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Bills shut down Cowboys tight end

Lawson & Co. vs. Jason Witten

The Cowboys’ great tight end was held to just one catch for 12 yards. He was targeted just twice. It was his lowest catch total of the season and only the third time in the last 86 games he has been held to one catch. Dallas star receiver Dez Bryant was out with a foot injury, and the Bills wanted to keep Witten from being the security blanket for first-time starting QB Kellen Moore. Lawson dropped back into zones a bunch against Witten, and the Bills did a lot of bracket coverage on him. Witten has 71 catches for 655 yards this year.

“With Bryant being out, we knew he was going to have a key role in their offense being successful,” Lawson said. “We double-teamed him. We had safety help, there were several looks we gave him to not allow him to be successful.”

First-down runs vs. Dallas D

The Bills were able to impose their will on a Dallas defense that entered the game ranked 18th in the NFL against the run.

Buffalo rushed 40 times for 236 yards, good for a 5.9-yard average. Better still, the Bills kept Dallas’ defense on its heels with the run and kept Tyrod Taylor out of uncomfortable down-and-distance situations. On first down, Buffalo rushed 21 times for 118 yards, an average of 5.62 yards a carry. The Bills passed on only five first-down plays. The Bills average an NFL-best 154 rushing yards a game.

“I thought our defense battled well,” said Dallas coach Jason Garrett. “They’re obviously a very good running team, and they were able to run the ball fairly effectively throughout the game. I thought our defense consistently made critical stops to keep them to nine points throughout the large portion of this ballgame.”

Dallas OL vs. Bills DL

The Cowboys have what many consider the top offensive line in the NFL. It fared reasonably well in defeat against the Bills, considering it was trying to protect a first-time starting QB – Kellen Moore – who has significant limitations. Dallas rushed for 4.8 yards a carry. Moore was not sacked all day, although he was hurried a bunch.

The Cowboys have invested heavily and wisely in their O-line. They made left tackle Tyron Smith a first-round pick in 2011, center Travis Frederick a first-rounder in 2013 and right guard Zack Martin a first-rounder in 2014. All three made the Pro Bowl this year. The other two O-linemen are pretty good, too. Right tackle Doug Free has been a fixture for seven years, and left guard La’el Collins is having a strong rookie year. The OL had four penalties against the Bills (two holds, two false starts).