NFL News & Analysis

NFL Preseason Week 2 Game Recap: Houston Texans 20, Dallas Cowboys 14

Aug 21, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush (10) scrambles with the ball in the first half against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans scored 13 unanswered points in the second half and pulled away with the 20-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 of the 2021 NFL preseason. The Texans came away with the victory despite failing to convert on every third-down attempt (0-for-10).

Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci was the main culprit for Dallas' loss, as he threw three second-half interceptions that resulted in 10 points for the Texans.


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Dallas Cowboys

Quarterbacks
Quarterback Dropbacks Avg. depth of target Avg. time to throw Yards per dropback Adjusted comp. %
Garrett Gilbert 6 9.6 2.6s 6.0 60%
Cooper Rush 18 9.6 2.4s 7.5 78.6%
Ben DiNucci 23 7.3 2.7s 7.8 75%

Garrett Gilbert started the opening two series for the Cowboys, completing three of his five passes for 30 yards. Gilbert’s lowlight moment came in the first series, where he tripped over his own lineman on second down before getting strip-sacked on the following play.

Cooper Rush commanded the offense more efficiently than Gilbert, throwing for 97 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 attempts. After watching the pass rush get to Gilbert, Rush knew to get rid of the ball quickly, averaging just 1.7 seconds to throw.

DiNucci ultimately cost his team the game by throwing two inaccurate interceptions, and he later threw a third interception on the final drive to seal the game.

Running Backs

With no Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard started at running back and finished with five attempts for 20 yards, which mostly came on a 16-yard carry. Pollard played a lethal role as a receiver, catching two passes for 16 yards and a touchdown.

Rico Dowdle led the team with 31 rushing yards on an efficient 5.2 yards per carry.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Name Targets Receptions Yards Routes Run Drops
Simi Fehoko 3 2 24 20 0
Brandon Smith 3 3 21 11 0
Cedrick Wilson 3 3 22 14 0
Reggie Davis 3 1 10 10 0
Osirus Mitchell 3 2 31 12 0
Noah Brown 3 3 35 12 0
CeeDee Lamb 2 1 13 9 0
Nick Eubanks 2 1 9 25 0
Michael Gallup 2 1 4 7 0

Noah Brown, one of the team’s better run-blocking receivers, made a name for himself as a pass-catcher Saturday night, hauling in three passes for a team-high 35 yards. Cedrick Wilson also hauled in three passes for 22 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone.

CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup played just the first two series, but each pulled down one reception.

Blake Jarwin ran five routes and caught one pass for 25 yards that resulted in a first down.

Offensive Line
Name Snaps LT Snaps LG Snaps C Snaps RG Snaps RT Snaps Pressures allowed
Terence Steele 53 36 0 0 0 17 0
Brandon Knight 45 1 0 0 38 6 4
Connor McGovern 42 0 39 0 3 0 2
Connor Williams 41 0 19 22 0 0 0
Ty Nsekhe 38 16 0 0 0 22 1
Matt Farniok 34 0 0 34 0 0 0
Tyler Biadasz 19 0 0 19 0 0 1
La’el Collins 19 0 0 0 0 19 2
Braylon Jones 18 0 0 0 18 0 1
Isaac Smith 17 0 17 0 0 0 0
Eric Smith 17 6 0 0 0 11 0
Zack Martin 16 0 0 0 16 0 0
Tyron Smith 16 16 0 0 0 0 0

The Cowboys offensive line struggled to protect any of its quarterbacks against the Texans pass rush, as the unit combined to allow 13 pressures and five sacks.

La’el Collins played 12 pass protection snaps and finished with a 14.7 pass-blocking grade after allowing a sack and a quarterback hit.

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Defensive Line

Dallas’ defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, limiting the Texans to 89 rushing yards on 28 carries. The unit combined for seven stops and four tackles for loss.

Linebackers

Micah Parsons was all over the field for the Cowboys defense, creating pressure as well as playing a role in coverage. The 12th overall pick played 18 snaps and generated one quarterback pressure. As a position group, the linebackers combined for seven of the team’s 17 defensive stops.

