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Game Recap: Cowboys fall in Buffalo, 31-10


And the questions continue. After reeling off a five-game winning streak that included a dominating victory over rival Philadelphia at home the week before, the Dallas Cowboys were looking to take a next step of sorts by winning a big battle on the road.

Instead, it would be the Cowboys who would be dominated this time around as the Buffalo Bills manhandled the NFC hopefuls in a 31-10 dismantling.

There was concern coming into the matchup about whether the Cowboys could stop Buffalo's ground attack, as the defense was without hefty run-stopper Johnathan Hankins. Simply put, they couldn't.

Led by James Cook, who posted career highs in rushing yards (179), yards from scrimmage (221) and touchdowns (2), the Bills churned out 266 yards on the ground. That led to them ruling the time of possession, 35:05 to 24:55, while totaling 351 yards of offense.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo defense was just as unwelcoming as it bullied the Cowboys' efforts. Facing heavy pressure throughout the day and a secondary that largely stifled Dallas' receivers, Prescott's hot streak came to a cold end. He completed 21 of his 34 attempts for only 134 yards passing with one interception, a meager quarterback rating of 57.7.

Consequently, the NFL's best offense coming into the weekend had only 92 total yards through three quarters and was held to a 195 yards overall.

First Quarter

The Bills made it clear right from the start that this wasn't going to be easy, grinding out 75 yards in 12 plays on their opening possession while taking nearly seven minutes off the clock. The biggest gain was an 18-yard pass to Stephon Diggs, but Buffalo also got help when DeMarcus Lawrence was called for roughing the passer on a third-and-4 incompletion, keeping the drive alive. Two snaps later, Latavius Murray pushed the pile the final 2 yards for the touchdown.

Things went from bad to worse, though, on the Cowboys' second drive when perennial Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin, who had stood up for his quarterback on the previous series after a questionable hit, left the game with a quad injury. Prescott was already facing steady pressure, an issue that would become a bigger problem.

Second Quarter

Buffalo's third drive of the game again got some help from the Cowboys. With the Bills punting on fourth-and-8 at their own 26-yard line, Sam Williams broke through the line and leaped to try to block the punt. Instead, he missed and in turn ran into punter Sam Martin for a 15-yard penalty.

Given the free first down, the Bills dug the hole a little deeper. Buffalo finished up the first quarter with a 24-yard run by Cook before continuing its trek in the second frame all the way to the goal line, the drive taking 11 plays to go 86 yards. The score came when quarterback Josh Allen rolled to his right before hitting Cook in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass.

The Cowboys weren't about to back down yet, however, and came out with some punishment of their own. Prescott threw a honey of a 16-yard pass to CeeDee Lamb along the left sideline to move the chains on third-and-4, which was then followed by some power running from Rico Dowdle and Tony Pollard. And while the drive stalled at the Buffalo 14-yard line, out came rookie Brandon Aubrey to split the uprights on a 32-yard field goal to get Dallas on the board.

But the Bills would come right back and add to their point total. And this time they got a little aid from the officials. Although Diggs hauled in a pass from Allen and dove for the first down, replays showed that Cowboys linebacker Markquese Bell clearly punched the ball free with safety Donovan Wilson recovering the fumble. But the refs missed it and Buffalo quickly got off its next play before Dallas could throw the challenge flag.

And for a third time, the Bills took advantage of the extra help, eventually finishing their 11-play drive in the end zone to up their lead to 21-3 at the half. Cook reeled off a 20-yard run to the Dallas 1-yard line with Allen then taking it himself off left guard for the touchdown.

At the break, Dallas had totaled only 89 yards of offense on 26 plays while Cook alone had earned 146 yards of scrimmage on 17 touches for Buffalo. Unsurprisingly, the Cowboys were facing their largest deficit at the half in three years.

Third Quarter

Although desperately needing to find an offensive spark with the first possession of the second half, the Cowboys were unable get beyond their own 39-yard line, forced to punt. And when Buffalo then came back to kick a 23-yard field goal after a 15-play, 65-yard drive that chewed 8:22 off the clock, the game was essentially over.

Fourth Quarter

So why not add a little rain to this dismal affair. After Buffalo tacked on more points when, who else, Cook fought his way up the middle for a 24-yard touchdown, the Cowboys finally crossed the goal line themselves. The 15-play, 80-yard march ended once Lamb took the handoff around right end for a 3-yard score. That at least extended his current touchdown streak to six straight games.

Of course, it was far too little too late, the game coming to a merciful end soon thereafter.

With the loss, pending the result of the Eagles' game at the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, the Cowboys hopes of winning the NFC East became that much more difficult. And they'll face another tough road matchup next Sunday as they'll travel to Miami to take on the AFC East-leading Dolphins.

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