HOUSTON (AP)The Houston Texans did a lot of good things Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

However, they came up short late with a chance to seal the victory as their skid extended to eight games with a 27-23 loss.

The Texans had a three-point lead when Tremon Smith got his second interception of the game to give them the ball at the Dallas 4 with less than six minutes to go.

With rookie Dameon Pierce out with an ankle injury, Rex Burkhead was stopped for a 1-yard loss on first down. Jeff Driskel, who split time at quarterback with Davis Mills, threw a 4-yard pass to Chris Moore get Houston to the 1 on second down.

But Burkhead lost 2 yards on a run on third down before Driskel was stopped short of the goal line on fourth down to give Dallas the ball back.

”We just didn’t execute,” coach Lovie Smith said. ”We just didn’t execute the way we needed to.”

Dak Prescott then led a 98-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard TD run by Ezekiel Elliott to give Dallas the win.

Though the Texans couldn’t finish Sunday, Smith was encouraged by improvement he saw from his team.

”There’s a different feeling,” he said. ”I thought we got better (Sunday). I saw progress for sure.”

After starting Kyle Allen at quarterback in the previous two games, the Texans returned to Davis Mills on Sunday. But they mixed things up by also using Driskel, who hadn’t appeared in a game since September.

Mills threw for 175 yards and Driskel had 38 yards passing with a touchdown and 36 yards rushing.

”I was excited to get out there and help the team win and obviously it was not what we wanted to do at the end of the game,” Driskel said. ”We’ve just got to execute a few more times and punch the ball in the end zone. But it was good to get back in the game.”

WHAT’S WORKING

The Texans forced three turnovers Sunday to help them almost pull off the upset. Tremon Smith had two interceptions and the Texans recovered a fumble on a punt return.

”We have to continue that,” Lovie Smith said. ”Offenses are so good you need to be able to steal a couple. It’s a must. We say it’s a good football game for us if we can get three takeaways.”

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Houston’s offense did better against the Cowboys that it had in the previous two games when Allen committed five turnovers combined.

But Mills and Driskel will have to do more to keep the passing game going and finish drives this week, especially if Pierce’s injury keeps him out.

Smith wouldn’t say if they plan to use both quarterbacks again this week, but said he liked how the two worked in leading the offense.

”I thought it was effective yesterday,” Smith said. ”Two different flavors and that’s always tough for a defense to deal with.”

STOCK UP

Moore had career highs with 10 catches for 124 yards Sunday after combining for just 73 yards receiving in his previous three games.

STOCK DOWN

Burkhead struggled late filling in for Pierce. He lost 3 yards on two carries on the drive where Houston could have padded the lead late.

INJURIES

Smith said he didn’t have an update on Pierce’s injury, but added that ”it would take a lot” for him to sit out Sunday. … CB Steven Nelson injured an ankle Sunday. … WR Jalen Camp has an oblique injury. … WR Brandin Cooks could return Sunday after missing two games with a calf injury. … CB Derek Stingley Jr. is still recovering from a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the past four games.

KEY NUMBER

47% The Texans converted 47% of third down attempts Sunday a week after they converted just 1 of 12 in a loss to the Browns.

NEXT STEPS

The Texans will have to find a way to finish Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs if they hope to avoid losing nine straight games for the first time since dropping the final 14 games of the 2013 season.

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