*Watch the live streaming video of coach Gary Kubiak's weekly press conference at 3:30 p.m. CT Monday on Texans TV.
The Texans came back down to earth on Sunday in one of their most anticipated matchups of the season.
Riding high from consecutive wins to begin the year, the Texans entered Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys with an opportunity to send their upstate rivals to their third loss in a row.
What transpired in front of a Reliant Stadium-record crowd of 71,456 fans was a 27-13 defeat that featured three Houston turnovers and five penalties for 32 yards. In addition, quarterback Matt Schaub was sacked four times, including three by Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
"We struggled today," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We made mistakes. We weren't very good in the red zone. We hurt ourselves with some big penalties. Everybody's good in this league. It depends on how you play, and we just didn't play good enough to win. Dallas is excellent, and they did a great job."
Houston made three trips inside the Cowboys' 20-yard line but converted only once, on a seven-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Kevin Walter with less than two minutes left to play. By that time, the game was out of reach. Wide receiver David Anderson's recovery of the ensuing onside kick was too little, too late.
"I think we had our chances," Kubiak said. "We were going to be in a great football game. We're inside the 10, 3-0 game. We had our chances. We went backwards (with a penalty). We're on the one-yard line in a 14-point game. The crowd is into the game. We've got a whole quarter left to play, and we went backwards. When we really needed to stand up defensively, we gave up some big plays. It's an all-around situation, not just one group or another."
To add injury to insult, wide receiver Andre Johnson aggravated his right ankle on an 11-yard catch in the third quarter. He limped off the field with assistance and returned after getting re-taped on the sideline. His status for Week 4 is still to be determined.
"What I was just told as I walked out of the locker room is that they don't think it is worse than it was (last week)," Kubiak said of his conversation with the team trainers. "I didn't see any reason to let (Johnson) go out there and take another shot on it. I'm trying to get him to next week (at Oakland)."
The Texans captured the momentum early when they stopped Dallas on fourth-and-two from the Houston 29 on the opening series.
On the Texans' second possession, running back Arian Foster gained 21 yards on third-and-19 to set up the first score on Neil Rackers' 24-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
Besides a fumble in the fourth quarter, Foster had another impressive outing with 106 yards on 17 carries (6.2 avg.).
"I thought we actually ran the ball pretty good, but we had nothing to show for some of our ball movement because as we stepped forward, we would take two steps back," Kubiak said.
Down 10-3 at halftime, Houston tried to regroup in the third quarter, but Schaub was picked off by cornerback Mike Jenkins at the Dallas 14 on a go route intended for Johnson. On the play, Johnson collided briefly with Jenkins to knock him off his route.
"I was actually trying to go by the guy," Johnson said. "At times like that, you would like to have a jump ball because (Jenkins) didn't really pressure me or anything like that."
The Cowboys capitalized with a four-minute drive that Williams capped off with a 15-yard touchdown reception. With 10:02 left in the game, Williams scored again on a 63-yard touchdown to make the score 24-6 after rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson slipped near the line of scrimmage.
Houston allowed 284 net passing yards without intercepting a pass.
"We keep giving up plays," safety Bernard Pollard said. "We make mistakes and we need to stop making them. We can't give up 27 points. We can't do that. I think we have to find some way and somehow to man up and to stop this passing attack.
"We're young, but at the end of the day, everybody's getting paid. Nobody's giving any money back, so we have to improve."
Kubiak vows to help the secondary heading into next week's game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
"We're all young back there," he said. "It's not just Kareem. He's just going to have to step to the plate. That's the way we're going, and we've got to find a way to get it done."