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Top 3 Things We Learned

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Top 3 things we learned from Bills vs. Cowboys | Week 15


The Buffalo Bills put on a total team effort in their convincing 31-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys to improve to 8-6 on the season.

Here are the top 3 things we learned from the victory.

1 — Bills "let it rip" behind historic ground game 

James Cook had his coming out party one week ago in Kansas City in the Bills' thrilling 20-17 win.

This week he brought his encore to Orchard Park and it was a sight to behold. Cook sliced up the Dallas defense to a tune of a career-high 179 rushing yards, 42 receiving yards and two touchdowns ( 1 rec, 1 rush). It's the most scrimmage yards (221) by any Buffalo Bill in 14 seasons. 

The second-year running back succinctly described his best day as a pro. 

"I just let it rip when I get my opportunity," he said.

Cook scored once in the first half and another in the second half. He made a remarkable shoe-string touchdown grab three minutes into the second quarter to put Buffalo up 14-0. He's the first Bills running back since Thurman Thomas to have a receiving touchdown in two straight games.

"I work my tail off every day," Cook said. "So the confidence level is gonna come in practice. Once you want to practice hard, and do the things right, it's a confidence booster and it's gonna show on Sundays."

'Let it rip' is the perfect way to describe Cook's showing Sunday — and the Bills ground game as a whole. Every time Josh Allen turned to hand off the ball, a Buffalo RB was ripping through a gaping hole for a big gain. So much so that Allen only needed to complete seven passes. The Bills still scored 31 points.

"I felt like the kid who didn't do anything in the class project but got an A," Allen said postgame with a smirk. "I'll do this 10 times out of 10 times."

The Bills rushed 49 times for 266 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. 20 of those runs resulted in either a first down or a touchdown. It's the most yards the Bills have ever rushed for in a single game under Sean McDermott. 

"You need to be able to do this. You need to be able to play that way down the stretch because of weather or they're taking away your fast ball," McDermott said.

"When you run the football, though, it's not just the offensive line and the running backs. It's the tight ends. It's the wide receivers. It takes an unselfish approach, especially for a wide receiver to not get as many balls in a game like this."

Cook put the finishing touches on the 31-10 win when he burst through for a 24-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. Ad-libbing his touchdown celebration, Cook did a front flip into the end zone, the same celebration from a week ago.

"I don't know, I don't have a celebration so I did it," he laughed.

2 — The one million dollar sack

Make that two games this season that the Bills have had the highest scoring team come into Buffalo on a heater and leave town with a loss. First Miami in October off their 70-point win over Denver, followed by the Cowboys who had their five-game win streak snapped on Sunday.

Through the first three quarters, the Cowboys offense mustered just 3 points on 92 total yards, the fewest yards they've had in a game to that point since Week 9 of the 2010 season. 

"Get out on 'em. Get up on 'em and kind of make them one-dimensional," DT Ed Oliver said. "Basically what we preach all the time. I don't know. Just the game got going and it seemed like a snowball effect."

The Bills scored on their first possession, giving the defense the early opportunity to pin their ears back and play in attack mode with Dallas caught on their heels. The early aggression paid off with a first quarter sack on third down by DE Leonard Floyd to force a Dallas punt.

On the play, DT Ed Oliver brought the rush inside to collapse the pocket and force Prescott to go on the move. That space allowed for Floyd to work his way back around to eventually bring the MVP candidate to the turf.

"We was talking about that on the sideline like (Floyd) could have took one path to the quarterback but he took another path to the quarterback," Oliver explained. "And I was grabbing Dak and Dak just so happened to spin back and run right into (Floyd). But he could have followed me but he was like, "Nah, Dak's going to be over here." It's like he saw it before it actually happened. And he literally smacked Dak in the face."

That sack brough Floyd to 10.5 on the year, tying a career-high and earning him a $1 million incentive in the process. If Oliver has any say in the matter, Floyd will be getting him an early Christmas present for making sure his teammate got to be the one to make the tackle.

"Come on now. Really and truly I had him, but 77 was pushing on me and ahh had to let him go," Oliver laughed. "Christmas gon' be good. Need something."

Floyd described that play as "all timing" to get to the QB.

"I thanked God as soon as I got that one. It was one of my incentives, I had one more to get," he said.

3 — "Just right for us"

As the Bills embraced each other in the locker room postgame, head coach Sean McDermott praised the team for the way they played with a physical tone from the start.

"When it's too tough for them, it's just right for us!," McDermott told the team. 

Going back to the team's midseason skid, McDermott routinely pointed out that the Bills needed to find ways to play complementary football. That vision has manifested itself in recent weeks and was seen in full on Sunday.

The Bills executed in all phases at the highest level and it resulted in a resounding victory to keep Buffalo squarely in the playoff hunt and still a chance at the division with three games to go. 

Defensively, Dak Prescott was held to a season-low 134 passing yards. It's the first time this season he's been held to no passing TDs and one or more interceptions.

For the Buffalo offense, they became the only team in the last 30 years to have three touchdown drives of 11+ plays and 75+ yards in the first half of a game.

Josh Allen said it's up to the guys in the locker room to maintain this level of play moving forward and they all have the belief in each other to make it happen.

"That's what it feels like. But at the end of the day, again, every week is different. And any given Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Thursday, things can change. So we got to find a way to play our best ball going forward. And the confidence that this team has right now, I'd say is pretty high. But we got to go out each game day and prove it."

Check out the best photos from on the field and in the locker room following a convincing win over the Cowboys in Highmark Stadium.

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