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Week 5 Game Recap: Dallas Cowboys 16, Houston Texans 19


What you need to know

Dallas Cowboys

For a second straight week, the game script was perfect for Dallas’ offense to stay close to the vest with as many runs (29) as passes attempted against Houston. Ezekiel Elliott saw his typical workhorse volume, but was held in check as an interior runner with no short-range goal line opportunities. The lone flicker of light in the passing game was Geoff Swaim, who showed some athleticism on two sizeable gains and a second rogue long reception by Tavon Austin this season. Dallas remains in search of dependable outside wide receiver production, one which may continue all season.

Houston Texans

Lamar Miller is a good to go in week six against the Buffalo Bills.

With the Texans making no real moves at the running back spot, the return of D’Onta Foreman is becoming clear. Expect him in week 7 vs. Jacksonville.

Dallas Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 29 - 208 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 6 - 34 - 0
Prescott was a limiting element for Dallas’ offense against Houston. While his mobility was a net positive, both as a runner and escaping pocket pressure, his glaring misses as a passer stood out as Dallas’ run game was stuck in neutral most of the game. Prescott’s mistakes were all over the map with throws behind Allen Hurns and Tavon Austin as well as key overthrows of Cole Beasley and Deonte Thompson. Prescott’s playmaking was more impressive than his traditional in-rhythm throws as he escaped from Jadeveon Clowney on multiple occasions to prevent sacks, including breaking two tackles and throw across his body on a deep completion to Tavon Austin and another flipping a pass to Ezekiel Elliott to prevent a sack. The biggest roadblock for Prescott has been passing on third down and the lack of wide receiver separation and offensive line protection in those settings. Prescott made a handful of positive plays on scrambles, but Dallas remains a struggling offense when asked to win in obvious passing situations.

RB Ezekiel Elliott, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 54 - 0, Rec: 7 - 30 - 0 (7 targets)
Ezekiel Elliott saw more than 25 touches for the second straight game. The game script was positive as Dallas’ defense kept their struggling offense in the game against Houston. Interior runs were a struggle all game for Elliott, who rarely left the field. Normally a high conversion rate on short-yardage carries, Elliott was stuffed on two of his three third-and-one opportunities this week and saw no short-range touchdown opportunities. One of his key third-and-short negative plays came in overtime, stalling a potential game-winning drive. His longest runs came on cutback lanes and when showing extreme patience for secondary blocks to develop. Elliott also had a 15-yard run called back by penalty. As a receiver, Elliott had his second straight game being featured and seeing time as a split out receiver. With Dallas’ receivers struggling on the outside, Elliott offered an advantageous matchup to exploit late in the game.

WR Cole Beasley, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets)
Beasley was a shadow against the Texans, having his worst statistical game of the season. Beasley’s lone reception came in overtime on a quick out route. Earlier in the game, one of Dak Prescott’s worst throws was in Beasley’s direction, an overthrow which was nearly intercepted on third down. Beasley and Dallas’ offense faces Jacksonville next week.

WR Michael Gallup, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (3 targets)
Gallup was stifled yet again as the de factor top receiver for Dallas. His lone catch came on a red zone crossing route for a short gain. Otherwise, it was a forgettable day for Gallup as two targets in tight coverage were tipped away and he dropped a comeback route on another. As the sample size grows Gallup as looked more like a secondary receiver in the NFL if surrounded by a higher-level receiver or two rather than a headline target on a middling passing offense.

TE Geoff Swaim, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 55 - 0 (3 targets)
Swaim was underutilized against Houston, seeing a mere three targets will being the most successful option for Dallas’ struggling passing game. Swaim gained more than 30 yards on a well-designed screen pass early in the game, showing quality speed for a big tight end. Swaim’s other two receptions were impressive, stretching down on a low target to convert a much needed third down and corralling another low pass on the other. Swaim has shown red zone and open field ability over the last two games and with the rest of the Dallas passing game struggling, Swaim has a strong case for a rise in usage going forward.


Houston Texans

QB Deshaun Watson, 80 offensive snaps, Pass: 33 - 44 - 375 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 10 - 40 - 0
It continues to be a strong effort for the Texans quarterback and despite one interception late in the 4th quarter after protection broke down. It was another solid day passing for Watson throwing for 375 and a touchdown. If the Texans could get their red zone woes cleaned up, Watson’s production would be so much better especially from a touchdown stand point. Watson continues to depend on DeAndre Hopkins in key situations and it was the first time in a while that he depended on a tight end to move the ball. Watson went to Ryan Griffin and got the chains moving with 6 passes for 65 yards on the day. Watson’s command in the passing game has improved so much, he completion percentage is climbing too. He also had 40 yards rushing but some of those yards resulted in hits that were not necessary for him. His style of play at the moment is an issue, Watson is going to have to learn to get down and avoid hits.

RB Alfred Blue, 79 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 46 - 0, Rec: 8 - 73 - 0 (8 targets)
It was the Alfred Blue show on Sunday night and the Texans had him on the field for all but one offensive snap. There were a lot of short runs and even some negative runs but he provided some of the best work for a running back they have had all season. With 119 total yards, 46 rushing and 73 receiving, it was a solid effort from the veteran back. His 28 yard reception that had a stiff arm involved too and that has been the longest reception of the season from that position. He also found some cut back creases in the run game and his longest run was 17 yards on the night. It was a strong effort for Blue on the night and was instrumental on getting the offense out of some tight holes.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, 80 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 151 - 0 (13 targets)
What can you say about a player that is moving into the elite realm of the wide receiver position. He continues to change games and when Deshaun Watson needs a big play, the ball is coming to him. Hopkins had a 49 yard reception that set up the game winning field goal. That play showcased his complete skill set, hands catch and a couple of spins to get downfield. Hopkins had a red zone target but the ball was thrown short allowing the defender to break up the pass. Hopkins did his damage in the 10-19 yard range catching seven passes that were more than 10+ yards. Hopkins is a catching machine and even with the added wide receivers around him, he is primary target of an offense that has no issues gaining yards.

WR Keke Coutee, 57 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 6 - 51 - 1 (7 targets)
It was a slow day for Coutee but he did start the scoring off with a 1-yard jet sweep for a touchdown by dipping and diving into the end zone. After that, he was quiet until late in the game coming up with some key receptions. He had an impressive 18 yard catch on a key 3rd down play late in the game. He also had receptions for 12, 10 and 8 giving Watson another target in the middle of the field. Like last week, Coutee is finally the slot receiver this offense has been searching for.

WR Will Fuller, 77 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)
It was a down day for Will Fuller and he was on the field for most of the game but only had two receptions for 15 yards. Fuller has been dealing with a hamstring all week but it appears he was as decoy most of the game with no real vertical presence. He was only targeted three times and one of those the ball was deflected by a linebacker rushing Watson.

TE Ryan Griffin, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 65 - 0 (9 targets)
It is was the first game in sometime a tight end has been really involved in a game plan but part of that might have been lower targets to Will Fuller. Griffin did a solid job of finding spots on in the defense and extending drives for the offense. He had receptions for 12, 11, 10 and 8 to notch first downs, he also missed a tough catch in the end zone that went right through his hands on tight coverage. Also, if Watson would have let a play develop in the red zone, there could have been an easy pitch and catch for a touchdown.