1. A signature win for the McDermott era
From the very beginning his mantra was 'Trust the Process.' Head coach Sean McDermott's theme for the 2019 season was 'The Climb.' The defense was already there, but with nine new players in the starting 11 on offense, it took a little time to jell. But in the last two weeks you could see the consistency and momentum building on that side of the ball. It all culminated in what to this point was the biggest win in the McDermott era, a convincing Thanksgiving Day victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
"It's great to be part of this football team," McDermott said. "A great effort coming down here. Not an easy place to play on Thanksgiving against a good football team. A well-coached football team. So just real proud of the guys and real thankful to be a part of this."
Buffalo's 26-15 throttling of the Cowboys served as notice that the Bills are not a hollow nine-win team that has played a weak schedule, but one that will need to be reckoned with going forward.
Josh Allen downplayed it calling it win number nine and nothing more, but his emotion after converting a botched 4th-and-1 snap with an emphatic signal that he got the first down was a sign that this team doesn't care who they're playing. They're playing to win.
"It was a big first down and how it happened on fourth and short," said Allen. "Fumbling the snap, I've got to do a better job of that and get the ball to our running back, but I wanted it really bad."
So did the rest of his teammates.
After Dallas' number one passing offense scored a touchdown on their opening drive, Buffalo's offense rattled off 26 straight points with the Bills defense settling in, making some adjustments to effectively keep the Cowboys attack off the scoreboard for the next eight possessions, which included a pair of takeaways.
"Give the coaches credit," McDermott said. "They put together a really good game plan. It worked. Going back to the bye week we had looked at at least one phase of Dallas. So it gave us a bit of a head start and the coaches put a real good game plan together for the players with the short week in mind to let them execute at a high level and they did that."
Too many times in the past Bills teams have started fast but petered out by the time the holidays rolled around. This time around, the offensive line is coming together, Josh Allen is making bigger and bigger strides every week, Devin Singletary is demonstrating he can be a feature back and Buffalo's offense has an identity of changing tempo whenever it suits them.
But the quintessential representation of what Bills football is under McDermott is what was witnessed on Josh Allen's 15-yard touchdown run. Top wide receiver John Brown, who is among the league leaders in receiving yards, locked onto his defender at the three-yard line when he saw Allen take off in his direction.
He not only got in the way, he battled and fought until he put the Dallas defensive back on the ground as Allen reached the front right corner of the end zone untouched for a touchdown.
"It's a team. You go in with a game plan we ask the guys to do things and they don't flinch," McDermott said. "Whatever you need me to do coach and that's the response we get and it's refreshing. It's a team put together of guys who care about one another. They're willing to work hard. We're not where we need to be yet. This is a step. I'm extremely proud of guys."
2. Heck of a homecoming for Cole Beasley
Cole Beasley downplayed the game all week long. He didn't want to make the Bills game against Dallas about him. But to put up 110 receiving yards on six receptions and a touchdown was a homecoming he was all too happy to take and his teammates were happy to deliver what was likely one of the most meaningful regular season victories of his career.
For Beasley, a Texas native, who played his college ball at SMU, it was his first 100-yard receiving game since Oct. 14, 2018 while a member of the Cowboys against Jacksonville when he had 101 yards on nine receptions and a pair of scores.
"It feels great, man," Beasley said. "I'm just glad I'm in a place (where) coaches believe in me, teammates believe in me and they give me opportunities to do what I do. I was telling everybody before the game, I'm just glad I'm on this side (of the field) while we're here. It's been a great experience and everybody else played their butts off and got win number 9. That's the most important thing, so I'm just glad to take another step forward."
His teammates knew that the Cowboys didn't even give him a respectable free agent offer despite his six solid seasons of production in their uniform. So as they piled into Buffalo's locker room following their statement win, the team lifted Beasley up above them as crowd-surfed him across the locker room to hoots and hollers as the team celebrated with him.
"Extremely proud of Cole and happy for him," said McDermott. "He's worked hard. We're happy to have him on our team and he said that to me before the game. I'm just grateful for him and his mindset as well for what he stands for and what he comes from. He has a great family that supports him. He's just one piece, but there are a lot of other stories in our locker room of guys like Cole.
"Maybe it didn't work out in one spot, but it works out in Buffalo and that's really the culture we're trying to build where guys come to Buffalo whether it's from college or from another team and become the best version of themselves."
Mission accomplished on Sunday.
Scroll through to view the top photos of the Buffalo Bills celebrating following a 26-15 win against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13.
3. D-line continues playmaking ways
Buffalo's defensive line knew they were facing the number one passing offense in football. And though the Cowboys rolled up some yards in the passing game, the Bills d-line made the game-changing plays on Thanksgiving.
After an opening scoring drive by Dallas to go up 7-0, Buffalo's defense essentially shut the door on one of the highest-scoring teams in the league.
"The first drive we knew we were going to have to weather the storm just because of the situation and playing here on Thanksgiving against a good football team. So they came down the first drive and they had us on our heels a little bit and we've been through that before (Week 2 vs. Giants)," McDermott said. "We settled in and made adjustments and that's what defensively Leslie and his staff did. The players were great about giving us feedback on the sideline of what was going on. Whenever that happens it's a good dynamic for us."
Ed Oliver registered a pair of sacks including a forced fumble that was recovered by Trent Murphy and an interception by Star Lotulelei.
"That was the first one of my pro career," said a smiling Lotulelei who also got a hand on Brett Maher's 35-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half to force it wide.
Buffalo only managed seven points off turnovers, but the extra possessions gave the Bills offense the opportunity to utilize their no huddle and wear down the Dallas defense.
By the end of the game, the defense registered four sacks with Shaq Lawson with Jordan Phillips and Trent Murphy notching the others, seven quarterback hits, the interception, nine pass breakups and three forced fumbles. But it was the defensive line that set the tone.
"Our defensive line has been playing good ball the last couple of weeks," said McDermott. "Just physical football and they've really bonded together and formed an identity which is good to see. They're playing intense football."
Bills fans traveled from near and far to support the team during their Week 13 game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Scroll through to see photos of Bills fans cheering the team on!