NFL preseason roundup
Cowboys 34, Texans 0
Deshaun Watson didn't get the longer preseason look he wanted against Dallas.
Houston couldn't get their quarterback off the field fast enough, especially after running back Lamar Miller sustained what coach Bill O'Brien called a serious knee injury on the second play.
Watson didn't return for a second series after getting dropped twice in three plays. The first play wasn't a sack because of defensive holding, the second was and resulted in a fumble , the first of four Houston turnovers in an exhibition loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night.
Miller was carted off after defensive tackle Maliek Collins slammed into his left leg at the line of scrimmage in what figures to be Miller's only carry of the preseason. The eighth-year back didn't play in the first two exhibitions.
"It's very tough," Watson said. "You have a guy that's so special to our team. Anybody that gets hurt, it's tough. But he's one of the guys that has a lot of energy and a lot of power for this team. It's tough to see him go off in the cart."
Dak Prescott scrambled and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup while playing the first two series for Dallas. Prescott was 2 of 5 for 22 yards, the three incompletions his first of the preseason.
"I'm just excited for where we're going to go," Prescott said. "This team is coming together, this team is strong, this team is excited. A lot of youth, a lot of energy."
Tony Pollard, the starting running back with Ezekiel Elliott holding out, stayed an extra series, when the rookie had a 20-yard run to finish with 26 yards on six carries. Alfred Morris, the primary replacement during Elliott's six-game suspension two years ago, had a 1-yard TD run.
Pollard nearly reached the end zone by running 24 yards on a screen, but it was negated by an illegal block penalty on Jason Witten. The tight end, poised to set the Dallas record with a 16th season, was playing at home for the first time since coming out of retirement after a year in broadcasting.
Taco Charlton had both the hits on Watson, causing and recovering a fumble on the sack that counted to set up Gallup's touchdown. Charlton got a second sack against Joe Webb III and forced another fumble. Kerry Hyder also had two of the Cowboys' eight sacks.
Charlton, a 2017 first-round pick, went to training camp with his roster spot in jeopardy, but has been particularly strong in the past two preseason games.
"He's just gotten better and better and better right before your eyes and my eyes as well," owner Jerry Jones said. "He's really getting rewarded and I'm proud of him because he's had to really work to get to this point."
The night got worse for Houston's offensive line when versatile starter Zach Fulton was carted off in the first half. Last year's right guard has also played center and left guard in previous seasons.
Joe Thomas blocked a punt for Dallas, kicked the ball toward the goal line while trying to pick it up and ultimately recovered it in the end zone for a 14-0 lead. He almost had an interception return for a touchdown on a pass from Webb that went through his outstretched hands.
Watson was hoping for more than the single series he got in last week's 30-23 win over Detroit. His only other appearance was productive, though. Watson was 5 of 7 for 60 yards with a 4-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins. Since he couldn't get a pass off in two dropbacks against the Cowboys, those will be his preseason numbers. The opener is Sept. 9 at New Orleans.
"Even if we went out and the starters played a half and put up 34 points, I still don't believe that we'd be ready," Watson said. "There's always ways to get better all the way to kickoff of the Saints game."
Dallas kicker Brett Maher had his best night in what's been a shaky preseason. Last year's surprise replacement for Dan Bailey made field goals of 36 and 23 yards and all four extra points.
If Miller is out for an extended period, the focus will turn to Duke Johnson, acquired from Cleveland in a trade this month. Johnson hasn't played for the Texans yet. The other two backs who got carries against the Cowboys are undrafted rookies: Karan Higdon Jr. (13 carries for 28 yards) and Damarea Crockett (three for 27).
Bears 27, Colts 17
Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck's first coach, returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since his firing shortly after the 2017 season.
The new Bears defensive coordinator made a splash.
Despite both teams sitting all of their starters including Jacoby Brissett, the Bears used their second defensive touchdown to take the lead for good late in the third quarter.
Trailing 10-0 early in the second quarter, safety Deon Bush ripped the ball out of the air from rookie tight end Hale Hentges got up and scored on a 91-yard interception return. After two field goals from Eddy Pineiro made it 17-13, linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe returned a fumble 22 yards to give the Bears a 20-17 lead.
