Going into Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys were staring down the barrel of an 0-3 start for the first time since 2001.
The 2-0 Houston Texans were expected to embarrass their neighbor to the north by a double-digit margin. However, this time it was the Cowboys handing out the humble pie.
Linebacker Demarcus Ware set the tone of the game by blowing past the Texans offensive line, and sacking quarterback Matt Schaub on the second play of the Texans second series.
The Texans were hammered by the Dallas defense all game long. They scored only one touchdown. The score came on a seven-yard short pass to wide receiver Kevin Walter in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys had a defense with no takeaways thus far this season. The Cowboys defense sacked Schaub four times and of those four sacks, three belonged to Cowboys linebacker Demarcus Ware.
The suspension of left tackle Duane Brown left Schaub vulnerable to the Cowboys blitz.
The Cowboys defense limited the high-powered Texans offense to just 340 yards. The Texans' offense couldn’t establish any rhythm all game long.
The Cowboys' defense got their first three takeaways of the season, and limited Texans All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub’s favorite target, to four catches for 64 yards.
Part of the reason Matt Schaub struggled in this game was his inability to release the ball quickly while facing the Cowboys defensive rush. This is a problem he had in the close win over Washington as well.
For the first time this season, the Cowboys held a lead going into halftime. They took a 7-3 lead when they executed a 13-play, 80-yard drive, which ended with a one-yard touchdown run by running back Marion Barber.
Wide receiver Miles Austin caught two passes on critical third down conversions to keep the drive going.
The Cowboys are still unsure if David Buehler is the answer at kicker, but his future looks a little brighter. Buehler made a serious case for keeping his job as he made field goals from 42 and 49 yards.
The Texans kicker Neil Rackers made field goals from 24 yards with 11:06 left in the second quarter, and from 30 yards with 12:03 left in the fourth quarter.
The only area in which the Texans preformed better than the Cowboys was in penalties. Since 2007, the Cowboys have been ranked third in the league for committing penalties.
Sunday was no different as they committed eight penalties for 49 yards, compared to Houston's five for 32 yards.
The Dallas Cowboys finally turned in the performance many have been waiting for as they achieved a decisive victory over a Texans team that many believed to be a playoff contender.
This victory sends the Cowboys into their early bye week with a degree of optimism.
The situation in Dallas appears a lot less dire than the way it looked before kickoff in Houston. Perhaps the sky really isn’t falling, and this team can live up to its potential.
Winning 27-13 over the league’s No. 1 offense is certainly a great start.
Rachel Trimm is a Jabberhead, blogger, & SJ Contributing Author. Read more of her works at Ray's Sports Ramblings: The Gridiron Edition.