Arlington, TX (CBS HOUSTON) – The Houston Texans couldn’t close out their preseason with a win, falling 21-14 to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. They also couldn’t get out of the final preseason game without injury. Third-string quarterback Tom Savage left the game late in the fourth quarter after a hard hit injured his right arm or shoulder.
“I don’t know, I just got off the field,” said Bill O’Brien when asked about his quarterback’s status. “I’m not a doctor. I have no idea. I’ll know better probably at some point tomorrow.”
“You don’t want to see your leader like that,” said running back Chris Polk. “It’s like the president. You’ve got to take that bullet for a president . . . I don’t want a quarterback to go down like that. Never. Ever.”
Savage was to play the entire game for the Texans to keep starter Brian Hoyer and second-string Ryan Mallett healthy. In the end, Mallett had to take the field with just over two minutes left in the game and the Texans trailing. He didn’t do much, but did throw two incompletions before a three and out effectively ended the game.
The first half was slow, with back and fourth stalls by both the Texans and Cowboys. The Texans finally got on the board with just :23 seconds left in the half as Savage found running back Chris Polk open in the flat and Polk turned it into a 16-yard touchdown for the 7-0 lead.
“I turned around so fast and it was just wide open,” said Polk. “That was by far the easiest touchdown I’ve ever had. Without Tommy, that’s not happening, so shout out to Tom.”
The second half started with teams trading punts, but a punt by Cowboys Chris Jones inside the 5-yard line pinned the Texans deep. On the first play Savage was picked off at the 2-yard line by Corey White. White walked the interception into the end zone to tie the game.
On the next possession Savage again turned the ball over, this time on a fumble. A hit from Ryan Russell caused the ball to come loose where it was picked up by Kevin Smith. The play was originally called an incomplete pass, but a challenge by the Cowboys saw it overturned. The Cowboys wasted no time, scoring on their first play from scrimmage with a 21-yard run from Gus Johnson to take the 14-7 lead.
The game slowed down again until a muffed punt by Lucky Whitehead was recovered by the Texans. Tom Savage then found Keshawn Martin in the back of the end zone for a leaping touchdown grab to tie the game at 14-14.
“It was a good ball by Tom [Savage],” said Martin. “It was a really good operation by the offense. I ran the corner route and saw the ball as soon as I turned around. The defender, he was all over me but he didn’t really have a chance because it happened so quick. It was just a great ball.”
The Cowboys got the lead back the series after knocking out Savage. A 5-yard run by Ben Malena sealed the win for the Cowboys, ending an eight-game preseason losing streak for the Texans in-state rival.
On defense, Texans Justin Tuggle led the way with nine tackles to try and cement his name on the 53-man roster. Tuggle seemed pretty confident that he’d be there come Saturday at 3 PM.
“No nerves,” said Tuggle after the game. “I felt prepared. I felt like I had a good camp throughout the last month. So I’m banking on that, and I’m feeling good.”
The Texans must have their final 53 players active on their roster by Saturday at 3 p.m. They begin the regular season next Sunday at NRG Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We’ve got to have a great week of practice,” said O’Brien. “We have a very, very difficult Kansas City team coming in here. It’s a home game, which is good: having our fans behind us. We’re all looking forward to getting out there and playing.”