Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, avoiding a rush by the Bills’ Da’Norris Searcy, barely seemed to break a sweat on Sunday.
Photo courtesy: James P. McCoy /Buffalo News
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo might as well have played Sunday’s game in a tuxedo. He could have left Cowboys Stadium without taking a shower. He could have sent text messages before throwing some of his passes.
“If you get that extra half a second, the game becomes quite a bit easier,” Romo said after leading Dallas to a 44-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills. “That is a lot of times the simplicity of it.”
Romo and the Cowboys made the game look simple and the Bills’ pass defense look awful.
Romo enjoyed the most accurate passing day ever by a Bills opponent. He connected on 23 of 26 passes — 88.4 percent — for 270 yards and three touchdowns.
In sending the Bills (5-4) to their second straight ugly defeat and their third loss in four games, Dallas exposed a multitude of flaws in Buffalo’s team.
The biggest, however, is the Bills can’t generate any pressure on the quarterback.
Romo wasn’t sacked once and was barely hurried. Take away their 10-sack game against Washington, and the Bills have managed just five sacks in their other eight outings.
“Pressure, coverage, tackling, everything you do on defense needed to be better,” Bills cornerback Drayton Florence said. “The sense of urgency throughout the whole game just wasn’t there.”
“We were trying to come after him a little bit, but we were trying to pick and choose our spots,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said. “You don’t want to commit all out and leave everybody one on one in the back end back there.”
The rush linebackers who were on the field Sunday have combined for just three sacks all season. Spencer Johnson has two. Danny Batten and Arthur Moats have half a sack each. Antonio Coleman, pressed into service due to the injuries to Shawne Merriman and Chris Kelsay, has none.
So Romo sat back and picked the Bills apart. He completed 13 straight passes to open the game and went 18 for 19 in staking Dallas to a 28-7 halftime lead.
On this day, the Bills’ pass coverage was as bad as its edge rushing.
On the first Dallas touchdown, cornerback Leodis McKelvin was stride for stride down the right sideline with 6-foot-2 receiver Dez Bryant. McKelvin looked back for the ball at the right time. But Bryant reached his big body over McKelvin’s head and grabbed the ball away for a 34-yard score.
The Bills blitzed, but safety Jairus Byrd couldn’t get to Romo.
“I was in position,” McKelvin said. “I looked back at the ball and I jumped. He just made the play that I didn’t make. That’s just the way the whole game went.”
“When it’s one on one, what you don’t do with Dez is overthrow him,” Romo said. “The kid played good defense, he had him covered decent. It was Dez just being Dez, going up and getting the ball.”
On the second Dallas drive, the touchdown pass went to Laurent Robinson, from 5 yards out on a third-and-goal situation. Once again, the Bills called a big blitz and safety Bryan Scott rushed free, right up the middle at Romo. But Scott didn’t make the play. Romo made a spin move to his left, and Scott never got a finger on him. Robinson was wide open in the end zone.
Dallas’ third touchdown was a one-play drive, after new Bills kicker Dave Rayner missed a 52-yard field goal try.
On first down, Romo went deep for Robinson, who blazed past Florence down the left side of the field and was wide open for a 58-yard scoring play.
It was clear from the postgame comments that Dallas caught the Bills in the perfect defense to be vulnerable to the bomb. George Wilson, the safety on Florence’s side, bit underneath on a hitch route run by tight end Jason Witten. Florence didn’t think Robinson was going long and hesitated as the receiver blew by him.
“There was something we saw that we thought was going to be favorable, based on what they were playing,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “Laurent did a nice job of running up on the corner and beating him over the top. Jason Witten, if you watch that play closely, did a really good job of eating up the safety, as well.”
“They schemed us on that play,” Florence said. “I could have done better technique. I could have been a little bit higher on him. But that’s a play that we knew was going to come sooner or later in the game and they hit it on us.”
That made it 21-0 just 17:43 into the game.
