It wasn't much of a game for the rest of us, it being the fourth and final preseason matchup and all, but for those men who were battling to remain a part of the Cowboys two days from now, it was indeed a very important affair.
And although they tried to give the crowd of 81,016 on hand their best, on this night that effort unfortunately didn't produce very good results, the Cowboys falling to the downstate rival Texans, 28-17. Dallas managed only 161 yards of total offense in the game while Houston was able to rack up 374. The visitors dominated most of the other statistical categories as well, including first downs (25 to 12) and time of possession (39:39 to 21:21).
Perhaps taking center stage for the Cowboys on this night was quarterback Jameill Showers and running back Darius Jackson. Both came into the game with an uncertain future. Could Showers prove that he was worth keeping around for continued development? Could Jackson break through a deep and talented running back group?
Neither was exactly spectacular with Showers posting only 91 yards off of 10-for-25 passing with one touchdown and one interception while playing the entire game. Jackson did most of his work in the first half and was a bit better, finishing with just 20 yard rushing on eight carries, but adding 32 receiving yards thanks to three catches.
The highlight for both came on the same play when on the Cowboys' second drive of the game, the offense set up a pretty screen that allowed the quarterback to find his running back wide open underneath. Jackson then scampered untouched 18 yards to give Dallas an early 7-0 lead.
[embeddedad0]Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense was the very epitome of bend don't break through most of the first half, before it later turned into mostly just break. The Texans drove to the Dallas 18-yard line on their initial possession of the game, only to have defensive end David Irving knock the ball loose from running back Kenny Hilliard. Safety Jeff Heath was then on hand to scoop it up and give the home team possession, which eventually led to Jackson's score.
That was later followed in the second quarter when Houston again marched deep into Cowboys' territory, this time getting as close as the 5-yard line. But on a fourth-and-goal, defensive end Mike McAdoo was able to sack quarterback Brandon Weeden – yes, that Brandon Weeden – to keep the visitors off the scoreboard.
And they nearly pulled it off again after Showers fumbled the ball away on his own 11-yard line. The defense again forced a fourth-and-goal, but this time the Texans' Akeem Hunt was able to power in from the 3-yard line, the game tied 7-7.
After that, things largely went downhill, beginning when Weeden hit wide receiver Keith Mumphery in stride on a 64-yard touchdown pass with just 33 seconds left in the second quarter. Dan Bailey came back to split the uprights on a 52-yarder as the half expired, but Houston still enjoyed the advantage at the break.
Once the Texans then opened the third quarter by marching down the field on an 11-play, 80-yard drive to the end zone, the game was more or less left to the scouts and the ticking clock.
Rookie cornerback Anthony Brown provided some excitement when he stepped in front of a Weeden pass and took it back 59 yards for a pick-six. But that would be about all the Cowboys could muster and the Texans salted the game away when safety Antonio Allen picked off Showers, who was throwing out of his own end zone, and waltzed in from 9 yards out for the game's final score.
The Cowboys now have two days to make their final cuts to get down to their 53-man roster. They'll then prepare to host the New York Giants for the 2016 season opener, which will be on Sept. 11 at AT&T Stadium.
Check out some of our favorite photos from the preseason finale against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium on Thursday, September 1st.