After a frustrating loss in inclement weather to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last week, the Dallas Cowboys will attempt to get back on track with a short week turnaround against the Buffalo Bills.
Unfortunately for Dallas, they will be without a pair of their top defenders in Antwaun Woods and Leighton Vander Esch, who will each miss the game due to injury. In replacement of Woods, rookie second-round pick Trysten Hill will get another opportunity to make an impact.
For the Bills, wideout Robert Foster and center Mitch Morse, who were both listed as questionable coming into the game, are expected to give it a go on Thursday.
After being held without a catch last week against New England, the Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper will likely be an early focus for a Cowboys offense that was held without a touchdown last week for the first time all season.
For seemingly the first time since their 3-0 start, the Cowboys got off to a fast start on their first drive, moving the ball down the field with a balanced combination of the run and the pass.
The Cowboys defense came out on fire as well for head coach Jason Garrett, forcing a Bills punt after just five plays. The stand was highlighted by a sack from safety Darian Thompson, who flew through the line of scrimmage to sack Josh Allen for an eight-yard loss.
The next Cowboy drive started off almost as well as the opening possession, with Dallas flying across midfield behind the strong running of Ezekiel Elliott. However, after a pair of missed passes from Dak Prescott, the drive stalled, and the Cowboys were forced to punt.
With the Bills starting their next drive at their own two-yard-line thanks to an excellent punt from Chris Jones, Josh Allen bailed out his offense with an excellent pass across the middle on 3rd and 10 to former Cowboy Cole Beasley, to give Buffalo the ball at the 31. Dallas nearly got off of the field yet again, until cornerback Byron Jones was called for a pass interference penalty on 3rd and eight, extending the Buffalo drive. Dallas was able to get a stop from there, however, and took over from their own 10 after the punt.
The Cowboys could not get anything going on their following offensive possession, despite an excellent scramble on third down from Dak Prescott. Obviously feeling the pressure of the hot seat, however, Jason Garrett decided to go for the first down on 4th and one from his own 19 and converted on a quarterback sneak. Two plays later, Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a gain of 17 yards, and a first down. The drive would come to a halt after that, however, after a big loss on a first down run from Elliott put them behind the chains.
After a couple of explosive plays, the Bills were across midfield and into Dallas territory very quickly on their next drive. Just a couple of plays later, former Cowboy Cole Beasley caught another impressive throw from Josh Allen across the middle, that he took 25 yards for the score, tying the game at 7-7 with 8:01 to go in the first half.
Disaster ensued on the next Cowboys possession, when Dak Prescott threw an interception on a screen pass to Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, setting Buffalo up in premium position inside Dallas territory. The Bills were backed up by a Christian Covington sack, however, and were forced to settle for a long field goal attempt. Stephen Hauschka missed the attempt, giving Dallas the ball back at their own 32.
With the ball back in their hands, Dallas got a quick first down on an out route to Amari Cooper, getting them passed midfield. However, Prescott would turn the ball over for the second time after he was stripped by Ed Oliver, giving Buffalo another opportunity inside Dallas territory.
The Bills shot nearly themselves in the foot again, however, after a holding call put them behind the chains after the first play of the drive. However, Cole Beasly was able to get them back into field goal range after a 19-yard reception across the middle. From there, the Bills went for it on fourth down and one, and avoided another near disaster when Josh Allen fumbled the snap, but was somehow able to recover the ball and advance it across the line of scrimmage for a first down. On the next play, the Bills took the lead on a double reverse touchdown pass from John Brown to Devin Singletary. Hauschka missed the PAT, however, leaving the Buffalo lead at 13-7 with 1:52 to go in the half.
After a Buffalo penalty negated Prescott's third turnover of the half, the Cowboys moved the chains on a pass to Cooper. Prescott was sacked on the next play but completed back-to-back passes to move Dallas into Buffalo territory with 25 seconds to go in the half. Another completion to Elliott got the ball into field goal range for Dallas with 17 seconds to go, where they took a timeout. Two plays later, Dallas elected to settle for a field goal, which Brett Maher missed, leaving the score at 13-7 Buffalo heading into the locker room.
The Bills started the second half with the football and moved the ball across midfield after three big plays for first downs from Isaiah McKenzie, Cole Beasley, and Frank Gore. The Dallas defense was able to make a stand from there though, forcing a Stephen Hauschka field goal attempt. Hauschka hit the attempt off of the upright and through the goalposts, extending the Buffalo lead to 16-7.
The Cowboys came out firing on their first drive of the second half, getting the ball to the Buffalo 28-yard-line in just two plays. The drive was thrown off, however, when Prescott was sacked for the third time in the game, which was then followed by a false start from Connor Williams. On 3rd and 19, the Cowboys got back to the 30, where Brett Maher would attempt another field goal. Maher missed the attempt, keeping the score at 16-7 Buffalo.
Buffalo took some time off of the clock on their next chance with the football, using a balanced combination of the run and the pass to their advantage. An Allen completion to Isaiah McKenzie put Buffalo within striking distance, followed by another first down grab from Cole Beasley. On their first offensive play from the red zone in the entire game, Josh Allen ran the ball for a touchdown, extending the Bills lead to 23-7 with 3:37 to go in the third quarter.
Aided by a tough third-down run and a couple of big catches from Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb, Dallas found themselves inside the Buffalo 10-yard-line in a hurry. After a Prescott to Gallup touchdown was overturned, Jason Garrett elected to go for it on fourth down, and it failed, giving Buffalo the ball back with a 23-7 lead in their pocket.
With the momentum firmly at their backs, Josh Allen led a time-consuming drive right through the heart of the Dallas defense, taking over seven minutes of game time off of the clock. Dallas was able to hold them out of the endzone, but Stephen Hauschka was able to knock through another field goal, making the score 26-7 Buffalo with 8:20 to play in the game.
With Buffalo playing a conservative defense, Dallas was able to move the ball fairly well trough the air on the next possession. After they got into Buffalo territory though, the Bills defense tightened up and forced Dallas to go for it on fourth down once again. Prescott was strip-sacked for the second time of the game on the fourth-down play, giving Buffalo the ball back with 5:55 to go in the game.
Attempting to bleed the clock, Buffalo ran the ball three consecutive times. Dallas was able to get the stop, but used all three of their timeouts in the process, giving them the ball back with just 5:28 to go in the game, trailing by 19 points.
Dallas was able to score quickly when Ventell Bryant caught a touchdown pass from Dak Prescott, capping off a 70-yard drive in just a minute and 27 seconds, and making the score 26-15 Buffalo with only four minutes to go.
After the onside kick was recovered by the Bills, they were able to bleed the clock the rest of the way, sealing the Cowboys 26-15 defeat on Thanksgiving Day.