FRISCO, Texas (AP)Dak Prescott has more interceptions through his first eight starts than at any point in his career.
The star Dallas quarterback’s response to his ninth interception of the season was impressive, leading a 98-yard drive after giving Houston a great chance to complete a big upset.
After the Cowboys beat the one-win Texans 27-23 with a touchdown in the final minute, Prescott told himself to knock it off with the picks.
”It’s very, very frustrating,” Prescott said. ”It is not something that I’ve ever been OK with or will be OK with. I am not going to not be aggressive. I have to be smarter and just weigh the risk versus reward in a split second.”
The Cowboys (10-3) won’t apologize for needing a long drive late for a victory when favored by more than two touchdowns, nor should they.
They also need to remember they have the sub.-500 also-rans of the AFC South to thank for half of their four-game winning streak, with another one on deck.
After visiting Jacksonville (5-8) on Sunday, the next time Dallas plays a team with a losing record might be a wild-card playoff on the road against the winner of the struggling NFC South.
”Obviously, we have to clean it up,” Prescott said. ”But let’s give these other teams credit. We get everybody’s best shot. And we are thankful for that because it is only making us better and better as we go.”
Prescott missed five games after breaking the thumb on his throwing (right) hand in the opener.
The Dallas offense has been among the best in the NFL since he returned, but wasn’t close to that for the first 58 minutes against the Texans.
Such a showing is cause for concern with a franchise trying to go deep in the playoffs for the first time since winning the most recent of its five Super Bowl titles to finish the 1995 season.
Still, owner Jerry Jones wasn’t showing much concern.
”Give their coaching staff credit,” Jones said. ”That’s neither here nor there, all my mind is on totally is that 98-yard drive to win the game. Hello, Dak Prescott. I know I’m being cute, or trying to be cute, but really that’s what I’m looking at. Completely that’s what I’m looking at.”
Although TE Dalton Schultz had a drop on a hard hit at the goal line to force Dallas to settle for a field goal late in the first half, he had three catches for 52 yards on the winning drive to give him a season-high 87 yards for the game.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Cowboys are about to have some moving parts in their offensive line.
Eight-time Pro Bowl LT Tyron Smith could play for the first time after tearing a hamstring in training camp, just as RT Terence Steele exits, with as the club announcing Monday he tore the ACL in his left knee against the Texans.
Jason Peters might have solidified Steele’s spot after the 18-year veteran came on for the winning 98-yard drive, replacing Josh Ball.
The biggest question raised by Smith’s return is where rookie first-round pick Tyler Smith goes after filling in for him all season. The younger Smith has been working at left guard, where Connor McGovern plays.
McGovern has been getting some work at center, where Tyler Biadasz plays. It’s an interesting situation a month before the playoffs at a position that needs as much continuity as possible.
K Brett Maher is quietly putting together possibly his best season after coming to training camp late when a kicking competition fizzled. He’s 21 of 24, with two of the misses from at least 50 yards.
His 53-yarder early in the fourth quarter kept the Cowboys within three with a potential upset looming, and took some of the pressure off the final drive by not making a TD mandatory.
Kick returner KaVontae Turpin fumbled a punt when it appeared Dallas would take control of the game early. Then he let a punt bounce that he should have caught around the Dallas 7-yard line, pinning the Cowboys at their 1. Prescott’s interception came soon after before a defensive stop and the winning TD drive.
Steele was just part of a costly day against Houston. Rookie TE Jake Ferguson injured his neck and didn’t return. DT Johnathan Hankins, a trade acquisition who has helped a leaky run defense, injured his right arm/shoulder making a tackle on a fourth down stop in the first half.
DE Dorance Armstrong was in a walking boot after the Houston game, and CB Trevon Diggs had to be treated for a thumb injury but returned. S Jayron Kearse injured a knee during warmups but played.
10 – The Cowboys have double-digit victories in consecutive seasons for the first time since the last of six in a row in 1995-96. Now they’re trying to finish off back-to-back playoff trips for the first time since 2006-07.
The Cowboys are running out of time to catch NFL-leading Philadelphia in the NFC East. They’re two games back with four to go. The Eagles won the first meeting. The rematch is in two weeks, on Christmas Eve.
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