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Vandermeer's View: Tough One in Arlington

It had all the makings of an unforgettable day. Thousands of Battle Red clad Texans fans occupied AT&T Stadium as the Texans almost made the Cowboys home field their own. The noise was nearly deafening no matter who had the ball. The emotions were swinging, the tension palpable. But in the end it was a tough loss as the Texans fell 20-17 in overtime.

Don't look too closely at the yardage surrendered by your team. This was a stout defensive performance that was almost enough to win until Dez Bryant's amazing overtime catch set up the winning field goal.

It was Houston's offense that failed to get going until the game was on the line and the stars began to shine. Arian Foster erupted in the second half and DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson made huge catches on the way to tying the game at 17.

The best fans in the NFL represent in massive numbers at AT&T Stadium.

But the defense, which took the ball away twice (special teams had another forced fumble) ran out of big plays in overtime.

Bill O'Brien talks a lot about complementary football. And the fact that the Texans couldn't capitalize on the takeaways will undoubtedly be a subject of discussion in the meeting rooms.

Toward the end of the fourth quarter, after scoring to pull within seven, Houston got a big stop and an intentional grounding call. Keshawn Martin's punt return, followed by a 45 yard scoring drive was a great example of the three phases doing their thing in concert.

But the all-important phase of offense was out of sync in the first half, awakening in time to tie the game but coming up short on a critical third and two in overtime.

This is one of those games in which you dissect moment after moment and come up with a lot of near misses. Credit the Cowboys for the big throw in the extra session. That was the ultimate difference maker.

The Texans need to help themselves and play better offense earlier in games. Slow starts can't continue if they are going to reach their potential and produce a sustained run in the AFC South. And there's little time for corrections as a hot Indianapolis team, winners of three straight visits on Thursday night.

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