Chicago closed out the scoring with a 17-yard TD pass from Tyler Bray to Jesper Horsted.
Bray was 11 of 16 with 136 yards and Ryan Nall had two carries for 73 yards.
Chad Kelly led the Colts to all three of their scores and was 16 of 21 with 209 yards and one touchdown — all in the first half. Deon Cain caught three passes for 74 yards, including a 46-yard TD catch.
After the game, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement.
49ers 27, Chiefs 17
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was impressive in his return to Arrowhead Stadium, and Chiefs counterpart Patrick Mahomes may have been even better, as the 49ers beat Kansas City.
Garoppolo was 14 of 20 for 188 yards while playing the entire first half in a much better showing than his preseason debut against Denver last week. Garoppolo led the 49ers deep into Kansas City territory four times, throwing a nice TD pass to Matt Breida and getting two field goals from Robbie Gould.
It was an encouraging night for Garoppolo on another front: He was able to put to rest any lingering memories from last season, when he tore up his knee during a Week 3 game in Kansas City.
Mahomes finished 8 of 10 for 126 yards, highlighted by a 62-yard catch-and-run to Damien Williams in which the Chiefs' injury-prone running back raced right by the woebegone linebacker covering him.
Vikings 20, Cardinals 9
Dalvin Cook had an 85-yard touchdown run for Minnesota, the highlight of an otherwise rough first half by the first-team offense in a preseason win over Arizona.
Cook scored early and Mike Boone crossed the goal line late, as the Vikings totaled 190 yards on 29 carries. The ground game was by far the best development of an afternoon when Kirk Cousins went just 3 for 13 for 35 yards while taking two sacks and Kaare Vedvik missed field goals from 43 and 54 yards.
Rookie Kyler Murray, the first overall pick in the draft to whom new coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals have turned to lead the reconstruction project, was relatively sharp while going 14 for 21 for 137 yards over the five possessions against a Vikings defense that was almost at full strength. Three of the drives ended with a successful field goal by Zane Gonzalez, a result that surely made the Vikings envious.
Vedvik, who has been given an extended evaluation as both a kicker and a punter, made both of his extra point attempts, at least, while incumbent Dan Bailey took the afternoon off. Matt Wile punted six times for an average of 47.3 yards, leaving no more clarity about the specialists than when the month began.
Rams 10, Broncos 6
Brandon Allen passed for 162 yards, and Jalen Greene caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from John Wolford with 12:38 to play in Los Angeles' preseason victory over Denver.
Both coaches sat nearly all of their starters for the final NFL preseason game at the 96-year-old Coliseum, and neither team managed a touchdown before Wolford led a 52-yard drive spanning the final two quarters and capped it with a sharp pass to Greene.
Wolford, who went 6 of 12 for 64 yards, is competing for the Rams' No. 3 quarterback spot with Allen, who had the job last season. Allen went 12 of 19 and mostly looked sharp while Jared Goff and backup Blake Bortles watched from the sideline.
Almost every Rams player expected to make a significant contribution this season skipped this game in keeping with coach Sean McVay's total disinterest in risking his starters' health for meaningless exhibitions. McVay also followed the strategy last August, and the Rams matched the NFL's best regular-season record at 13-3 before reaching their first Super Bowl in 17 years.
Seahawks 23, Chargers 15
Russell Wilson directed a pair of first-half touchdown drives, going 6 of 9 for 73 yards, and Seattle beat Los Angeles in the preseason matchup.
Wilson has directed the Seahawks to a pair of TDs and a field goal in five possessions in two preseason games.
Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise scored rushing TDs for the Seahawks (2-1).
Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen did not suit up for a third straight game, with Chargers coach Anthony Lynn sticking to his pre-training camp plan of resting his veterans. With Melvin Gordon continuing to hold out, the running game struggled as Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson combined for 23 yards on nine carries.
Tyrod Taylor was on the run most of the time, finishing 6 of 9 for 61 yards in three possessions. Taylor also was the Chargers' leading rusher with 34 yards on six carries.
Easton Stick led the Chargers (0-3) to a pair of scores in the fourth quarter.
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