Houston Texans beat Dallas Cowboys as Case Keenum, T.J. Yates shine

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Case Keenum and T.J. Yates did their jobs Thursday night. Now it's time for Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak to do his, and pick a backup to quarterback Matt Schaub.

Keenum and Yates each threw a touchdown pass and efficiently led a pair of scoring drives, Cierre Wood and Dennis Johnson combined for 187 yards rushing and the Texans beat the Dallas Cowboys 24-6 in a preseason finale.

"We both sat down at the beginning and said, 'Let's make this as hard as possible on Kube,'" said Yates, drawing laughter before adding "just joking." No, we both played really well again."

Alex Tanney might have made life a little easier for Dallas coaches who have to decide whether to keep a third quarterback behind Tony Romo and Kyle Orton.

The second-year player from tiny Monmouth College was sacked seven times and finished 17 of 31 for 177 yards with an interception. He had a chance for a late touchdown drive before three sacks in a span of seven plays forced the Cowboys to settle for their second field goal.

"You have to assess how he responds to that," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of the pressure Tanney faced. "That's part of playing this position. It looked like he kept his composure, moved around, kept his eyes up the field, but just didn't get into much of a rhythm throughout the football game."

Keenum directed touchdown drives of 87 and 80 yards, the latter capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass to Lestar Jean. Yates, the backup to Matt Schaub the past two seasons, threw a 21-yard scoring pass to Andy Cruse and led another drive to a field goal.

The pair probably made at least one decision for Kubiak -- whether to keep three quarterbacks.

"I have to do that in the morning, but dang good chance," Kubiak said. "The two guys played like that, I don't think we expose them to anybody else."

Keenum mostly handed off on an 87-yard scoring drive in the first quarter -- highlighted by a 29-yard run from Johnson, who went the final 5 yards for the score.

After the Cowboys slowed the run, Keenum beat them with the pass, completing 4 of 5 for 71 yards on an 80-yard drive to the second touchdown directed by the former University of Houston star. He spent last season on the practice squad after leaving UH as the NCAA's all-time leading passer.

Keenum's scoring toss to Jean came after linebacker DeVonte Holloman was called for holding on fourth-and-1 when he grabbed Johnson as he was running past him in the flat.

"I go out every time and try to do my absolute best," Keenum said when asked if he had done everything he could in his backup bid. "Sometimes I don't do my best, but I go out every time trying to be the absolute best quarterback I can be on that day."

Yates converted three third-down passes on his touchdown drive, starting with a 13-yard screen to Wood on third-and-10. The score to Cruse came on third-and-3.

"Me and Case both played some great football throughout this entire preseason, and it's going to be a hard decision for him," said Yates, who got Houston's first-ever playoff win when Schaub was hurt in 2011. "But that's up to him."

Besides the seven sacks, Tanney was knocked to the ground several times, although he bounced back to get the Cowboys in position for a late touchdown before the three sacks.

Tanney almost had a nifty touchdown pass to rookie tight end Gavin Escobar, who couldn't get a second foot down in the corner of the end zone.

"I caught it and looked down to keep my feet in, and I was hoping he couldn't see it," said Escobar, a second-round draft pick. "I could tell my right foot was a little bit out."

The second-team defense for Dallas has been pushed around all preseason. Wood had 78 of Houston's 120 first-quarter yards rushing, and he would have had more than 100 without a holding penalty that nullified a 49-yard scoring run.

Wood had a 5.6-yard average that would have been higher without two penalties, and Johnson averaged 4.6 per carry. They were the only two running backs to get the ball as the Texans try to decide where they fit behind Arian Foster, with Ben Tate and Deji Karim also in the mix.

"I was just trying to show everybody what I can do," Wood said. "The last couple of games, I didn't get to show that much."

The Cowboys didn't really get a chance to settle the battle for their backup running back because Lance Dunbar missed his second straight game with a sprained foot. Phillip Tanner had 35 yards on six straight carries to start the game, but didn't return after the first series. Joseph Randle finished 47 yards on 10 carries.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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