Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Cowboys

The Bills show the country who they are with a big win in Dallas

Sal Capaccio
November 29, 2019 - 12:25 am
Josh Allen and Devin Singletary

Photo: Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

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What an amazing way for Buffalo Bills fans to celebrate Thanksgiving. A 26-15 win on the national stage over the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Another game to start with the arrows up:

 

ARROW UP:

  • QB - Josh Allen

The "Josh Allen stinks" crowd doesn’t have much ammunition to use from this one. The Bills' second-year quarterback was terrific all game long. Allen was calm in the pocket, decisive and smart in his decision making, and assertive throwing the ball. Considering the stage, the relevance, the opponent, and the stat line, it may have been his best game as a pro. Allen completed 79.2% of his passes, going 19-for-24 for 231 yards, throwing one touchdown pass and running for another as part of his 43 yards on the ground. He established a Bills franchise record with his eighth consecutive game accounting for two touchdowns, surpassing Jim Kelly’s streak bridging the 1991-92 seasons.
 

  • WR - Cole Beasley

Beasley himself couldn’t have scripted a better return to Dallas. The wideout caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, his first 100-yard game with the team. He’s now caught a touchdown in five of the last seven games.
 

  • RB - Devin Singletary

The Bills rookie running back had a solid all-around performance, gaining 63 yards on 14 carries on the ground and adding another 38 yards on three receptions, along with a touchdown, putting him over 100 yards from scrimmage for the second consecutive week. 
 

  • John Brown’s throw

Just after the two-minute warning in the first half, wide receiver John Brown got the ball on a reverse, then stopped and lofted a pass down the sidelines to Singletary. It was a perfectly thrown strike. Singletary walked into the end zone and the Bills took a lead they’d never give up.
 

  • Brian Daboll

The Bills had an excellent game plan coming into the game, mixing run and pass, and having a plan for the Cowboys' excellent pass rush. He was up in the booth for the third straight week and it, again, translated extremely well for Allen and the offense overall. And, of course, the reverse-pass call to Singletary came at the perfect time and was beautifully executed.
 

  • Bills' offensive line vs. Cowboys' defensive line

The Bills gave up four sacks, but two of them came from cornerback blitzes. For the most part, they did a really good job on an excellent Cowboys front, giving Allen time to look over the field.
 

  • DT - Ed Oliver

What a homecoming for Oliver! The Texas native had a pair of sacks, including a strip-sack of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, resulting in a fumble recovery for the Bills. Oliver finished the game with four tackles, those two sacks, the forced fumble, a quarterback hurry, and a batted-down pass. Oliver’s been on a tear lately, joining Darryl Talley as the only two Bills rookies to record a sack in three straight games.
 

  • DE - Shaq Lawson

Lawson continued the best season of his career with another terrific game, filling the stat sheet with five tackles, a half of a sack, two tackles for loss, and two quarterback hurries.
 

  • DT - Star Lotulelei

Lotulelei showed up on the stats sheet, but in the most unexpected ways. First, he collected his first career interception when he picked off Prescott in the first half. It was the first interception by a Bills defensive tackle since Kyle Williams did it in 2014. Then, on the last play of the first half, Lotulelei got a hand on a Cowboys field goal attempt, causing it to sail wide-left and keep the score 13-7 Buffalo.
 

  • Bills cornerbacks

Tre’Davious White shadowed Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper around the field, and it was a collective effort on the rest of the group throughout the game. Levi Wallace, Kevin Johnson, and Taron Johnson all did a good job of not allowing the big play. Cooper had eight catches for 85 yards, but only two for 16 yards in the second half. Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb each had only three catches, and none of the three scored. The trio of corners also totaled 21 tackles, led by Taron Johnson’s eight, and combined for five pass breakups.
 

  • P - Corey Bojorquez

Once again Bojorquez did an excellent job of directional punting and putting the ball inside the 20-yard line. Bojorquez punted only three times the entire game, but placed one of those at the Dallas 10-yard line and another at their five-yard line. His first punt traveled 58 yards, flipping much-needed field position.
 

