Cowboys 44, Bills 7: Buffalo Hunting

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Dez does his best Alvin
Harper impersonation.

The Cowboys are growing up.  Their statistical superiority last week could be downplayed because it came against a struggling Seahawks team.  Today, they made a stuttering — and division leading — Bills team look pedestrian, and they did it in old school Cowboys style.

First, Jason Garrett dusted off the game plans he used so well in 2007, when he had a healthy o-line and a young Marion Barber.  The same kind of game plan that the Triplets Cowboys ran for Norv Turner and Ernie Zampese.  Garrett leaned on the finally-healthy right arm and rib cage of Tony Romo, who was 12 for 12 with three touchdown passes early in the 2nd quarter.  Romo was nearly perfect in the first half, throwing 20 for 23 with those three scores, as Dallas romped to a 28-7 halftime lead.

The fourth came on a one-yard goal line run just before half, and it seems to give the young offensive line a booster shot.  Dallas threw the ball just three times in the second half, as Garrett was able to feed DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner heavy carries.  They responded, taking a variety of counters and toss plays wide of the Bills front for big gains.  This let Dallas sustain long, time-consuming drives and end the contest in old-school time.  The game time was done well under three hours, the way those Emmitt-heavy games were back in the ’90s.

The key was the best execution of the year.  The line took no penalties.  Nothing to stop rhythm and put the team in 1st and 20.  It pass protected Tony Romo very well.  And it run-blocked effectively.  They found three plays, the lead draw, the toss, and the counter, which worked for 5 yards nearly every time they were called.  When Dallas was in 2nd and 10, Garrett knew he could run a draw and get 5 or 6.  In 3rd-and-5 he had the entire pass play menu at his disposal.  He could throw up the field to the wideouts.  He could turn to old-reliable Jason Witten.  He could even throw a flare to Murray and know that a lowered shoulder could convert the play and move the chains.

Clean play, and faster execution makes the OC look a lot, lot smarter.

On defense, Rob Ryan stayed with what he’s done all year, but also got better execution.  He opened in nickel packages, to negate Buffalo’s spread passing game.  He challenged his front six players to take on blockers and tackle better.  Nickel LBs like Frank Walker and Barry Church did a superb job stopping the shallow crossing routes the Bills like.

They, Sean Lee and the safeties Abe Elam and Gerald Sensabaugh attacked the short routes and running back Fred Jackson, denying the big play.   Jackson made some big runs, but he never ripped off a series of solid runs.  This put Buffalo in a lot of 3rd-and-longs, and the pass rush forced Ryan Fitzpatrick into several hurried, off-target throws.

It was a perfect weekend for the yo-yo 2011 Cowboys to turn back the clock.  With three sub .500 teams on the horizon, more Sunday-style execution could finally bring the Cowboys that long sought winning streak.

Notes:

— It was a game of little things adding up to a big win.  Dez Bryant had a clean game.  No drops, and a big play five scrimmage plays into the contest, when he reached over a Bills corner’s helmet to snag a Tony Romo pass for a score.

— It was also another huge weekend for Laurent Robinson, who has blown up almost as quickly as Miles Austin did in 2009.   This is a former 2nd round pick, so he’s got talent.  He and Tony Romo have developed an almost instant rapport and Robinson has the deep speed to spell the injured Miles Austin.

— A big week for the interior line of Holland, Costa and Kosier.  The Bills don’t have an A-grade rush, but they kept big-time rookie Marcell Dareus quiet.

— Terence Newman has bounced back from his lost evening in Seattle with two big games.  He’s got some spring in his legs and is driving well on the football.

— It also takes a little luck.  Dallas was never in danger of losing the games, but when the Bills beat them with calls, the ball bounced Dallas’ way.  Sensabaugh undid a big Jackson run by forcing a fumble and Fitzpatrick missed a wide open C.J. Spiller, who got way behind Alan Ball on a go route.

— a nod of appreciation to Dan Bailey, who has made me forget the kicking game.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you kindly.

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Rafael Vela

Rafael Vela

Started covering Dallas Cowboys @ TheBoys.com in '95 and '96. Two more stops along the way and here I am. Senior Analyst for SportsTalkLine.com
  • Jarhead

    well bloggers, the iggles have just lost to the cards at home.

    Lets go 9ers.  I know it is hard old-schoolers, but we need the 9ers to beat the gints in SF today.

    Damn, im hating that lions loss more and more. we should be 6-3 right now.

    Skins will be writing off their season this week. This WILL be their super bowl sunday.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IUNVOF2H3MCJSZYQJODFFFEJXM peter m

      you mean 8-1, the iggles are the only team that really beat them

  • Jarhead

    yeah, how about bailey kicking so many touchbacks today.

    gotta make joe D feel better, but lets see what he does next week on the road in DC.

