The Dallas Cowboys put up a good fight through the first half of Kellen Moore’s first career start in Buffalo, but ultimately came up short in another 2015 game – there second to last – by a final score of 16-6.
Dallas would take a 3-0 lead on the game’s opening possession as Brice Butler converted two pivotal third downs. Butler, a player that fans have been calling for to see more time, could have had a touchdown on the drive as well if not for a missed Moore throw to bring out Bailey from 46 yards.
The Cowboys defense would then force a turnover on downs as Brandon Carr came up to make a big tackle on Sammy Watkins on a third down play before Tyrod Taylor failed to connect with Chris Hogan on fourth down, covered by Terrance Mitchell. As the ball went through Hogan’s hands, Dallas would take over at their own 35.
With a chance to put up more points, Dan Bailey missed just his second field goal attempt of the season – this one from 50 yards out to hold the score at 3-0. Buffalo took just six plays to respond and take the lead, as Karlos Williams went in from one yard out.
Rolando McClain missed key tackles on the drive, as Williams brought the ball all the way into the red zone on the first play of the drive with a 26-yard run and 15-yard facemask tacked on. The Cowboys stepped up to force a third down, but McClain missed once again on a swing pass to Mike Gillislee – who had a touchdown overturned on the play.
One play later, Williams was in for the score and a 6-3 Bills lead. Dan Carpenter missed the extra point to keep the score right there.
Penalties would force the Cowboys to punt on the next drive, but the defense would once again do its job to swarm to Williams on third down and hold the Bills to a three and out.
A 28 yard Lucky Whitehead punt return followed by a Butler 34 yard catch into the red zone would quickly allow the Cowboys to tie the game at 6 on Bailey’s second field goal.
The Bills would kill most of the remaining clock for the first half, methodically taking up 5:23 with 13 plays down to the 4-yard line. However, they would come up empty thanks to a Deji Olatoye interception in the end zone. Kellen Moore took a knee to end the half knotted at six.
Both teams would go three and out to open the second half before another long Bills drive resulted in a Carpenter field goal. Starting from the 30, they went 56 yards in 10 plays to take a 9-6 lead. This would be all the Bills needed, as their defense shut down the Cowboys in the second half.
Dallas’ best chance to tie or take the lead would come on the ensuing drive before a pass behind Butler was tipped and intercepted by A.J. Tarpley. The Bills would give it right back though, as three plays later Brandon Carr recovered a Williams fumble.
Starting from the 39, the Cowboys managed one first down before being forced to punt, pinning Buffalo at the eleven.
The Bills would punt again and give Dallas yet another chance, but the drive did not get off to a good start as big plays from Darren McFadden and Terrance Williams were overturned by penalties. Williams would bounce back on a third and 19 though, hauling in a catch and quickly reversing field to move the chains.
However, as we have seen many times with Williams, he proceeded to follow up the electrifying play with a miscommunication on another third down, forcing Moore to launch it downfield with nobody home and bring up another punt.
Tyrod Taylor would once again be pinned deep to the eight-yard line, but avoid multiple sacks on a third down play to get outside and rush for a first down. This ignited a Bills drive that put the game away, as Williams converted a third and one up the middle on the next series to bring up a Dallas timeout.
Three plays later, Gillislee was off to the races for a 50-yard touchdown – extending the lead to 16-6. Lucky Whitehead would fumble the ensuing kickoff to seal the deal, and give the Bills a ten point win as they improved to 7-8.
They will host the Jets to end their season next week. The 4-11 Cowboys, who moved up a spot in the draft order to fourth overall, will end their season at home as well – against the division-winning Washington Redskins.