3 Takeaways from Cowboys' Week 14 Win vs. Texans

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2022

3 Takeaways from Cowboys' Week 14 Win vs. Texans

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    Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    In a game that was tougher than many might have expected, the Dallas Cowboys managed to outlast the Houston Texans, but only barely.

    Dallas, which fancies itself a title contender, actually had to come back against Houston. After the Texans notched a second-quarter lead, the Cowboys didn't regain it until less than a minute was remaining in the game.

    Against a 1-11-1 squad, this was a concerning performance, but Dallas did get the job done. The Cowboys move to 10-3 with the victory and are one step closer to making the postseason.

    Here are our three biggest takeaways from the Cowboys' 27-23 win over Houston in Week 14.

Miscues Nearly Cost Dallas

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    Cowboys WR KaVontae Turpin
    AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

    For most of Sunday's game, Houston looked to be the better team. However, this wasn't because the Texans suddenly figured out how to play high-level football. This was because the Texans weren't making the game-altering mistakes that Dallas was.

    This was an all-around sloppy game for the Cowboys, and it nearly cost them what should have been an easy win. The Texans have just one victory (and a tie) on the season, the Cowboys were playing at home.

    It required a game-winning 98-yard drive at the end to pull this one out.

    The Cowboys dug themselves into a hold with mistakes. Receiver/returner KaVontae Turpin muffed a punt in the first quarter, setting up Houston's first touchdown. Quarterback Dak Prescott tossed a pair of interceptions, one deep in Dallas territory in the fourth quarter.

    While Prescott was only sacked once, he had multiple balls battled at the line. While the defense did a decent job of limiting the ground game (3.1 yards per carry surrendered) the Texans still topped 100 rushing yards.

    Against a better opponent, Dallas probably hands over a victory—and the Cowboys would have had no one but themselves to blame.

The Defense, Prescott Come Up Big in Crunch Time

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    Dak Prescott
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    After everything that went wrong on Sunday, the Cowboys can still take a few positives away from this game. Specifically, they performed well in crunch time, which should give them a little confidence heading into Week 15.

    Credit the Dallas defense for allowing this win to be obtainable. Prescott's second interception set up Houston at the Dallas 4-yard line with less than six minutes remaining in the game.

    The Texans had a three-point lead at the time, and a touchdown would have made it extremely difficult for Dallas to mount a comeback. However, Demarcus Lawrence stuffed running back Rex Burkhead on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and Dallas stopped quarterback Jeff Driskel on fourth down.

    This gave the Cowboys the ball with 98 yards to cover before taking the lead. Prescott came up big on the drive, connecting on passes of 21 and 45 yards—sandwiched around a nine-yard scramble—to open it.

    When Ezekiel Elliot plunged into the end zone with less than a minute remaining, Dallas seized its opportunity to win, On the ensuing drive, the defense picked off Davis Mills to seal it.

    Granted, Dallas' clutch play didn't come against a great opponent, but the Cowboys' biggest stars came up big when it mattered most.

Dallas Must Refocus Immediately

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    Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy
    George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Dallas' sloppy play may have been the result of the team looking ahead. The Cowboys avoided this potential trap, but head coach Mike McCarthy must get his team focused immediately to avoid another.

    The Jacksonville Jaguars—a solid and improving 5-8 team—are on tap for next Sunday. After that are the Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders. Dallas' last three opponents are potential playoff teams, and three of the last four games are on the road.

    If the Cowboys hope to finish the season with momentum, they cannot play as poorly as they did against Houston.

    The good news is that Dallas can carry a little momentum into the Jags contest.

    "The great teams find a way to win those types of games,” tight end Dalton Schultz said, per Jori Epstein of Yahoo Sports. “So winning that game late obviously gives us a chunk of confidence."

    Confidence is great, but Dallas must get back to playing smart, efficient and complementary football if it hopes to get past Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars next week.

    Jacksonville is fresh off a dominant performance against Tennessee, and it won't simply roll over as Houston eventually did.