Texans 23, Cowboys 7: My Top 10 Observations

10. Cowboys' punter Mat McBriar kicked four times Saturday. He launched a 61-yarder in the third quarter, had a net average of 50.8 and pinned Houston inside the 20 twice. So much for the good news.

9. I understand this was a practice game. An exhibition. A glorified scrimmage. But it was also a dress rehearsal. If so, the play's gonna be an embarrassing flop. Wade Phillips actually tried to motivate his team by benching his starters for a play, but that was hideous. Vanilla ice cream never tasted so bitter.

8. You know it's bad when Roy Williams is the least of your problems. He had three catches for 39 yards.

7. This preseason Marion Barber (4 carries for -2 yards against Houston) and Felix Jones (3 for 6) have combined for 21 carries for 44 yards. I'm no math whiz, but that sucks.

6. Bad as it was/is, let's try not to overreact. Remember, the Cowboys were/are missing 2/5th of their starting offensive line. Feel better?

5. Going into the game quarterback Tony Romo scoffed at reporters who suggested Dallas needed to move the ball, score a touchdown and generally look ready. "I'm just looking for no mistakes," he countered. Even he and his inch-high bar must be pissy, because the Cowboys' first-team offense produced 0 points, three penalties, two turnovers, two muffed snaps, two sacks allowed and negative yardage on five of its 31 snaps.

4. Want some more feel-good spin-doctoring? Kicker David Buehler hasn't missed (or attempted) a field goal the last two games. He also, for what it's worth, made his last 11 in Oxnard before camp broke.

3. I guess the good news is that the Cowboys were so bad that now we may see the starters against the Miami Dolphins Thursday night in Arlington. Rookie receiver Dez Bryant, in fact, Tweeted "back in action Thursday" yesterday. It'll certainly be the most interesting preseason finale in a while.

2. I got into a little verbal skirmish with iconic Cowboys' voice Brad Sham on Saturday night's pregame show on 105.3 The Fan. I said the first-team offense didn't necessarily need to score two touchdowns, but needed to establish a positive vibe. He told me I was a panicky alarmist. Wait 'til he hears me on Thursday.

1. You can look at this two ways: "PANIC!" or "Preseason." "PANIC!" = the Cowboys' first-team offense has scored 13 points on 12 drives, and their lone touchdown was a whopping 8-yard drive set up when rookie safety Barry Church ran out of gas on a fumble return in San Diego. "Preseason" = The Cowboys have scored 48 points in four exhibition games. Last time they had such a feeble preseason was 1998, when they managed just 39 points in their first four and went 0-5. That team? Scored 38 points in the regular-season opener, finished 10-6 and won the NFC East.


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