The Buffalo Bills have zero primetime games this season, and only one game on national television: Thanksgiving Day at the Dallas Cowboys. This 90s Super Bowl rematch was the second of three NFL games on Thanksgiving Day, and with a 4:30 start time you can be sure that many pairs of eyes were glued to the TV to witness it.
The Bills (8-3) have a fantastic defense and inconsistent (but improving) offense, and have largely gone under the radar - But no longer. Second year quarterback Josh Allen out of the University of Wyoming was a mixed bag in his rookie year, but in his sophomore stint he has been much more consistent. His arm talent is undeniable, and his scrambling and running ability works to extend plays and confuse opposing defenses.
Dallas (6-5) garners attention as always, however, they have not beaten a team with a winning record all season long. They were feeling the praise of the football world after a 3-0 start, including a dominating win against the lowly Miami Dolphins, but fell back down to earth following three straight losses. Their third loss of the season back in week 6 was perhaps their worst, as they traveled to northern New Jersey to take on the New York Jets, who at that point had a winless start at 0-4. The Cowboys followed up that three game skid with two divisional wins, against the Eagles and at the Giants. Flying high again, the hype had returned, only for Dallas to lose in primetime at home against the Minnesota Vikings. They responded by defeating the Detroit Lions on the road, but went to New England and as their offense couldn’t find the endzone, they owned another loss.
Entering the game the Cowboys still controlled the NFC East at 6-5, with Philadelphia at 5-6 and Dallas holding the head-to-head tiebreaker, but they were still gunning for a win against the challenging Buffalo Bills to take full control of their pursuit for a second straight divisional title.
Buffalo, sitting comfortably at 8-3, is only two games back of New England with a head-to-head matchup still to come after losing the first game against the Patriots. They are a full two games ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first AFC Wild Card.
Buffalo’s defense crumbled right away, as the Cowboys carved up zone coverage for an opening drive score and a 7-0 lead. However, Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense quickly tied it up as former Cowboy Cole Beasley was the one with the game tying score. 7-7 was the score just seven minutes into the contest.
After the Cowboys drove into Buffalo territory, the vaunted Bills defense tightened up and forced a stop, but Dallas Punter Chris Jones corked a beauty and pinned Buffalo’s offense at their own two yard line. Impressively, Buffalo drove into Dallas territory from their own 2 before being stopped and forced to punt, but they regained the field position advantage and Dallas started their next drive at their 10, which stalled just short of midfield.
Buffalo RB Devin Singletary ripped off a big play to get near midfield. Later in the drive, former Cowboy WR Cole Beasley scored against his former team where he took a slant pass to the house for a 25 yard score. He is one of three players ever to score for and against Dallas on Thanksgiving.
In a tie game, Dallas had third and one, before QB Dak Prescott tried setting up a screen pass that was intercepted at their own 29 yard line. However, the Bills couldn’t take advantage as they were backed up on a Christian Covington sack, and kicker Stephen Hauschka missed a 50 yard field goal as the Bills failed to take the lead.
After a defensive stop, Dak Prescott turned the ball over again when he was sacked by #9 Overall pick Ed Oliver out of the University of Houston. Trent Murphy recovered at the Dallas 39 yard line. After converting a fourth down, Devin Singletary took a screen pass 28 yards for a touchdown and the Bills had their first lead of the game, but the troubles continued for kicker Stephen Hauschka as he missed the extra point, 13-7.
On the last drive of the first half, Dallas looked primed to respond as they got all the way to the Bills 25 yard line. With 4 seconds left, Brett Maher came out to attempt to cut the deficit, but his kick was blocked by Star Lotulelei. The score at halftime was 13-7, Buffalo leading.
Buffalo got down the field to open the second half, reaching the Dallas 20 yard line at the edge of the redzone, before suffering a sack and settling for a field goal to build a two-possession lead at 16-7.
The Cowboys, aided by a big 35 yard reception by WR Michael Gallup, quickly crossed midfield and gave Maher an opportunity to get it back to a one score game. There was no blocked kick this time, but a miss instead from 47 yards out.
Getting the ball back, now with a two-possession lead, the Bills offense put together a masterfully mixed 63 yard touchdown drive, which culminated in QB Josh Allen taking it in himself from 15 yards out, and the squad from Western New York had a commanding 23-7 lead.
Dallas got into the redzone on a drive helped out by a 15 yard late hit penalty against Jerry Hughes. The Boys’ offense had first and goal from the Buffalo 9 yard line, trailing by 16 points near the end of the third quarter. The Following sequence was an incompletion for Cooper, a 3 yard pass to Elliot, an incompletion for Gallup, and then on fourth and goal, another incompletion for Elliot, and Dallas came up empty.
The Bills took their time and took nearly seven minutes off the clock as they got a field goal to make it a three-possession lead at 26-7 as the fat lady began to sing in Arlington.
With just six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Dallas faced fourth and four when Prescott was sacked and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the offense but resulted in a turnover on downs anyway.
The Bills burned the Cowboys timeouts on their next drive before punting, Dallas scored a garbage time touchdown and two-point conversion, and the Buffalo Bills won by a score of 26-15 on the road this Thanksgiving.
Dallas (6-6) still controls their own destiny and has the advantage in the NFC East. Philadelphia would need to win this Sunday to get to 6-6 and stay on the Cowboys’ heels, or else they would fall a full game behind plus the tiebreaker. The Week 16 matchup between the Cowboys and Eagles is looming large in determining the fate of those two NFC East squads.
Buffalo (9-3) has kept the pressure on the New England Patriots in the AFC East by virtue of their upset win in Dallas on Turkey Day. They now have a three game lead for the first wild card in the AFC, and aim to make the NFL Postseason for just the second time in 23 years after reaching the playoffs in 2017.