Sunday, November 13, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 44, Bills 7
By Dan Graziano
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Some thoughts from the Dallas Cowboys' very impressive victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday:
What it means: The Cowboys now have a chance to get on a roll. Their next three matchups -- at Washington, home to Miami and at Arizona -- all look winnable. Getting this victory over a strong AFC contender -- and getting it as convincingly as they did -- sets up the Cowboys to rattle off a winning streak. If they can take advantage of this soft portion of their schedule, they have a chance to take an 8-4 record into their first meeting with the first-place Giants on Dec. 11.
Miles who? With wide receiver Miles Austin out with a hamstring injury, the Cowboys' passing game didn't miss a step. Quarterback Tony Romo was a dazzling 18-of-19 for 237 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as Dallas built a 28-7 lead. Two of the touchdown passes went to Laurent Robinson, who was already making a contribution before the Austin injury and looks to be a more-than-adequate replacement while Austin sits out. The other was to Dez Bryant, who muscled the ball away from a Buffalo defender in the end zone. Romo was sharp, accurate and did whatever he wanted to do in the pass game, and then in the second half ...
They ran it! Dallas blew a 27-3 lead earlier this season to the Detroit Lions when Romo had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the second half. But the emergence of rookie running back DeMarco Murray has given the offense a different dimension, and in this second half the Cowboys were able to grind out the clock by running the ball and methodically picking up first downs. Murray had 71 rush yards in the first half, 64 in the second and has 601 over his last four games since Felix Jones was injured. He makes the Dallas offense multidimensional.
Game ball for Rob Ryan: The Cowboys' defense coordinator designed an excellent game plan that kept Buffalo running back Fred Jackson in check in the run game and the screen game, which few teams this year have been able to do. By the second half, the Bills had to take chances throwing the ball, and Terence Newman was right there to take advantage with a pair of interceptions that turned the fourth quarter into a victory lap.
What's next: The Cowboys travel to Washington on Sunday for a game against the division-rival Redskins. Dallas won the first meeting in Week 3 by the score of 18-16 when they failed to score a touchdown, but Dan Bailey kicked six field goals. Washington has fallen on hard times since that game and lost five straight since its 3-1 start.