The Bills’ offense responded with an 80-yard drive to a touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to David Nelson.
But any thoughts that this might be an epic comeback like the Bills waged against New England were snuffed out when Romo took the Cowboys to a fourth TD in four possessions to push the lead to 28-7.
Romo was 7 of 8 for 58 yards on that 80-yard march. On third downs in the first half, he was 7 of 7 for 90 yards and a TD.
“Defensively one of the biggest things these past couple weeks has been getting off the field on third down,” said Bills linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. “That’s no secret. We have to go back to the drawing board. Teams are obviously seeing something we’re doing on film. We’re not executing properly. Everything’s drawn up for us, it’s just a matter of going out and doing it. We’ve got people in third and 7s, third and 8s. You’ve got to get off the field.”
Dallas (5-4) held the Bills to just 98 yards in the first half. The Bills allowed only one sack of Fitzpatrick — on a busted assignment on the first play of the game. But Fitzpatrick was harassed repeatedly by Dallas’ pass rushers.
Fitzpatrick finished 20 of 31 for 146 yards, his lowest output of the season. Bills back Fred Jackson finished with 114 yards rushing, most in garbage time in the second half.
Worse for the Bills was the fact center Eric Wood suffered what looked like a sprained knee late in the fourth quarter. Gailey said it probably will keep him out of next week’s game in Miami.
After two straight defeats, that game is shaping up as a must-win for the Bills.
“We’re a good football team but we didn’t show it today,” Florence said. “They whipped our [butt] — that’s the bottom line.”
Courtesy: Mark Gaughan | The Buffalo News
Here are the notes compiled by the Cowboys’ after the game:
The Dallas Cowboys 37-point win (44-7) tied the 10th-largest margin of victory in team history. It was the club’s biggest win since defeating Arizona (10/22/00) by 41 points (48-7).
Dallas’ 44 points scored today were the most for the club since racking up 45 against the N.Y. Giants (9/9/07).
The Cowboys scored a touchdown on each of their first four drives today. It was the first time the club scored a touchdown on its first three drives since doing so against Seattle (11/27/08). We are looking into the last time the club managed a touchdown on each of the first four drives, and that will not be completed tonight.
Dallas’ 28 points scored in the first half today was the most for the club in the first half since scoring 28 against Detroit (10/19/03).
Dallas also converted eight-of-12 third down opportunities. The club’s 66.7 third down conversion percentage was the third-most in team history as far back that can be researched today. The top-two spots were a 72.7 percentage(eight-of-11) at Atlanta (10/29/95) and at Cleveland (9/7/08).
For the second consecutive week, the Cowboys had three interceptions in a game. It was the 13th time in franchise history Dallas had back-to-back three-interception games. The others were in 1967, 70, 73, 77, 80, 81 (twice), 82, 83, 84, 94 and 2007.
With 433 yards of offense today, the Cowboys have five games with 400-or-more yards this season. It ties the third-highest figure in team history. The highest was eight (2009), followed by six (1979, 81, 83, 2007 and 2010) and five (1966, 68, 71, 76, 78, 86 and 88).
Photo: Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said it was simply a case of “Dez just being Dez.”
That was a compliment.
Romo was referring to Bryant’s acrobatic touchdown catch over the top of Buffalo cornerback Leodis McKelvin on the team’s first possession, which he admitted was “all Dez.” McKelvin appeared to have a shot at the interception, but Bryant reached over his shoulder and ripped the ball away to give the Cowboys a quick 7-0 lead.
“I just feel like the ball is mine,” Bryant said. “I feel like that’s what every receiver should feel.”
On Sunday at least, it appeared that’s exactly how all the Cowboys receivers were feeling. With Miles Austin sidelined with a hamstring injury, Romo spread the ball around to six different targets. Bryant had six catches for 74 yards. DeMarco Murray had six for 36, and tight end Jason Witten had five for 37.
