ARLINGTON, Texas – The number one goal of a final preseason game is to not get anyone hurt. The Dallas Cowboys couldn’t even accomplish that Thursday in a 24-6 loss to the Houston Texans.
Defensive tackle Sean Lissemore left the game in the third quarter with what head coach Jason Garrett described as a head injury.
Although listed as a backup – none of the Cowboys’ starters played in the game – Lissemore is part of the rotation at defensive tackle, an area already thin because of injuries.
“Lissemore’s status, we’ll see what it is,” Garrett said. “It looks like he got hit in the head, so we’ve got to see what his status is when he comes in tomorrow.”
Lissemore wasn’t the only Cowboy dazed by the Texans. Houston piled up 190 rushing yards, including 124 in the first half, and kept the Dallas defense on its heels.
Offensively, the Cowboys were limited to just two Dan Bailey field goals.
Backup running backs Joseph Randle and Phillip Tanner each had their moments, with the rookie Randle rushing for 47 yards on 10 attempts and Tanner gaining 35 on just six carries.
But that paled in comparison to Houston’s combo of Cierre Wood and Dennis Johnson, who rushed for 107 and 79 yards, respectively.
While backup quarterback Kyle Orton started the game for Dallas, the bulk of the snaps were taken by third-string candidate Alex Tanney who was 17-of-31 for 177 yards.
Tanney didn’t throw a touchdown and was intercepted once, but he didn’t get a whole lot of protection. Tanney was sacked seven times for a loss of 51 yards.
It all points to what was already known about the Cowboys: after the front line starters, things get awful thin.
“Obviously their group played better than our group,” Garrett said. “You can talk a lot of different ways about that. I think in some ways it does reflect on the depth of our football team right now.”
The Texans’ running game was at its best on a six-play, 87-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter to post an early 7-0 lead.
Another nine-play, 80-yard drive in the second quarter was capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass from Texans quarterback Case Keenum to Lestar Jean. Keenum got the start over starter Matt Schaub and backup T.J. Yates and was 9-of-13 for 128 yards.
That gave Houston a 14-3 lead at halftime, which the Texans would stretch to 24-3 in the fourth quarter when Yates hit Andy Cruse for a 21-yard score.
The Cowboys finished the preseason 2-3. After making roster cuts to a final 53 on Saturday, they can then concentrate on the Sept. 8 season opener with the New York Giants.
The Cowboys can also be thankful that most of the players who contributed to Thursday’s loss won’t play significant roles from here on.
Garrett attributed the breakdowns against the Texans to communication issues and inexperienced players, which often go hand-in-hand.
“Obviously you want to play better than we played tonight in all three phases of our football team,” Garrett said. “But again, a lot of young guys were playing, a lot of different combinations of guys, for us and for them.”