Texans fall to Cowboys 23-22

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Kevin Walter had a game-high six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.

IRVING, Texas – The Texans suffered their first defeat of the preseason Friday while playing the majority of the game with heavy hearts.

In a 23-22 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the teams' final meeting at Texas Stadium, the Texans had to wait more than 10 agonizing minutes in the first quarter after wide receiver Harry Williams lay motionless on the turf with a neck injury.

Williams, a special teams standout, was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation after inadvertently colliding with safety Nick Ferguson (

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"On the field, he was alert, but paralyzed from the neck down," Texans orthopedist Dr. Walter Lowe said. "His spine was immobilized and he was taken in an ambulance to Presbyterian Hospital-Dallas for evaluation. During his transportation to the hospital, he began to regain feeling in his arms and legs. At the current time, he has regained almost normal neurologic function. The evaluation at the hospital revealed a fracture of the C-3 vertebra and a significant ligamentous injury to the neck. This injury will require surgical stabilization this weekend."

The impact of the loss was evident in the subsequent minutes as the Cowboys scored 10 unanswered points to take an early lead. But the Texans showed their mettle the remainder of the game by forcing two Dallas turnovers deep in Houston territory. A third takeaway on special teams helped the Texans stay in the game.

With 2:05 left in the contest, quarterback Sage Rosenfels rushed eight yards on a draw and dove over the goal line to make the score 23-22. But coach Gary Kubiak wanted to win the game outright, so he kept the offense on the field for a two-point conversion. Despite what appeared to be an offsides penalty on Dallas, no flag was thrown and Rosenfels' pass to Jacoby Jones was tipped incomplete.

"Well, yeah, we're going to try to win the game," Kubiak said. "We've been out there a while, there were a few snaps, and we had a play to make right there. You've got to make a great play, but Dallas made the play. Give them credit."

Even with the loss, the Texans showed amazing heart and determination in outscoring Dallas 19-13 after the first quarter. Quarterback Matt Schaub completed 15-of-27 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown, while running backs Chris Taylor and Steve Slaton accounted for 91 yards on 21 carries (4.3 avg.).

"I thought they both (Taylor and Slaton) did some good things," Kubiak said. "It's the best Chris has looked in the preseason, and it was a big opportunity for him. I thought for them to get the opportunity to start this game against this type of defensive football team says a lot about their preparation, how far they've come. And we need them to come a long way."

Williams was injured on the kickoff return following Brown's 44-yard field goal, and after a long delay the Cowboys mounted a seven-play, 51-yard drive that wide receiver Patrick Crayton finished with a six-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Tony Romo.

Following a three-and-out by the Texans, Cowboys kicker Nick Folk hit a 48-yard field goal to cap a seven-play, 41-yard scoring drive that put the Cowboys up 10-3.

{QUOTE}After another stalled drive by the Texans' offense, Romo faked a handoff on second-and-one from the Texans' one-yard line and rolled to his right before firing a ball to tight end Tony Curtis. Linebacker Zac Diles stepped in front of the pass, though, and tapped two feet in the end zone to collect an interception with 14:15 left before halftime.

Schaub found his rhythm on the ensuing possession. He connected on two third down conversions and totaled 33 yards on three completions. Slaton picked up a first down into Dallas territory after a game-long 20-yard rush, and Schaub found wide receiver Kevin Walter for an 11-yard touchdown to finish the 12-play, 80-yard drive over 6:17.

Prior to the two-minute warning, Romo completed passes totaling 49 yards to four different receivers to help the Cowboys reach the Texans' one-yard line. On third down, running back Marion Barber III dove over a pile of linemen to score a touchdown, making the score 17-10 with 1:56 on the game clock.

Another Folk field goal, this time from 41 yards, gave the Cowboys a 20-10 halftime lead.

On the opening kickoff return of the second half, safety Brandon Harrison popped the ball loose from Stanback's grasp, and Ferguson recovered the fumble at the Dallas 35. Slaton picked up 13 yards to the nine-yard line, and Walter made a nine-yard reception to help set up Brown's 23-yard field goal attempt that made the score 20-13.

The Cowboys' offense continued to move the ball even with veteran Brad Johnson replacing Romo behind center. Rookie tight end Martellus Bennett's 29-yard catch put Dallas within scoring range. But the Texans forced their third turnover of the game when defensive end Mario Williams tackled running back Felix Jones in the backfield and hit the ball out. Rookie defensive tackle Frank Okam recovered the fumble on the Texans' six-yard line.

Under pressure in the end zone, Schaub came out firing with a 29-yard strike to Davis. On third-and-nine, Schaub hit Walter for a 23-yard completion to the Dallas 44 to keep the chains moving. After fullback Vonta Leach dropped an open catch in the flats, Brown nailed a 29-yard field goal to cut Dallas' lead to 20-16 with 14:20 left in the game.

Following Folk's 35-yard field goal that extended Dallas' lead to 23-16, the Texans' offense began its 10th drive from the Cowboys' 44-yard line thanks to Jones' 52-yard kickoff return. A 19-yard pass interference penalty and a seven-yard catch by Mark Simmons gave Houston a first down at the one-yard line. But Dallas challenged the catch, and the officials reversed their call.

On third-and-goal at the eight-yard line, Rosenfels dropped back two steps and rushed through the middle of the defense, soaring over the goal line for a touchdown.

After the failed two-point conversion, the Texans appeared to force their fourth turnover when defensive tackle Anthony Maddox sacked Johnson and forced a fumble at the Cowboys' 13-yard line. But the play was negated by cornerback Derrick Roberson's holding penalty, which allowed Dallas to run out the remainder of the game clock.

Injury News

  • Wide receiver André Davis got up gingerly after his opening kickoff return, but left the field under his own power.
  • Wide receiver Harry Williams injured his neck on the Cowboys' opening kickoff return and had to be carted off the field on a stretcher. He suffered a fracture of the C3 vertebra and will undergo surgery this weekend at a Dallas hospital.
  • Linebacker Zac Diles went to the locker room in the third quarter to get an IV.
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