The Dallas Cowboys continued to struggle on offense in preseason action against the Houston Texans on Saturday. Three Ben DiNucci interceptions and a 13-0 second-half score differential sealed the 20-14 win for the visiting Texans. Dallas has lost three preseason games this season but has not put any of the team’s true starters on the field.
For the third week, Garett Gilbert got the start as Dak Prescott continues to rest a shoulder sprain suffered in training camp. Gilbert got off to a rough start, losing the football on a sack on the third play of the game. The offensive line struggled throughout the game. The Texans recorded five sacks and 10 tackles for loss on the night.
Two of the three interceptions thrown by DiNucci came off deflections and one was returned 53 yards for a touchdown that gave Houston the lead. DiNucci rarely had time to allow plays to develop before scrambling to evade Houston defenders, forcing his throws to be off-target. Of the three quarterbacks to play for the Cowboys on Saturday, Cooper Rush had the best showing.
Rush took the majority of snaps during the game, coming in to replace Gilbert after two uninspiring drives. Rush guided the offense downfield and scored two touchdowns to give the Cowboys a lead that they held until the third quarter. Rush ended his night going 10 for 12 and 97 yards with two TDs and no interceptions.
Gilbert has all been locked in to back up Prescott this season, but he continues to turn in subpar performances during preseason games. Gilbert was 3 of 5 for 30 yards in his two series. The opening drive fumble was followed by a 7-play drive that stalled after an incomplete pass and back-to-back run on Dallas Running Back Tony Pollard.
Amari Cooper got in on the game for a few plays. He was targeted once by DiNucci and drew a defensive pass interference penalty that gave the Cowboys a fresh set of downs. Cooper attempted a running play on the drive that went for -4 yards.
Newly signed Kicker Lirim Hajrullahu was perfect on the night, hitting both extra points. Hajrullahu was brought in this week after punter-turned-Placekicker Hunter Niswander was released and placed on injured reserve. The Cowboys still expect Greg Zuerlein to start at placekicker once the season is underway. Zuerlein is rehabbing a back injury. Expectations are that Hajrullahu will be released when the team cuts the roster to 53 after next week’s preseason game against Jacksonville on Sunday, August 29.
Final roster cuts will happen before 4 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, August 31. The Cowboys open the season on the road against the Super Bowl LV champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys will start the season with several key players receiving little to no reps in the preseason.