Well, get out the antacid because this one isn’t going to make the stomach feel well. The Dallas Cowboys were hoping to come out and beat a winning football team, but just like previous attempts this year - they just didn’t have it in them. It started out great, but there were very few things to cheer about for most of the game. The Buffalo Bills gave the Cowboys their largest defeat of the season, coming away with a convincing 26-15 victory.
That’s not how we were hoping to spend our Thanksgiving, but the damage is done. Here are ten thoughts on this upsetting loss to the Bills.
1. A fast start
The Cowboys did something they haven’t done all season - they scored a touchdown on their opening possession of the game. It was fantastic. The offense drove down the field with ease. Dallas went 75 yards on eight plays in under five minutes to take a 7-0 lead in the game.
It was refreshing to see the offense finally get off to a fast start. Unfortunately, the rest of the game wasn’t so great as the Bills went on to score the next 23 points. The short amount of excitement we felt in the beginning turned out to just be a tease.
2. All bark, no bite
This game marks the fifth time this season the Cowboys have out-gained their opponents in yards and still lost the game. Against the Bills, they put up a 400+ yard performance for the ninth time this year. But none of that matters if they can’t turn those yards into points, and let’s face it - the Cowboys just can’t do that.
Despite holding the ball for nearly seven minutes less than the Bills, the Cowboys still had 70 more yards than Buffalo. It’s really hard to know what to be angry about. They’re good until they aren’t, and that seems to be the reoccurring theme with this offense.
3. More fourth-down drama
It was really surprising that Jason Garrett chose to go for it at his own 20-yard line early in the game. On one hand, you like the aggressiveness of the head coach to believe in his offense enough to pick up a few inches; however, that was a huge risk. It worked out for the Cowboys as Dak Prescott was able to get the first on a quarterback sneak.
Speaking of quarterback sneaks, how fortunate was Josh Allen to be able to scoop up a fumble on a fourth-and-short and push ahead for the yards he needed for the first down. It was a great heads up for the young quarterback, but it just seemed like another bad break for Dallas to allow a play like that to keep the drive going for Buffalo.
4. The sloppiness continues
The Cowboys continue to lose the turnover battle. It’s a common occurrence for bad football teams. Dak Prescott made some very poor decisions with the football. First, he tried to throw the ball away to avoid the sack, but must’ve misjudged the whereabouts of Star Lotulelei because the Bills defensive lineman was able to come up with the interception.
Prescott had another bad play later in the game when he held the ball too long. Rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver was able to get around the edge and knock the ball out of Prescott’s hand. Dak’s got to have an internal clock or at least step up in the pocket. Backup guard Xavier Su’a-Filo wasn’t able to hold off Oliver long enough to give Prescott the time he needed to make the thrown.
5. Bad clock management
Coach Garrett’s been accused of bad clock management in the past, so for some people - this won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Toward the end of the half, the Cowboys were trying to scrap together some points after the Bills went up 13-7 with just under two minutes left to play. Prescott was sacked to set up a 2nd-and-18, so it understandable to not stop the clock at that point because they didn’t want to give Buffalo another chance to get points before the half. But when Dak hit Michael Gallup for 11 yards on the next play, the Cowboys should’ve burned a timeout. Instead, they let the clock run, essentially playing for no better than a field goal.
The offense continued to move the ball and was able to get as far as the Buffalo 17-yard line, but it would’ve been interesting to see what they could’ve done with 20 more seconds.
6. More Maher misses
It’s frustrating to see the Cowboys offense fail to find the end zone after putting together some good drives. But that frustration reaches a whole new level when their field goal kicker can’t even help them come away with a few points. Brett Maher continues to struggle this season as his greatest misses tour keeps on rolling.
Brett Maher has missed five of last six FG from 40-49 yards.— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) November 28, 2019
7. Turnover on downs
Not only did the Cowboys give the ball away twice, but they also turned the ball over to Buffalo two more times after failing to convert on fourth down. When Gallup failed to haul in what would’ve been a great catch, the Cowboys needed a fourth-down conversion in a big way. But Dak and company just couldn’t find a way to get into the end zone, and the Cowboys chances to get back in the game fizzled.
It doesn’t matter what the Cowboys choose to do - go for it or kick a field goal, neither seems to work out favorably for them.
8. Bringing da sauce back to AT&T
Nobody likes seeing the opposing team score touchdowns against the Cowboys, but if it has to happen, it’s nice to see it being done by Cole Beasley. The former Cowboys receiver had his best game of the season, racking up six catches for 110 yards, including the Bills first touchdown of the game.
It had to feel good for Beasley to come up with some big plays at his old stomping ground, but it didn’t feel so great for us.
9. The Amari scare
Cowboys fans got a little bit of a scare when their prized receiver exited the game with what looked like a knee injury. Cooper, who has been quite impressive at home, finished the game with eight catches for 85 yards. But it was his final catch that got our attention as he went end-over-end after the Bills defense hit him.
Cooper came off the field on his own and then returned a few plays later. One has to wonder how smart it was keeping him out on the field when the game was, for all intent and purposes, over. Even watching Dak rush for extra yards was unnerving.
10. Still alive
It’s no fun to keep beating the drum of optimism about the Cowboys playoff chances after a loss, but the reality remains - this team continues to be in the hunt. If the Philadelphia Eagles win this week, both teams will be tied with a 6-6 record. The Cowboys can still afford to drop a game over the next two weeks and still control their own destiny. That’s because they won the first meeting between these two teams, and if they beat them in Week 16, they’ll cinch the tiebreaker by virtue of owning the head-to-head.
That little nugget doesn’t make us feel better about how this team is playing right now. Even backing into the playoffs isn’t going to mean much if it comes with an early playoff exit. As it stands now, the Cowboys don’t look like a team that can make much noise. Maybe that will change over the last month of the regular season, and if it does - at least we can take comfort in knowing the road to a playoff berth remains relatively clear.