Dallas hands Texans first preseason loss

DALLAS, TX At least when Romo and Terrell Owens played in the first half.

Romo made up for overthrowing T.O. on a certain touchdown and later getting intercepted in the end zone, completing 15 of 19 passes for 166 yards and a TD in the Cowboys' 23-22 victory over the Houston Texans on Friday night.

Houston backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels ran 8 yards for a touchdown with 2:05 left. Instead of a tying extra point, the Texans went for a 2-point conversion. But Jacoby Jones couldn't handle the pass in the end zone.

The Cowboys, considered Super Bowl contenders by many, had lost their first two preseason games. Romo and Co. were ineffective in two mistake-filled and penalty-plagued drives last week against Denver, after scoring on their only possession against San Diego.

Things went so good against the Texans that Romo and Owens, who had four catches for 43 yards, didn't play after halftime. Coach Wade Phillips had planned to play the starters deep into the third quarter, partly so the offense could get its timing down in the passing game.

"I thought we've been pretty efficient," Romo said at halftime. "It's exciting to come out in the first half and move the ball like we did."

Matt Schaub and the Texans' starters played into the opening minute of the fourth quarter, when Kris Brown kicked his third field goal, a 29-yarder that got the Texans within 20-16. Schaub was 15-of-27 passing for 166 yards with an 11-yard TD to Kevin Walter.

Walter's TD catch midway through the second quarter tied the game at 10, capping an 80-yard drive set up when Romo rolled to his right and slung a sidearm pass that linebacker Zac Diles picked off in the end zone.

In the first quarter, Nick Folk kicked a 48-yard field goal after Romo overthrew a streaking Owens, who was behind the defender and inside the 10 when the ball fell several yards into the end zone.

Dallas played its first game at Texas Stadium since losing to the New York Giants in the NFC divisional playoffs in January. That was a bitter ending to a 13-win season in which the Cowboys had an NFL-record 13 Pro Bowl players, and all of them are back.

Texans receiver Harry Williams was taken off the field on a stretcher with a neck injury after being hit in the head during a collision with teammate Nick Ferguson. They were covering on the ensuing kickoff after Brown kicked a 44-yard field goal to cap the first drive of the game.

Williams' head was immobilized when he was strapped to the stretcher and taken by ambulance to a hospital. Texans coach Gary Kubiak said after the game that the initial reports were good, but Williams would be hospitalized overnight.

"He's got movement throughout his body," Kubiak said. "All the feeback I'm getting is that Harry will be fine."

Williams was hurt trying to tackle Isaiah Stanback, who had a 44-yard return to midfield. The Cowboys scored seven plays later when Romo threw a 6-yard TD to Patrick Crayton.

Dallas scored twice in the final two minutes of the first half.

Marion Barber, now the clear No. 1 running back with Julius Jones' departure in free agency, leaped into the end zone for a 1-yard score. After the Texans punted with 34 seconds left, Romo scrambled for 13 yards, threw 32 yards to Sam Hurd and completed two short passes before Folk's 41-yard field goal made it 20-10.

Stanback returned the second-half kickoff 32 yards, but was stripped from behind, the fumble recovered by Ferguson. Stanback went to the locker room a few minutes later with a left shoulder injury.

Rookie running back Felix Jones, the Cowboys' top draft pick, fumbled inside the 10 on the Cowboys' first possession of the second half after Brad Johnson replaced Romo. The Texans drove 83 yards before Brown kicked a 29-yard field goal.

Still-suspended cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones made his first start for the Cowboys. He had one tackle, and gave up a 23-yard play to Walter, who reached over the shorter defender to make the catch.

Jones had an 18-yard punt return. The Cowboys expect to find out before making their final cuts next weekend if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will fully reinstate Jones from his yearlong suspension.

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