Secondary

The Cowboys secondary had an impressive showing, as it created multiple pass breakups that resulted in a tough night for Texans receivers. On PFF’s first review, Dallas earned an 88.3 coverage grade. Anthony Brown, Jayron Kearse and Maurice Canady each forced an incompletion.

Malik Hooker saw action for the first time in a Cowboys uniform, playing 11 coverage snaps but receiving zero targets.

Houston Texans

Quarterbacks

Tyrod Taylor, again, started at quarterback, and he completed just two of his five attempts for only 10 yards. Outside of the opening drive, which started at the Dallas 23-yard line, Taylor went three-and-out on back-to-back drives. He didn’t throw a pass beyond 10 yards in an underwhelming performance.

Davis Mills mostly shined against the second- and third-team defenses, completing 10 of 16 passes for 115 yards. Thirty-two of his 115 yards came on one drive that resulted in the go-ahead field goal.

Jeff Driskel closed the game out by completing one pass and rushing for 23 yards.

Running Backs
Name ATT YDS YCO TD 1D YPC
Mark Ingram II 7 24 16 1 2 3.4
Jeff Driskel 5 23 15 0 2 4.6
Scottie Phillips 4 16 13 0 0 4.0
Rex Burkhead 1 4 3 0 1 4.0
Phillip Lindsay 4 2 4 0 1 0.5

Despite scoring the lone rushing touchdown of the game, the Texans struggled to move the ball on the ground. The running backs combined for 59 yards on 22 carries.

Mark Ingram II led the team with just 24 yards on seven attempts. Phillip Linsay had more attempts than yards while Scottie Phillips averaged four yards per carry.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Name Targets Receptions Yards Routes Run Drops
Jordan Veasy 3 2 30 13 2
Alex Erickson 3 2 18 13 2
Brandin Cooks 3 2 10 5 0
Keke Coutee 2 2 29 9 1
Chris Conley 3 0 0 12 1

Houston’s wide receivers struggled to create separation throughout the night, resulting in a relatively disappointing performance. Jordan Veasy led the team with 30 receiving yards on just two receptions.

Chris Conley played significantly worse compared to last week, failing to pull down any of his three targets, which included one drop.

Offensive Line
Name Snaps LT Snaps LG Snaps C Snaps RG Snaps RT Snaps Pressures allowed
Geron  Christian Sr. 36 36 0 0 0 0 1
Max Scharping 27 0 0 0 27 0 1
Charlie Heck 27 0 0 0 0 27 2
Carson Green 26 0 0 0 0 26 0
Justin McCray 23 0 14 9 0 0 0
Tytus Howard 19 0 19 0 0 0 0
Danny Isidora 19 0 10 0 9 0 1
Hjlate Froholdt 17 0 0 0 17 0 0
Ryan McCollum 17 0 0 17 0 0 1
Jordan Steckler 17 17 0 0 0 0 1
Cole Toner 17 0 3 14 0 0 1
Justin Britt 13 0 0 13 0 0 1
Drake Jackson 7 0 7 0 0 0 0

Houston’s offensive line only allowed one sack, but the Texans quarterbacks were under duress the entire night. As a unit, the offensive line allowed nine total pressures on 26 dropbacks.

Max Scharping and Geron Christian Sr. were each beaten by their defenders three times, earning pass-blocking grades of 37.2 and 30.4, respectively.

Defensive Line

The Texans defensive line was creating havoc the entire night, generating 10 total pressures and five sacks. Charles Omenihu led the team with two sacks and two tackles for loss.

Linebackers

Zach Cunningham played just 19 snaps but earned a 75.2 defensive grade after making plays for the Texans defense throughout the game. Neville Hewitt also shined defending the run, accumulating one tackle for loss.

Secondary

Lonnie Johnson Jr. made the play of the night for the Texans, intercepting an inaccurate pass from DiNucci and returning it 52 yards for a touchdown.

Shyheim Carter and Terrence Brooks each picked off DiNucci in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.

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