The Buffalo Bills thoroughly dominated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, winning 31-10 in a game that actually didn’t even feel that close. Buffalo had no trouble doing whatever they wanted on either offense or defense, and while they didn’t put up much in the way of passing yardage on their own, it turned out that they really didn’t need to do much more than run it right down the throats of an overmatched Cowboys defense.
Our five Bills to watch all contributed in some way, even if they didn’t all contribute equally. In a game where the outcome wasn’t really in doubt for most of the duration of the contest, there were positive contributions from all over the Buffalo roster.
Here’s how our five players to watch performed this week.
QB Josh Allen
Brian Galliford noted in his writeup this week that, if you’d only seen the box score containing Josh Allen’s stats, you’d ask one of two questions: When was Allen injured? Or, how badly did the Bills lose? Frankly, if I’d have seen Allen’s line in my crystal ball (7-for-15, 94 yards, 1 touchdown), I’d have asked both of those questions, as it hasn’t been a hallmark of the Allen-era Bills to win games when their quarterback doesn’t emerge from the phone booth dressed as Superman. Clark Kent sufficed in this one, however, as Allen just needed to make a few plays with his arm and his legs when necessary. He fired a beautiful throw to Stefon Diggs to set the Bills up in plus-territory on their first drive, which ended with a two-yard touchdown plunge from running back Latavius Murray. On their second scoring drive, Allen hit running back James Cook on a rollout for his only touchdown pass of the day — a gorgeous 18-yard strike. On Buffalo’s third scoring drive, Allen scored on a one-yard plunge. On their fourth touchdown drive, and final scoring drive of the night, he extended a play with his legs before finding Stefon Diggs 17 yards downfield, and while the throw was great, it was the one-handed grab by Diggs that stole the show. That third-down conversion immediately preceded a 24-yard James Cook touchdown scamper. Allen threw for under 100 yards in a game where he started and finished for the first time since October 7, 2018, when he threw for 82 yards in a 13-12 win over the Tennessee Titans. He completed fewer than 50% of his passes for the first time since January 2, 2022 in a 29-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Buffalo left some plays on the field Sunday, as three passes were dropped early on and another intended for wide receiver Gabe Davis was just off track after Allen was leveled while making the throw. Overall, it wasn’t a banner day for a player we’re used to watching perform in a superhuman way, but it was nice to watch the Bills dominate a game where their superstar quarterback didn’t put up superstar numbers.
RB James Cook
Well, now with three games to go, Cook needs just 32 yards to become Buffalo’s first 1,000-yard rusher since running back LeSean McCoy in 2017. Cook looked like a superstar on Sunday, carrying 25 times for 179 yards and a touchdown while adding two receptions for 42 yards and another score. He’s the first Bills running back to catch a touchdown in consecutive games since 1995, when Hall of Fame rusher Thurman Thomas did it in Weeks 15 and 16. More than once, I found myself drawing comparisons between Cook’s performance and vintage Thomas, as the second-year product out of Georgia was able to knife through holes, patiently bounce behind his offensive linemen, and run crisp routes in the passing game. Cook has really blossomed since interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady took over, and this past weekend, he even saw that higher snap count we were hoping to find. Cook played on 56% of the team’s snaps — the first time he eclipsed the 50% mark since Week 9. It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustment teams make now that Cook is, well, cooking: Will they stack the box and invite Allen to beat them with his arm? Or will they continue to allow a rejuvenated Bills running game to flourish?
[The Offensive Line]
My goodness. Talk about an old-fashioned butt-whooping. Buffalo’s offensive line looked like it was the varsity team, and the Dallas defense looked like the JV kids running scout team in a run-game segment of practice. Whatever Buffalo wanted to do, they did — and Brady just kept running the same play and the same concept over and over again. I’d write what former Bills running back Marshawn Lynch said about running the football, but it’s really NSFW, so you can look it up yourself. Whether it was on straight-ahead rushes, toss-sweeps to running back Ty Johnson, or pull-trap plays with either offensive tackles Dion Dawkins or Spencer Brown, the Bills had all the right answers for a Dallas defense that missed its starting nose tackle, Johnathan Hankins. Just a week after struggling to block the Kansas City Chiefs, they dominated the Cowboys.
DE Von Miller
Miller was once again absent from the stats sheet, making zero tackles on his 24 snaps. However, the attention he draws is worth noting, as he was the recipient of multiple chips and double-teams from Dallas’ blocking scheme. That extra attention helps his teammates, and Buffalo was able to pressure quarterback Dak Prescott on multiple occasions. As a group, the Bills had three sacks and seven quarterback hits, and they also batted a pass at the line. Miller’s teammate, edge rusher Leonard Floyd, had a sack in this one to give him 10.5 on the year. He’s the first player since Lorenzo Alexander in 2016 to reach that total.
S Jordan Poyer
I thought Poyer had the interception I called in the pregame writeup, as he leapt high to try and snare an errant Prescott pass in the second half. However, Poyer had to settle for the pass breakup, as he was unable to steal the throw. Acting as a hybrid safety/dime linebacker, Poyer was part of a Bills pass defense that flummoxed a potential MVP candidate in Prescott, holding him to just 134 yards passing on the day. 53 of those yards came on the Cowboys’ final drive — a drive that meant nothing and didn’t feature Poyer in the game at that point. The veteran safety had six tackles to go with that pass breakup.