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5 Takes

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5 Takes: Believe it or not, the sky isn't falling


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Dallas Cowboys traveled to Highmark Stadium on Sunday evening and suffered a demoralizing loss at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, 31-3.

The Cowboys gave up a season-high 255 yards on the ground – the most allowed by the franchise since 2012 – and had its worst day offensively all season.

There was a lot to take away from the big defeat. Here are the 5 Takes, presented by Take 5 Oil Change.

1. Believe it or not, the sky isn't falling.

By all accounts, that was a humiliating loss for the Dallas Cowboys at the hands of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday evening. The offense built zero consistency, the trenches were thrashed on both sides and injuries mounted from the very first quarter. Just getting the game to its end felt like the biggest accomplishment from Dallas. However, this game doesn't take Dallas out of the playoffs. It doesn't write the team's end. It only serves as a severe notch in the Cowboys' armor, and it will take all three weeks left in the regular season to fix the issues that were highlighted.

2. No Johnathan Hankins creates a rushing field day for opponents.

Let me start by saying that if Hankins was playing on Sunday afternoon, I still think James Cook runs for more than 100 yards. He was simply built for a career day with his field vision and the game plan from Buffalo to lean on him in the rainy conditions. Seeing Cook build confidence by attacking the A-gap early and often allowed for a rushing field day in other areas that had to crash and help. Here's to the hope that Johnathan Hankins can heal up in the next week and return for Christmas Eve.

3. There will need to be a quick fix to the run defense issues before Miami.

Even if the Cowboys can bring back Johnathan Hankins for next Sunday's game against Miami, the running lanes that were created outside the tackles saw James Cook get most of his production on Sunday evening which means there will need to be a lot of correction before seeing the two-headed monster of Raheem Mostert and Devon Achane. Cook found running lanes just about anywhere he looked, and the Cowboys will see two weapons next week that have just as good of field vision paired with elite speed.

4. The concerns about Dallas not being able to win big games on the road are more than legitimate.

Since Mike McCarthy's arrival in 2020, you can really only point to two big road wins: 2022's win in Minnesota and 2021's win in New England. Other than that, it's hard to find a lot of confidence in going on the road and expecting a big road win. Even this season, the Cowboys are 0-3 in road tests in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Buffalo. Another test awaits in Miami next week, but would even a win give anyone confidence going into what is becoming an almost certain road playoff game?

5. A lot is weighing on Zack Martin's left quad.

When Zack Martin left the game after taking a knee to his left quad in the first quarter, there was a noticeable difference in the protection gameplan and it threw the entire offense out of sorts. Even though T.J. Bass played well in his replacement, there wasn't a lot of trust in the protection and it flustered the running game and Dak Prescott. Add in the on-field leadership and help he adds pre-snap, and Zack Martin's return becomes as valuable as possible going into the final stretch of the season.

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