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After further review: Cowboys offense, run defense no-shows in blowout loss to Bills

The Cowboys had a complete system failure vs. Bills

Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys put up a terrible showing against the Buffalo Bills, losing 31-10. The game felt like it was over at halftime as the Cowboys' offense couldn’t do anything and the defense couldn’t stop anything. It was not good.

But was this loss as bad as it looked the first time around? Sadly, it was. Despite a first half that wouldn’t been closer had a punt got blocked, a fumble got challenged, and a roughing the passer penalty not been called, things unraveled in the second half. Here is what we learned after further review.


We all know the Cowboys are vulnerable against the run. Entering this game, they’ve had two games this year where they’ve given up at least 170 yards on the ground, and needless to say, they lost both games by double-digits. We also know they would be without their best run-stopping defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and they employ a slew of smaller hybrid safety/linebackers.

On Sunday, they had their worst run defense showing since Dan Quinn took over the defense. James Cook rushed for 179 yards (7.2 ypc) with another 42 yards receiving and finished with two touchdowns. He would’ve had four touchdowns if he wasn’t stopped at the one-foot line (Josh Allen QB sneak TD) or dropped a bobbled pass near the goal line.

Cook demolished the Cowboys' defense. His shiftiness to bounce outside created all kinds of problems for the group of safeties. The Bills used jumbo packages to overpower an already undersized linebacker group. Defenders were getting washed out and Cook ran the ball with ease, oftentimes not even being touched until he was near the first-down marker. It was tough to sit through.


The list is long as to why the Cowboys couldn’t stop the run, but atop the list is just how bad they were wrapping up. It was a barrage of arm tackling which ultimately didn’t slow anyone down. They couldn’t even bring down the Bills quarterback as he punished the Cowboys' lackluster tackling ability.

It’s hard to judge the team’s pass defense. They only allowed 85 passing yards, but that’s because the Bills seldom had a reason to throw the ball. The Cowboys' offense couldn’t get anything going on their end and that put Dallas in a negative game script the entire time.


The Cowboys were coming off two consecutive games where they ran the ball well and the Bills run defense is the weakest thing about them. We expected this to lead to some extra carries for Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle.

Unfortunately, falling into a hole early put a damper on that plan. They did have a few nice running plays when they ran a draw from shotgun formation. The Bills' defense was loitering in the secondary with an occasional blitz coming after Dak. This left plenty of space to run the ball in the middle of the field.

When Buffalo knew a run was coming, they did a great job sneaking in an extra defensive back from the edge that the Cowboys offense failed to pick up, blowing up the play.


The Cowboys have done a great job operating without much of a ground attack thanks to some good play-calling and top-level passing from Prescott. However, that was not the case in this game. The Bills defense sat on the chains and Dak didn’t see much he liked. It was like déjà vu all over again as Prescott just held the ball and took off running quite a bit. There were just not a lot of open receivers to throw to.


Of course, Prescott chose to take his shots. It’s not clear if he didn’t see the field well or just thought he could fit in a tight window throw, but there were several instances where Dak cut loose into traffic.

And then finally he just lost control of this one as it looked like he got crossed up between two receivers in the same area.


The offense tried to counter with some quick passes to receivers, backs, and tight ends, but nothing was working. The Bills tackled well, the Cowboys couldn’t gain any yards after contact, and they just looked out of sorts all afternoon. A possession late in the third quarter describes the Cowboys' offense in a nutshell on this day.


The offensive plan was terrible all day and they did very little to counter the Bills’ scheme. And even when the answer seemed simple, the Cowboys coaches had other plans. It just seemed like they could do nothing right.

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