Five sacks and four forced turnovers paved the way for a 20-14 Texans win at Dallas on a night where they had to rally from a touchdown deficit using all layers on the depth chart.
The game couldn't have started any better. Jacob Martin had a strip-sack that Charles Omenihu recovered as last week's takeaway train traveled well from Wisconsin to Arlington. The offense bludgeoned its way into the end zone with a Mark Ingram II touchdown run as Houston enjoyed a 7-0 lead.
The offense had trouble finding its footing on the next few series and Dallas eventually got rolling with two long TD drives capped by Cooper Rush TD passes.
Down 14-7 at the break, the Texans needed a spark and got one as they applied pressure in the backfield and tied the game on a Lonnie Johnson Jr. pick-six. Davis Mills eventually settled into a groove on the go-ahead field goal drive, going 3-4 and running 10 yards for a first down. David Culley doesn't want to see field goals instead of touchdowns, but this march started at the Houston 10-yard line and every point was precious and necessary if the Texans were going to carry out another one of his directives – win.
As with any preseason game, you're always left wondering what might have happened if both teams were at full strength, playing their frontline contributors the entire game. You don't get that, so the game plays out with virtually the entire roster. Give the Texans credit for coming back the way they did, with all phases starting to hit their stride in the second half.
The old adage of 'whoever learns the most and corrects it actually wins the (preseason) game' has to be taken into account. The Texans know they must be better on third down after going 0-10 in that crucial category.
Culley does preach consistency and he's getting it in a very key area. Lovie Smith's defense is causing problems in opposing backfields. Yes, it's 'only' preseason but the Texans have seven takeaways in two games after having nine in the entire regular season last year. They are also getting sacks at a good clip with five on the night against Dallas, including two by Omenihu.
There's a long way to go, but is there? One more preseason game and then here come the cuts. Bruce Arians said this week he'd play starters in Houston. There cannot be any better work than squaring off with the defending Super Bowl champs.