football to put together a drive for the ages – with the game on the line.

Let's not get crazy and say the "season" was on the line. This team has won too many games and has all but locked up a playoff spot. But what they did do was save themselves from utter embarrassment because there was no way the Cowboys and Texans should have played a game like this.

Houston played arguably its best game of the season, especially on defense. The Cowboys played one of their worst games since the Week 1 debacle against the Buccaneers.

At least that game was against Tom Brady and a team not too far removed from winning a Super Bowl. This game was against a couple of quarterbacks, one of whom wasn't even on the roster until the weekend. And the Texans overall had won just a single game, but yet the combination of Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel was giving the Cowboys everything they wanted.

That is, until the Cowboys decided to make a stand ... a defensive stand.

As much as you'll read about the 98-yard game-winning drive, it doesn't happen at all without the defensive effort in the final four minutes with their backs against the proverbial wall.

For a second, it appeared the Texans had actually scored the clinching touchdown with 4:50 to play. But this receiver named Chris (Jerry Rice) Moore, who torched the Cowboys for 10 catches and 124 yards, just couldn't quite get to 125. Had he got an extra yard, he scores and the Texans go up by 10. But the referees ruled him down at the 1-yard line, and the Texans went back to the ground attack with two chances to put this game away.

But the third-and-goal play, to me, was the play of the game. If DeMarcus Lawrence doesn't get into the backfield and drop Rex Burkhead for a 2-yard loss, the Cowboys don't win this one.

Personally, I thought Houston should've kicked the field goal to go up 6, but I definitely understand why Lovie Smith decided to win it with a touchdown. But the Cowboys didn't let it happen as they once again stopped Driskel, who initially went the wrong way before getting stuffed by Anthony Barr and Neville Gallimore at the 2.

And that's when the alarm clock finally went off for the Cowboys offense. Dak Prescott, at that point, had been the third-best quarterback of the day, and that's never a good thing. He wasn't having his best day and the offensive line was a big reason for that.

But the decision to put Jason Peters in at right tackle for Josh Ball proved to be a good one. I'll have to go back and watch the film again, but I did see No. 71 throwing around some defenders. I know I didn't see anyone in Dak's face on that final drive, and the Cowboys offense just carved up the Texans like a surgeon.

Dalton Schultz found every hole in the defense and Dak also made some plays with his legs. His pass to Noah Brown was a beauty, but Brown's diving catch was better.

I thought the Cowboys worked the clock to perfection, forcing Houston to use all of its timeouts before the third-down run that looked like it was a case of Hey, Zeke, take this ball, run it as hard as you can and don't let anyone think about stopping you.

That was an amazing drive by the Cowboys, but fitting to the entire day, you just knew it wasn't going to be over like that. Not today. The Cowboys had to make an interception in the end zone to stop a Hail Mary and secure the win.

Wow, that was exhausting just to write and the game is about two hours old at this point.

But as close as it was at the end, I really think the Cowboys win this one about 35-7 if KaVontae Turpin doesn't fumble in the first quarter. It's weird how one play – early in the game – can have such an effect, but I truly believe that play changed the entire day for both teams.

Still, the Cowboys found a way, both on offense and defense … just not in that order.

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