QB Taylor rewards linemen as Bills prepare to host Cowboys
The first-time starter is also making inroads in the locker room, where he continues to establish himself as a team leader.
Taylor surprised members of Buffalo's starting offensive line by having 65-inch TVs delivered to each of their stalls on Tuesday.
Taylor isn't the first quarterback to reward his linemen. And yet the gesture of appreciation was considered significant coming from one of the NFL's lowest-paid starters who is outperforming his $750,000 base salary.
''When you're the guy, you take command of the locker room. You take command of the huddle. And that's another sign of him getting it,'' guard Richie Incognito said. ''I'm really proud of him in how far he's come, and excited for him to see how far he can go.''
Taylor's only regret is how word got out.
''Just showing my appreciation,'' said Taylor, who spent the previous four seasons as Joe Flacco's backup in Baltimore. ''We couldn't get anywhere without them. It starts with them in the running game and the passing game.''
Taylor has been a threat in both categories. He has thrown 20 touchdowns versus five interceptions, and his 450 yards rushing rank second on the team.
Votes a Pro Bowl alternate Tuesday, Taylor has done enough already this season to earn coach Rex Ryan's backing to keep the No. 1 job heading into next year.
In the meantime, with Buffalo (6-8) out of playoff contention for a 16th straight season, Taylor has two more starts to look forward to, beginning with a home game against Dallas (4-10) on Sunday.
It's a nonconference matchup between two injury-plagued teams that have failed to meet preseason expectations.
Buffalo's high-priced defense has struggled to make the transition to Ryan's system. The Cowboys' woes are directly tied to losing starting quarterback Tony Romo, who has been limited to making four starts after breaking his collarbone twice.
Dallas is 1-9 in games without Romo, and preparing to go with its fourth quarterback of the season, with Kellen Moore set to make his first career start.
''We just simply haven't handled that adversity as well as we need to,'' Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. ''The teams that are able to overcome these kind of injuries are the ones that are going to play in the playoffs. And we simply haven't done a good enough job of that.''
Here are some things to know about the Bills and Cowboys:
NO DEZ? Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant's status is uncertain because he has been bothered by injuries to his right foot and ankle. ''If he's ready to play, he'll play. If he's not he won't,'' Garrett said, when asked if Bryant might miss the final two games.
NO SHADY: It's a similar situation for Bills running back LeSean McCoy, who hurt his right knee in a 35-25 loss at Washington on Sunday. McCoy isn't expected to play against Dallas and Ryan hasn't ruled out the possibility of McCoy missing Buffalo's season finale against the Jets on Jan. 3. McCoy was the only Bills player selected to the Pro Bowl this season.
FIRST START: Moore, an undrafted free agent out of Boise State, spent his first three seasons in Detroit before being signed to the Cowboys' practice squad in September. Taking over for Matt Cassel, he went 15 of 25 for 158 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions in making his NFL debut in a 19-16 loss to the Jets last weekend. Moore has already faced the Bills once this year, in Detroit's preseason finale. He went 16 of 22 for 150 yards and a touchdown in a 17-10 victory.
Cassel avoids facing his former team after being traded by Buffalo to Dallas in September.
UNCHARTED, UNWANTED TERRITORY: For the first time in five full seasons under Garrett, the Cowboys won't have something to play for in the regular-season finale. They were out of contention - and without an injured Romo - when Garrett took over for the fired Wade Phillips at 1-7 in 2010. Dallas won the NFC East at 12-4 last year.
DROUGHT EXTENDED: The Bills' playoff drought is the NFL's longest active streak, and tied with the 1936-51 Detroit Lions for eighth longest in league history.
AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Irving, Texas, contributed to this report.
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