Led by Gillislee, Bills ground out 16-6 win over Cowboys
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Rex Ryan vowed the Buffalo Bills would have a ground-and-pound running attack.
Little did the first-year coach expect it was going to feature Mike Gillislee doing his best LeSean McCoy impression.
With McCoy sidelined by a right knee injury, Gillislee and rookie Karlos Williams ran over the Dallas Cowboys in a 16-6 win on Sunday.
''Absolutely terrific,'' Ryan said. ''You've got a Pro Bowl running back out, and these two men step in and do a tremendous job for us.''
Gillislee had 93 yards rushing, and sealed the win by weaving his way up the right sideline to score on a 50-yard touchdown run with 2:25 remaining. Williams also scored on a 1-yard run as the NFL's top-ranked running attack combined for 236 yards despite missing numerous regulars.
''I always had this confidence,'' said Gillislee, who spent his first two seasons in Miami before landing on Buffalo's practice squad this year. ''It was a matter of opportunity, and the Bills gave me that an opportunity.''
Another rookie, linebacker A.J. Tarpley, also had a hand in the win. Filling in for injured starter Nigel Bradham, Tarpley sealed the victory by forcing Lucky Whitehead to fumble on the kickoff return that followed Gillislee's touchdown. Tarpley also had an interception.
Buffalo (7-8) snapped a two-game skid and won for just the second time in six games in a matchup between two teams already eliminated from playoff contention.
The Cowboys (4-11) continue to slide without injured quarterback Tony Romo. Kellen Moore lost in his first career start, as Dallas dropped to 1-10 in games without Romo.
The Cowboys also played without receiver Dez Bryant (ankle, foot injury).
Dan Bailey had two field goals for the Cowboys, who have scored just 22 points in their past five games.
''We certainly need to get better offensively,'' coach Jason Garrett said. ''We did a good job of running the football at different times. But, we weren't able to sustain drives.''
Moore went 13 of 31 for 186 yards with an interception. Darren McFadden ran for 99 yards.
The game was decided after the Bills ate up more than 4 minutes of the clock. Facing second-and-5 at midfield, Gillislee took a handoff to the right and got key blocks from guard Richie Incognito and receiver Chris Hogan.
Bills starter Tyrod Taylor went 13 of 18 for 179 yards and an interception.
The Bills went ahead for good on Dan Carpenter's 32-yards field goal with 6:17 left in the third quarter.
With the game tied at 6, Taylor blew a chance to put Buffalo ahead before halftime. Facing third-and-1 at the Cowboys 4 with 8 seconds left, Taylor underthrew a pass intended for Hogan at the right sideline of the end zone, and was easily intercepted by Deji Olatoye.
It was only Taylor's sixth interception of the season.
The victory took the heat off Ryan, who was facing a large share of criticism for Buffalo being eliminated from playoff contention for a 16th straight season - the NFL's longest active drought.
And it also sets up an intriguing showdown in the Bills' season finale in Buffalo next weekend. Ryan will be facing his former team, the New York Jets, who at 10-5 need a win to guarantee a playoff berth.
''We're going to give them our best shot,'' said Ryan, whose Bills beat the Jets 22-17 at the Meadowlands in November.
NOTES: Taylor had 67 yards rushing to up his season total 517, surpassing the single-season franchise record for yards rushing by a quarterback set by Doug Flutie (476) in 1999. ... Bills DT Marcell Dareus did not return after sustaining a neck injury in the second quarter. ... Cowboys S Barry Church broke his right arm.
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