Cowboys fall at Buffalo, 31-10

And the questions continue. After snapping a five-game winning streak that included a dominating win over rival Philadelphia at home the previous week, the Dallas Cowboys were looking to take the next step by winning a big battle on the road.

Instead, the Cowboys would be dominated this time as the Buffalo Bills ran roughshod over NFC hopefuls in a 31-10 rout.

There was concern going into the game about whether the Cowboys could stop Buffalo’s ground attack, as the defense was without powerful run stopper Johnathan Hankins. Simply put, they couldn’t.

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

Meanwhile, Buffalo’s defense was as unwelcoming as it was harassing the Cowboys’ effort. Facing heavy pressure all day and a secondary that largely stifled Dallas’ receivers, Prescott’s hot streak ended. He completed 21 of his 34 attempts for just 134 yards, one interception, a poor 57.7 quarterback rating.

Consequently, the NFL’s best offense coming into the weekend had just 92 total yards through three quarters and was held to 195 total yards.

The Bills made it clear from the start that it wasn’t going to be easy, going 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 Stefon Diggs, but Buffalo also got help when DeMarcus Lawrence was called for roughing the passer on a third-and-4 failure, keeping the drive alive. Two snaps later, Latavius ​​Murray pushed the pile the final 2 yards for a touchdown.

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

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

Given a free first down, the Bills dug the hole a little deeper. Buffalo ended the first quarter with a 24-yard run by Cook before continuing its drive in the second frame all the way to the goal line, with 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.

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

But Bills would come right back and add to his point total. And this time they got a little help from the staff. Although Diggs scooped up a pass from Allen and threw for a first down, replays showed Cowboys linebacker Marquese Bell clearly knocked the ball away and Donovan Wilson was able to recover the fumble. But the refs let it go and Buffalo quickly ran out their next play before Dallas could throw the challenge flag.

And for the third time, the Bills took advantage of the extra help, eventually completing their 11-play drive into the end zone to extend their lead to 21-3 at halftime. Cook rolled 20 yards to the Dallas 1-yard line, and Allen took it alone to the left for a touchdown.

At the break, Dallas had just 89 yards of offense on 26 carries, while Cook alone gained 146 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches for Buffalo. Not surprisingly, the Cowboys faced their largest halftime deficit in three years.

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

So why not add some rain to this gloomy affair. After Buffalo piled on more points when, who else, Cook blasted 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 after Lamb took a handoff around right end for a 3-yard score. It at least extended his current touchdown streak to six straight games.

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

With the loss pending the outcome of the Eagles’ game against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, the Cowboys’ hopes of winning the NFC East just got a lot more difficult. And they face another tough game on the road next Sunday as they travel to Miami to take on the AFC East leading Dolphins.

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