  • Third and fourth down offense

The Bills did an excellent job of converting third downs, going 6-for-14 (43%) and also converted both of their fourth down attempts, to give them a 50% (8-for-16) conversion rate on third and fourth down added up.  
 

  • Second half penalties

After committing five penalties in the first half (see below), the Bills were only flagged twice in the second half of the game. 

 

ARROW DOWN:

  • K - Stephen Hauschka 

After a mistake-free game last week, it appeared Hauschka may have put his kicking woes behind him, but he left four points on the field in this one. One missed kick was a tough 50-yard attempt, but very makable in a dome. The other was an extra point. He also hit the right upright on another field goal attempt, but that one bounced through and was ultimately good.  
 

  • No points off first turnover

The game was tied 7-7 in the second quarter and the Bills intercepted Dak Prescott and were set up with staring field position at the Cowboys' 29-yard line. From there, they had a one-yard gain, a four-yard loss on a sack, committed a 10-yard holding penalty (which was declined), and threw an incomplete pass. That’s when Hauschka missed the 50-yard attempt and the Bills came away with no points.
 

  • The first Cowboys drive

Reminiscent of Week 2 against the New York Giants, the Cowboys took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field to score a touchdown. The drive covered 75 yards in nine plays, taking 4:26 off the clock. Dallas had six first downs on the drive. It was certainly not the way the Bills wanted to start the game.
 

  • Third down defense

The Bills had several chances to get off the field but didn’t. Dallas converted 54% (7-for-13) of their third down plays into first downs.
 

  • First half penalties

The Bills were called for five penalties on the first half, costing them 33 yards, including 13 yards on the opening drive, which helped Dallas move the ball and ultimately score a touchdown.

 

THE BIG PICTURE:

The Bills just beat the Cowboys in their own stadium on Thanksgiving Day. Let that sink in for a moment.

Without trying to be hyperbolic, this was one of the biggest regular season wins in the history of the organization. Not because it had so much riding on it for the standings or playoffs. It didn’t. Not because they set records for points scored or other incredible feats. They didn’t.  

This one was one of the biggest simply because of what it means for Bills fans everywhere. Finally, maybe, a measure of respect their team wasn’t getting, even though they were 8-3. The eyes of the nation watching them not only “fight hard” or “give a great effort,” but basically dismantle America’s Team - on America’s Football Day.

After the game, defensive end Shaq Lawson was caught on camera saying “we’re built different.” What a great way to describe this Bills team. Maybe Lawson meant differently than the Cowboys, or other NFL teams. Maybe he meant different than other Bills teams of the past (he’s one of the only holdovers from the Rex Ryan era). I don’t know which he meant, but either would apply.

The Bills are built different than the Cowboys. They don’t have a fancy $1.3 billion stadium that has every bell and whistle any owner would want. They don’t have the star players appearing in national commercials, and they don’t play on national television. In fact, the Bills are the only team in the entire NFL that will go all season without a primetime football game.

These Bills certainly are built different than other teams of the past. The architects are general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott. They’ve built a team that doesn’t have the stars showing up on TV ads. One that doesn’t care who gets the credit. One that just prepares the same way, every day, regardless of who is next on the schedule or what time the game will be played.

Even with all that, Thursday was a chance for this group to finally be noticed. Not even just by the national fans who may not have seen them, or quite believe they’re that good, but even by some of their own fans who were still skeptical, maybe always are by nature.

I’m not here to throw a Super Bowl parade for them. There’s a long way to go in this season, and they have some very tough games on the horizon, including Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens next week at New Era Field. 

However, the time for skepticism is over. The Bills are a good football team.

With young players at key positions, close to $90 million in salary cap space available this offseason, and 18 draft picks collected over the next two years, this looks like it may just be the start of really good things to come.

I made the comment all week leading up to this game that there were probably a lot of people around the country really curious about the Bills. That they’d be tuning in to see what this Allen kid was all about, and how they got to 8-3. Well, they hopefully got some really good answers. A lot more clarity.

Thanksgiving Day 2019 may go down as the day the country took notice of the Bills.

standings



 

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