ReFo: Texans @ Cowboys, Week 5
In what was billed as the battle of Texas, this game instead turned into the battle of running backs, as both Arian Foster and DeMarco Murray did their best to propel each of their teams to a 4-1 start. Murray managed 136 yards rushing, while Foster was even better with 157 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. After some costly turnovers early, it appeared that Dallas had the game wrapped up late in the fourth quarter. Houston however managed 10 points in the last three minutes, and then survived a 53 yard game-winning field goal attempt that kicker Dan Bailey, after making 30 consecutive field goals, pushed just left. Overtime saw the Texans getting the ball first. But after forcing a punt, it was the Cowboys getting into field goal range again for Bailey, thanks to a terrific catch from Dez Bryant. This time he was true from 49 yards out, and Dallas escaped with a 20-17 overtime victory.
Houston Texans – Performances of Note
Arian Foster, RB: +2.3
Breakdown: Foster contributed most of the heavy lifting for the Texans’ offense again, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick struggling to get much going in the passing game. Among his 157 yards rushing, Foster managed 81 Yards After Contact, and forced three missed tackles.
Signature Play: Q3, 8:56 remaining. Foster makes a terrific move on Cowboys safety Barry Church, and then sprints in from the 15 yard line for Houston’s first touchdown.
Whitney Mercilus, OLB: -3.4
Breakdown: After a good start in the opener, this was Mercilus’ third contest in the red in the four games since. His biggest liability was in the pass rush, where he totaled just one hit on Tony Romo in 27 pass rushing snaps, all while contributing only two stops versus the run.
Signature Stat: He has a Pass Rush Productivity rating of just 8.1 this season.
Chris Myers, C: +2.8
Breakdown: Myers continued his up and down season with his best performance to date. His strongest work was in run blocking, helping open up holes for Foster. Houston running backs gained 48 yards on just seven carries off the center’s blocks.
Signature Play: OT, 15:00 remaining. On the first play of overtime, Myers first helps with the double team on the defensive tackle, then climbs to clear out the linebacker, paving the way for a 24 yard run by Foster.
Dallas Cowboys – Performances of Note
Justin Durant, OLB: +2.0
Breakdown: Durant led the Cowboys with four stops on defense among his eight tackles and three assists. He allowed just one reception on two targets for five yards against Houston, after notching an interception and a pass defensed last week in New Orleans.
Signature Stat: He hasn’t missed a single tackle this year in 171 snaps, after missing eight tackles in just 202 snaps last year.
Dallas Offensive Line: +10.6 (combined run blocking)
Breakdown: The entire Cowboys offensive line was instrumental in Murray’s big day, opening holes for their running back on a consistent basis. Leading the way was left guard Ronald Leary, who managed an overall +5.8. At right guard the Cowboys’ 1st-round pick Zack Martin also had a nice afternoon (+3.3 overall), and both showed their mobility when pulling on multiple occasions.
Signature Play: Q4, 12:00 remaining. Here the line does a good job blocking both at the point of attack, and climbing to the second level to create a lane for Murray for an 18 yard gain.
Terrance Williams, WR: -1.5
Breakdown: It was feast or famine with Williams, as he combined a terrific touchdown catch with a couple of drops. He caught just 2-of-6 targets, albeit for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Signature Play: Q3, 6:18 remaining. Here he pulls in his touchdown reception, finishing his post route to give Romo a target, while the quarterback kept the play alive with his trademark scrambling before heaving it into the endzone.
PFF Game Ball
For controlling the line of scrimmage in both the run and passing game, the Cowboys offensive line gets our game ball.
Follow Roland on Twitter: @PFF_RolandB