    Falcons in OT, just went for it on 4th and short in their own territory and didnt get it…….

  • Milkshaker

    Finding a guy like Murray in the 3rd is the type of pickup that turns a good team into a great team. One of our scouts deserve a big bonus.

    He’s turning 2 yard gains into 5 yard gains and putting us in great down and distance situations. But then he can also gash defenses and pick up big chunks of yardage that would normally come from the air game. Real punishing runner too, along with Tanner.

    Hoping Felix comes back and looks good too. It’s a terrible year for RBs in the draft. Could inflate Felix’s value and maybe we get a good pick back for him.

  • fiverings37

    2 things Gents……

    1)Murray MUST remain as the starter.
    2) We control our own destiny, play like this and the sky is the limit.

  • Raja

    Still don’t like the run D. And why didn’t take a knee when pinned that far back just before the half. You were up by 14 with Buf getting the ball to start the 2nd half. A fumble there and a score by Buf puts them behind by a score with the ball.

    Besides the above no quibbles otherwise.

    • Jarhead

      thats a good question. if the bills call TO after the first kneel, i could see them running a play, but i doubt gailey does that.

      of course, murray could have just gone down too. my heart stopped when he got dinged on that last play.

    • Milkshaker

      They need to change Sean Lee’s cast from a q-tip to a hook or something. He’s still in the right spot, but he’d get an arm on a guy and just slide off the runner. 

  • Cselliott92

    Hey!?  How come M* Tex is not the first post?  Oh yeah, he is an artifact of some anti-Cowboy media amalgamate of the Eagles-Giants-Redskins Complex.  Nothing to rail the rabble over today, Tex? Romo did miss three passes…

  • Fenix

    GREAT TEAM EFFORT

    Great JOB
    * Murray
    * Bailey
    * O-Line
    * Defense

    Romo HAS HAD to DO TOO MUCH and been crucified for it !

    I THINK IT IS A BETTER STATEMENT TO SAY

    AS THE O-LINE GOES WE GO ….

    THE DEFENSE HAS TO HOLD TOO ….

    GREAT JOB

  • Egtuna

    An o-line that executes and a legit run game results in Romo looking like Aarron Rodgers. Imagine that.

    Did bradie James get more than 15 snaps today?

    Scandrick is playing really well as are the safeties.

    “DavId” Bailey?

    • Rafael Vela

      Yeah, a morphed David Buehler and Dan Bailey.  

      Or, I confused him with David Bailey, the photographer.  Or, I’m just losing my mind.  

  • Edubz

    Murray’s wiggle, foot speed, and vision getting better. It would make an interesting post to understand how he didn’t go in the first. He’s a star.

    • Raja

      I guess the scouting world all came to the same conclusion that Bunting did- they didn’t see Murray breaking tackles in college. Simms was saying that Murray felt NE and Philly were going to draft him. Just maybe if Cowboys don’t draft him at 71 he might have become the Mallett pick for NE.

    • Zeb

      I like Murray’s patience – he waits that half-beat for a block or a hole.  Emmitt had great patience, Julius seemed to have it as a rookie and lose it. 

      Based on what I have seen so far, Murray is the better option to Felix.

  • Jarhead

    I’ve thought ball had been pretty solid this year, but they were sure going after him today. hurry back jenkins.

  • Jarhead

    9ers win gents.

    we’d be tied with the gints if not for the lions loss.

    well, we’re definitely still alive.

    get to dec at 7-4 and we’re in good shape.

    iggles go to NYG next week, then the gints go to NO the week after that.

    If we can beat the skins and fish, it will be a real interesting december!

  • fiverings37

    WHAT A DAY!! BOYS WIN AND ALL THE REST IN THE EAST LOSE!!!

  • Montecito Tex

    Dan Bailey, DeMarco Murray, Tyron Smith… the kids have Tex excited for 2015! 2/3rds of the next Triplets are in place. Kudos to the Red Genius as well.

    • BVandy

      C’mon Tex, you’ve got to give props to your least favourite QB since he did what Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach never did (complete 89% of his passes)!  He may not have won 2 or 3 championships, yet, but isn’t it time to give the kid some credit?

  • Jody

    What we have learned—-we have a running back, we have found a kicker, we have a monster at wr, we have a playmaker at wr, the o-line is improving and we have potential trade bait at rb.  We need a Ngata in the middle, got to replace the geriatric twins at lb (heal Carter heal), and a complement to Ware.  Oh, an upright healthy Tony looks pretty darn good.

  • Lanceb17

    Nice win… they played solid in all areas and didnt give a sliding team any hope.   next 3 are confidence builders, what happens after that will define their/our season.  How great would it be to end the season in the hostile meadowlnds environment on a high note? after starting it so poorly in game 1.