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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 07: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans scrables under pressure from Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at NRG Stadium on October 7, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Texans picked up a 19-16 home win in overtime Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Ka’imi Fairbairn hit a 36-yard field goal to give the Texans the victory. DeAndre Hopkins set up the game-winning score with a 49-yard reception in which he weaved through the Cowboys defense and got the ball down to the Dallas 27-yard line.

Deshaun Watson’s streak of 300-yard passing games grew to four after he finished with 375 yards, one touchdown and an interception through the air.

The Texans defense entered Week 5 having allowed 288 passing yards per game, which ranked 27th. Houston’s secondary successfully held Dak Prescott in check. The Cowboys quarterback was 18-of-29 for 208 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

     

Deshaun Watson Must Scale Back Aggressive Running Style 

Watson appeared in seven games as a rookie before a torn ACL ended his season. Given that injury, one would expect him to be more cautious when he tucks the ball and runs.

The opposite was true Sunday night, as Watson left himself exposed to a number of big hits by deciding not to slide or get out of bounds before the contact arrived.

The Robert Griffin III comparison was particularly apt. Griffin was a revelation as a rookie in 2012, but his knee injury in the 2013 playoffs was entirely predictable given his willingness to welcome punishment. The former Heisman Trophy winner was never the same quarterback after that injury.

Luckily for Watson, his ACL injury hasn’t meant losing the athleticism that makes him a dynamic quarterback.

Now, he needs to understand he’s the franchise cornerstone. The long-term risks far outweigh whatever short-term benefit Watson and his team receive when he puts his head down to fight for extra yards.

The Texans and Watson must work to strike a balance between maintaining his threat to scramble and limiting the number of times he absorbs unnecessary contact.

     

Jaylon Smith, Cowboys Defense Becoming Team’s Biggest Strength

The story largely remains the same with the Cowboys offense. Dallas had 292 total yards and averaged 4.9 yards per play.

Outside of his incredible scramble and 44-yard pass to Tavon Austin in the fourth quarter, Prescott didn’t have much of an impact Sunday night.

Were it not for the Dallas defense, the Cowboys likely wouldn’t have been in the game at all in the fourth quarter. Time and again, their defense stepped up at the biggest moments.

Nobody had a bigger hand in that than second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith, who had 12 tackles, including three tackles for loss.

Smith suffered a major knee injury in his final college game, and as recently as this spring ESPN.com’s Todd Archer wondered what kind of player he could be for the Cowboys. While one game won’t put Smith into the Pro Bowl, he looks to have gotten back to the player everybody thought he could be at Notre Dame.

Until the offense starts pulling its own weight, Dallas will have to lean heavily on its defense to climb to the top of the NFC East.

 

Red-Zone Struggles Continue to Hinder Texans Offense

Entering Week 5, the Texans scored a touchdown on 43.75 percent of their red-zone drives, which ranked 27th, according to TeamRankings.com. The problem continued Sunday.

With 10 minutes, one second left in the fourth quarter, the Texans got the ball on the Cowboys’ 1-yard line after a defensive pass interference in the end zone. Two run plays went for no gain, and Watson threw an incomplete pass on third down.

Houston settled for a 19-yard field goal by Fairbairn to go ahead three points, 16-13. That allowed Brett Maher to tie the game on Dallas’ next possession with a 48-yard field goal.

The Texans simply can’t leave so many points on the board every week. That’s how you end up with an offense that ranks fifth in yardage (413.8 per game) but 15th in scoring (24.0 points per game). Along with that, it’s little surprise all five of Houston’s games have been decided by seven points or fewer.

The Texans will struggle to be a playoff team unless they start capitalizing on their offensive opportunities inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

     

What’s Next?

The Texans stay at home for Week 6 to play the Buffalo Bills. Houston dropped its first game against an AFC East team this season. The Cowboys move on to what will likely be a difficult matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars at AT&T Stadium.

Bleacher Report – Front Page

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