Cowboys-Texans Super Bowl Still A Remote Possibility

Sunday was a terrific day for the Lone Star State’s two National Football League franchises. Both the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys came up with impressive victories.

The Texans found out early last week they would be without the services of their starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was recovering from a concussion he suffered a last Monday night at Cincinnati.

Hoyer was replaced in that game by T. J. Yates who had returned the team only a couple of weeks ago. Yates made the most of his good fortune and threw the touchdown pass that made Houston a 10-6 upset winner over the previously-undefeated Bengals.

Yates spent all of last week studying the Texans’ playbook, cramming as much information as he possibly could for the upcoming game against the New York Jets—the NFL’s best defensive team—Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Not only did Yates have another outstanding performance against the Jets—he threw for 229 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions—but he led his team to another upset victory, beating the four-point-favored Jets 24-17 and keeping Houston in a  first place tie in the AFC South Division with Indianapolis, both sporting 5-5 records.

The Indy Colts overcame two 14-point deficits to win 24-21 over Atlanta on a last-minute field goal by veteran kicker Adam Vinateri.

Houston’s third-straight victory was aided by another rock-ribbed performance by the defense plus a gadget-play touchdown where Yates tossed a lateral to wide receiver Cecil Shorts—who played some quarterback in college—who found a wide open Alfred Blue near the goal line and hit him on a 21-yard pass for the touchdown that snapped a 10-10 third-quarter tie.

As usual, the defense was led by J.J. Watt who had eight unassisted tackles including five for a loss, sacked Jets quarterback and former teammate Ryan Fitzpatrick twice, bring his total for this season to 11½, and hit him five times.

It was somewhat of a joyous day for the Cowboys as starting quarterback Tony Romo returned after missing seven games—all losses—from a fractured collarbone to lead his team to a 24-14 victory over the Dolphins in Miami.

Dallas is 3-0 this season with Romo at quarterback and 0-7 with him out with an injury and technically since Week 2 of 2014, the Cowboys are 16-3 when he starts and 0-8 when he doesn’t.

All but one of this season’s seven consecutive losses—a 30-6 setback by still-undefeated New England—were by a touchdown or less which the Cowboys actually had the lead in the fourth period.

It was the longest losing streak in a single season since 1989 when Jerry Jones bought the team and replaced Tom Landry as coach with Jimmy Johnson. Troy Aikman was a rookie quarterback and the team went 1-15.

Because of so many three-and-outs in the fourth period, the Cowboys’ defense just got worn out by being on the field most of the time. Two of those losses came in an overtime period.

In a game that began in a downpour with gusty winds but ended in the Florida sunshine, Romo looked a little rusty but got more confident as the game rolled on. He completed 18-of-28 passes for 227 yards but had two picked off.

Romo connected with his favorite receiver Dez Bryant on a 16-yard touchdown toss and also found Terrance Williams on a 31-yard scoring pass. “I got more comfortable as the game went on,” Romo told the Associated Press after the game.

The Cowboys took advantage of the Dolphins inability to stop the run by rushing for 166 yards on 38 carries and led Miami in time of possession 38:50 to 21:10. Darren McFadden provided the offensive balance by rushing for 129 yards on 29 carries.

However the victory upped the Cowboys’ season mark to 3-7 which still ranks as tied for the worst record in the NFC along with Detroit and San Francisco.

But the Cowboys are only two games out of first place in the NFC East Division, which is led by the New York Giants (5-5), who had a bye last week.

And their reward for snapping their losing streak is a game against the undefeated 10-0 Carolina Panthers tomorrow (Thanksgiving) before a nationally televised audience. The boys in Las Vegas must have been VERY impressed with the Cowboys’ victory Sunday because they have made Dallas a 1½-point early favorite for the Thanksgiving Day game.

The Houston Texans will face the NFL’s worst defensive team Sunday when they host the New Orleans Saints at NRG Stadium and are favored by a field goal.

I wonder what the Las Vegas odds might be for a Dallas Cowboys-Houston Texans match-up for Super Bowl 50???

