The Dallas Cowboys entered Sunday’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills on a five-game winning streak. They had scored at least 33 points in all five of those games, and had hit at least that minimum in six of their last seven, as well.
However, the Cowboys left on the wrong end of a 31-10 drubbing, a game that was only as close as it was because the Bills were able to remove their starters with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Dallas mustered a garbage-time scoring drive while Buffalo’s reserves played, but it didn’t change the fact that the Bills were the dominant force in this one.
Buffalo emerged with the victory by nullifying the impact of each of our five Cowboys to watch, and they did so in different ways. In what was a complete team win, the Bills physically bullied a 10-win Dallas team from start to finish.
Here’s how our five Cowboys to watch performed this week.
QB Dak Prescott
So much for that MVP chatter. Prescott had (rightfully) earned praise as a potential MVP this season for his play entering the contest. However, after posting a pedestrian line — 21-of-34 for 134 yards and one interception — that talk will probably subside now. In truth, Prescott’s line wasn’t even as good as it looks there, as most of his production came on the aforementioned garbage-time touchdown drive. On that final possession by Dallas’ offense, Prescott completed 8-of-10 passes for 53 yards, meaning that he had completed just 13-of-24 passes for 81 yards prior to it. Prescott was sacked twice and just looked uncomfortable throughout the game. Buffalo’s defense gave him plenty of exotic coverage looks, mixing stunts and blitz packages with simulated pressures and different looks on the back end, as well. It was a masterclass in defensive game planning from head coach Sean McDermott, and it slowed the NFL’s top-scoring offense to a near-total halt.
WR CeeDee Lamb
Dallas’ top wideout looked okay in the box score, as he caught seven passes for 53 yards on 10 targets. All of those totals were game-highs. He also added a three-yard rushing touchdown with just under three minutes to go in the game that at least helped fantasy managers who have Lamb on their roster. However, like Prescott, much of Lamb’s production came on that final drive — as he caught three passes for 15 yards on the drive, adding that score at the end. Once cornerback Rasul Douglass took a seat on the bench, the passing lanes opened a bit. It was already too little, too late.
TE Jake Ferguson
All week, we heard about how well Prescott would utilize his receivers in the middle of the field. Then, Buffalo was able to throttle that part of the field, along with every other passing option, en route to a blowout win. Ferguson caught six passes for 44 yards on eight targets. He caught all three of his targets for 23 yards on the final offensive possession of the game for Dallas. Once the Bills stopped playing their starters, Dallas was able to operate on offense. Again, by that point, it didn’t matter whatsoever. Hats off to the group in the middle, including linebackers Terrel Bernard and Tyrel Dodson, safeties Jordan Poyer, Taylor Rapp, and Cam Lewis, and slot corner Taron Johnson for their efforts.
LB Micah Parsons
The superb edge rusher had just two tackles on the day, adding a pressure of Josh Allen in the early going, but not much more. The Bills used the athleticism of their offensive linemen and Parsons’ aggressiveness to game plan in a way that would set the Bills up for success. Once the game script turned positive for Buffalo, Parsons’ best trait — his pass-rush ability — was nullified, and the Bills just ran the football at will. Had Dallas’ offense done much of anything, it’s likely that Parsons would have had a greater impact on the game; however, thanks to Buffalo’s continuous success running the football, he wasn’t as effective as he could have been.
CB Stephon Gilmore
The savvy veteran corner did a nice job when the Bills actually did throw the football. He was a big part of the reason why quarterback Josh Allen completed just 7-of-15 passes for 94 yards on the day. He was the closest defender to wideout Stefon Diggs when the All-Pro receiver couldn’t haul in a third-down pass on Buffalo’s second drive, and while it looked like a ball Diggs had to have, Gilmore was all over him. The veteran had five tackles on the day, as he spent much of his afternoon and evening working in run support as Buffalo piled up 266 yards on the ground. He also had one pass breakup.