ARLINGTON, Texas – Here are my hot reads from the Buffalo Bills' 26-15 victory against the Dallas Cowboys Thursday at AT&T Stadium.
The Bills treated their fans to a glorious Thanksgiving by giving one of their best performances in what is easily their biggest win in 20 years on as large a national stage as they've had in a long time. A year ago, the Cowboys' Thanksgiving game against Washington was the most-watched game of the 2018 NFL regular season and sixth-most-watched sporting event of the year. It's safe to say a similar audience tuned in to watch the Bills feast on the Cowboys for their third win in a row and clinch a winning season for the fourth time in the last 20 years.
Buffalo's defense was absolutely smothering against the NFL's top-ranked offense, forcing two turnovers.
The offense was equally impressive, especially Josh Allen, who threw for a TD and ran for one. Allen produced arguably the game's turning point when, on fourth-and-1 from the Dallas 30, he fumbled the snap, picked it up and powered his way over the middle of the defense for a 3-yard gain. Allen, who finished with 43 yards on 10 carries, punctuated the play with a big fist pump.
On the next play, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll reached deep into his playbook. He called a double reverse, with Andre Roberts taking a handoff from Allen and running to his left before pitching to John Brown, who was running to his right. Brown then threw a 28-yard touchdown to Devin Singletary. That gave the Bills a 13-7 lead with 1:52 left in the half.
The Cowboys never threatened from there.
With a 9-3 record, the Bills figure to need one more win in their final four games to secure a playoff spot.
- Rookie Ed Oliver had a huge coming-out party in his home state. With impatience growing over when he would start showing why the Bills made the former University of Houston star the ninth overall pick of the draft, Oliver responded with two sacks, including a strip of Dak Prescott to set up the Bills' second TD.
- After allowing Ezekiel Elliott to rush for 56 yards in the first quarter, the Bills limited him to 15 the rest of the way.
- The Bills had an impressive 85-yard drive in eight plays to tie the game at 7-7 with a 25-yard Allen touchdown throw to former Cowboy Cole Beasley with 8:01 left in the second quarter. Allen opened the series with a 14-yard completion to Brown, while Singletary ran for 26 yards. Allen also converted a third-and-1 with a 1-yard run and also ran for nine yards to help set up the scoring pass.
- Star Lotulelei blocked a 35-yard field-goal attempt by Brett Maher at the end of the first half.
- Facing pressure, Prescott threw a pass directly to defensive tackle Lotulelei, who made the first interception of his seven-year NFL career at the Cowboys' 29. After the turnover, Stephen Hauschka was short on a 50-yard final-goal attempt.
- Beasley got some retribution against the team that allowed him to become a free agent during the offseason. He caught six passes for a game-high 110 yards and the score to equal his career high with five touchdown catches for the season.
- The Cowboys made it look too easy on the game's opening series, driving 75 yards on nine plays to an 8-yard Prescott touchdown pass to Jason Witten. Prescott had 16- and 20-yard completions to Amari Cooper (on the game's opening play from scrimmage) and Elliott, respectively.
- Hauschka was wide right on a 50-yard field-goal attempt and also on an extra-point try after the Bills' second TD. He finally connected on a 41-yard field-goal attempt to give the Bills a 16-7 advantage early in the third quarter. Of course, it bounced in off the right upright.
- The officiating crew for calling what appeared to be a phantom illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty on Jordan Phillips to wipe out what would have been a second Bills interception, by Micah Hyde, and third Cowboy turnover.
Setting the table
The Bills get some extended time off before their next game. And it's a good thing, because that game is against the high-flying Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 8 at New Era Field.