ARLINGTON – ‘I guess all good things must come to an end,’ said kicker Dan Bailey of his end-of-regulation miss in what would become Dallas’ 20-17 overtime win over Houston. ‘But the good thing is, you can always start again.’ Thanks to Bailey and many others, Dallas’ start is a 4-1 one – its finest in five years.
After missing the 53-yard field goal that would have given the Dallas Cowboys the win and extended the franchise streak for consecutive made field goals to 31, kicker Dan Bailey got that "start-again” shot to kick a 49-yarder in overtime to give Dallas a win over visiting Houston and a shared portion of first place in the NFC East.
Were the Cowboys at all worried?
"Have you seen our football team for the past years?” coach Jason Garrett said. "The guy is pretty damn good."
Perhaps an equally clutch play occurred on the game-winning OT drive. With third-and-8 from the Dallas 32, Tony Romo threw a chuck-and-dunk deep ball down the left sideline intended for Dez Bryant, who helicoptered over corner Jonathan Joseph for a 37-yard catch to move the chains.
Added Garrett: "It was obviously the play of the game.”
Actually, there were lots of those. And lots of "Decisions of the Game,” too. The Cowboys wanted to get closer for Bailey’s final chance, but chose to kick on third down in case there was a mishap on the field goal try.
"Dan Bailey’s a great kicker,” Garrett said, "and we wanted to give him a chance to win the game. … He’s as locked-in and focused an individual as I’ve ever been around."
Predicted to manhandle the Texans (Dallas was a six-point favorite despite both clubs coming into the game with a 3-1 record) the Cowboys struggled with turnovers in the first half. Heading into halftime, Dallas led only 3-0, an oddity not seen since 2002 against the Lions. … but a compliment to a Cowboys defense that this season has been surprisingly stout.
After falling down 7-3 midway through the third, Dallas mounted a four-play drive to go up 10-7. Tony Romo magically spun out of J.J. Watt’s dead-to-rights sack and found Terrance Williams for a 43-yard score.
Romo threw an interception in the red zone looking for Bryant two plays into the fourth quarter, but the Dallas defense stiffened. Dwayne Harris’ 38-yard punt return gave the Cowboys another shot at the Texans 30. Romo hit Dez this time for a two-yard touchdown on a patented back-shoulder throw.
The Texans scored 10 points in a 1:45 span with a Randy Bullock 29-yard field goal and a one-yard Arian Foster touchdown to tie the game, some botched clock management by Dallas contributing to the aforementioned "Decisions of the Game.”
But in the end, Dallas overcame the challenges and now heads to Seattle to face a Seahawks club that has won their past six home games at loud-and-proud CenturyLink Field, where the Cowboys all-time are a paltry 1-3 in the building. Next week’s game will be another barometer of where the Cowboys rank in the conference.
"We’re not all grown-up yet,” veteran cornerback Brandon Carr said. "But we’re growing. And we’re growing to believe in ourselves.”