It was a battle between two teams not going to the playoffs this season and, well, it looked like it.
In the end, though, it was the Bills outlasting the Cowboys, 16-6, the Dallas offense again anemic and unable to score a touchdown with the team's defense not up to the task in the end as well, unable to stop Buffalo when it needed to most.
Next up in line to replace the injured Tony Romo was Kellen Moore, who was making his first career start in the NFL. And while he provided more of a downfield threat than Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel, the results were basically the same. Moore threw for only 186 passing yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Overall, Dallas finished with 307 yards of total offense, Darren McFadden coming just one yard shy of reaching 100 yards for the sixth time this season. On the other hand, Buffalo racked up 407 yards of total offense after coming into the game averaging 362.3 per contest.
Moore got the offense going early as he led the Cowboys to three points on the game's opening drive. He twice completed passes to move the chains on third down, including a 27-yard strike to Butler along the right sideline, to eventually set Dan Bailey up for a 45-yard field goal.
Dallas would give Bailey two more chances in the first half, the first a 50-yard kick into the wind that had the accuracy but came up just short. That was the Pro Bowl kicker's first miss from at least 50 yards this year, Bailey having gone 5-for-5 coming into this game.
But Bailey was good on his third try. That drive got a jumpstart when Lucky Whitehead returned a punt 28 yards to the Buffalo 44-yard line. Moore then guided the team down to the Bill's 4-yard line, but Dallas was unable to punch it in, settling for Bailey's 22-yard chip shot.
That three-pointer tied the score, as the Bills scored the first touchdown of the game after Bailey missed his 50-yarder. Set up with good field position, Buffalo needed only five plays to move the 60 yards into the end zone, running back Karlos Williams barreling in from 1 yard out. But Dan Carpenter missed the extra point, which allowed Dallas to tie it later.
And they went into the half tied when it appeared the Bills would take the lead. On third-and-1 at the Dallas 4-yard line with only eight seconds remaining in the second quarter, Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Tyler tried to find wide receiver Chris Hogan in the end zone. But rookie cornerback Deji Olatoye stepped in front of the poorly thrown ball for the interception, keeping the score knotted heading into the break.
The Cowboys couldn't carry that momentum over into the second half, though, as first they gave up a 10-play, 56-yard drive that resulted in a 32-yard field goal to put Buffalo back in the lead, 9-6. And then on Dallas' next drive, Moore threw a pass low and behind Butler, the receiver tipping the ball up and into the arms of Bills linebacker AJ Tarpley, setting up the home team at the Cowboys' 39-yard line.
But just three plays later, Buffalo returned the favor, as Church punched the ball loose from Williams with Brandon Carr scooping up the fumble.
However, that little bit of fireworks would basically be it for the Cowboys, as the team's offense just couldn't put any more points on the board. Following the turnover, Dallas moved into Bills territory, but facing fourth-and-8 at the Buffalo 44-yard line, elected to punt it away with 7:02 remaining.
And while the Bills started at their own 8-yard line, the Cowboys continued their season-long trend – unable to get a stop in the fourth quarter; unable to close out games. Buffalo proceeded to go on a 9-play, 92-yard drive, converting two third downs along the way, with running back Mike Gillislee darting around the right end for the 15-yard score to give Buffalo a 16-6 advantage.
When Whitehead then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Buffalo recovered the ball at Dallas 28-yard line, the game was officially done, the Bills electing to run out the clock instead of adding to the score.
With the loss, the Cowboys dropped to 4-11 on the year, at least providing a victory of sorts for those hoping for a higher draft pick. They'll next host the Redskins at AT&T Stadium in the season finale next week, Washington having already clinched the division title and a spot in the playoffs with a victory over the Eagles on Saturday night.