KWICKIES…The Men’s Golf Association of Sunset Grove Country Club met Saturday and elected officers for 2016. The new President will be Mark Magnuson, Mike Hughes was re-elected vice-president, Kenny Ruane was re-elected secretary, yours truly was re-elected treasurer and Bob Hoepner was re-elected membership chairman. The MGA meets on the third Saturday of each month with breakfast at 8 a.m. which is followed by a tournament, the format of which is decided by Club Pro Kerry Lamb. Golfers interested in joining for 2016 can contact Hoepner, any club officer or Lamb in the pro shop.

Only one team from Orange County and three others in Southeast Texas remain in this week’s  Regional semifinal round of the state football playoffs this week. The West Orange-Stark Mustangs (11-1) meet Caldwell (8-4) at 7 p.m. Friday in New Caney, Silsbee (10-2) plays El Campo (9-3) Friday in Conroe, Newton (8-4) meets Franklin (12-0) Friday in Henderson and Beaumont Legacy Christian (10-2) takes on Shiner St. Paul (12-0).

The combination of the nation’s No. 2 defense and the lack of a run defense by Lamar Saturday night enabled my McNeese Cowboys to finish the regular season with a perfect 11-0 record and 10-0 in the Southland Conference after edging past the Cardinals 20-14 in the traditional season’s finale. The Cowboys rolled up 443 yards of offense—with a majority of that total via rushing—while holding the Redbirds to 176 yards. Lamar’s Kade Harrington, who leads the nation (FCS) with a per-game average of 202.2 yards rushing, was held to 77 yards on 17 carries by the Pokes’ defense.  This marked the fifth undefeated season in school history for the Cowboys, who have an automatic bid into the FCS Tournament which begins this week.

And speaking of the McNeese State Cowboys, who are the ONLY undefeated team in this year’s 24-team FCS Tournament and are the No. 4 seed, have a first-round bye. The Pokes will host Saturday’s 2 p.m. first-round winner between Sam Houston State and Southern Utah on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. in Lake Charles.

Over-rated Ohio State finally got knocked down a few pegs to where they really have belonged all season, losing to Michigan State 17-14. In this week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll Clemson retains the No. 1 spot, with Alabama moving up one place to No. 2, Iowa shot up three slots to No. 3, Notre Dame came up one spot to No. 4, Oklahoma moved up one place to No. 5. The second five are just as mixed up from last week with Michigan State up from ninth to No. 6, Baylor surged three places to No. 7, Ohio State sunk from second to No. 8, Oklahoma State dropped five places to No. 9 and Florida dropped two spots to No. 10. TCU dropped four places to No. 15 and Houston went from No. 13 to No. 21.

It appears Deweyville will be the only local school that will be affected by the University Interscholastic League’s re-alignment that officially takes place on February 1. But in their announcement last week, the UIL will have the Pirates moving from Class 3A down to Class 2A. Beaumont Ozen is slated to move from 5A to Class 4A and Port Arthur Memorial will drop from 6A to Class 5A.

It’s kind of ironic that the Houston Texans used the same play to help defeat the New York Jets Sunday that led to the end of the University of Houston’s undefeated season. The quarterback laterals to a wide receiver who throws a pass to a wide open teammate near the goal line. The University of Connecticut used that play Saturday to come from behind and beat the Cougars 20-17.

JUST BETWEEN US…It really blows my mind to read about the West Orange-Stark Mustang football team in the Jefferson County daily newspaper that has followed the team for two 10-game regular seasons and two deep trips into the state playoffs and still doesn’t know the correct classification of starting junior quarterback Jack Dallas. This is the same newspaper that had East Chambers as the best football team in Southeast Texas every week until the final game of the regular season when the Buccaneers got crushed by Kirbyville in the game for the district championship and then was ousted from the playoffs last week in the area round. Those sportswriters must either be lazy, careless or stupid or all three. Fifty years ago when I was doing their job, if I did it like they do, I’d be swabbing out the bathrooms the next week.