Laurent Robinson had only three catches, but two went for touchdowns on Dallas’ second and third possessions. After his 5-yard reception put the Cowboys up 14-0 late in the first quarter, Robinson blew by cornerback Drayton Florence and hauled in a 58-yard touchdown pass.
Robinson, who now has a touchdown catch in three consecutive games, continues to be one of the team’s biggest surprises this season. He has six catches of 20 or more yards in six games this season.
“It’s hard to do what Laurent has done,” Witten said. “To come in during the middle of the year at a skill position in our offense, a system that’s been in place for five years, that’s not always easy to do. … To make the plays he’s made really speaks volumes about him, his knowledge of the game and understanding coverages.”
Despite the offense’s success Sunday, Bryant is eager for Austin to return.
“Miles is one of the most explosive players in the league, and without him being in this offense, it makes a big difference,” he said. “We just have to step our game up, and I feel like we’ve done a great job of that. But we can’t wait to have him back. It will make things much easier.”
Austin told owner Jerry Jones after the game that he is working hard to get back.
“Trying to get better; trying to get back,” Austin said.
HALL OF FAME ALERT: Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten passes Ozzie Newsome for third all time in catches among TEs
Photo courtesy: Khampha Bouaphanh
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo completes a pass to Dallas Cowboys future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten.
With his five catches Sunday, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten passed Ozzie Newsome and moved into third place in all-time receptions for tight ends. Witten, who now has 666 catches and is one reception short of his eighth consecutive 50-catch season, trails only Tony Gonzalez (1,114) and Shannon Sharpe (815) on the all-time tight end receptions list.
“[Newsome] was really the staple and the foundation of what this position is all about,” Witten said of the Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer. “When you pass a guy like that, being a fan of the game, you always look up to those guys that really gave you an opportunity to do it. I’ve got a long way to go still. But it’s special to pass him.”
Witten had five catches for 37 yards.
“I’ll tell you one thing: Troy Aikman did have Jay Novacek as that safety valve, and Tony Romo has that with Witten out there, too, which is a big plus for us,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
Photo courtesy: Khampha Bouaphanh
Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee (50) takes down Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) in the third quarter in NFL football at Cowboys Stadium.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, who said watching last week’s game from the sideline was “torture,” returned to the field Sunday with a large cast covered in bubble wrap and tape on his dislocated left wrist.
Lee finished with three solo tackles and an assist. He said he is adjusting to playing with the cast and still experiencing some pain.
“I thought I tackled poorly in certain situations, from the side,” he said. “Fred Jackson’s a great back, and then I kept sliding down and wasn’t able to wrap up like I usually am. That’s something I’m going to have to maybe change up my game a little bit.”
Lee hopes not to wear the bulky cast too long.
“Right now it’s still in the healing process,” he said. “There’s still broken bones, still torn ligaments, so we still need that cast. But I’d be surprised with the way it’s healing if I need the cast all year. I think the more and more it heals, I think I’ll be able to change up the cast.”
Lee entered the game leading the team in tackles witih 73.
Photo courtesy: Khampha Bouaphanh
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman (41) returns an interception in the fourth quarter against Buffalo in NFL football at Cowboys Stadium.
Terence Newman’s two interceptions gave him six for the season, continuing an outstanding comeback season for the veteran Cowboys cornerback.
He missed the first two games with a groin injury, and in training camp, the Cowboys were trying to sign the premier free agent cornerback, Nnamdi Asomuguha.
“He’s certainly playing well,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He made a number of plays on the ball. It seems like he’s very comfortable playing in the defense, and it seems like when he has the opportunity to make plays, he’s making them.”
It was the second consecutive game with an interception for Newman. He’s done that three times in his career. His fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown was h is third career “pick-six.” And the multi-interception game was his fourth career.
His 32 interceptions tie him with Lee Roy Jordan for seventh in team history.
Frank Walker also had an interception for the Cowboys, making it back-to-back three-pick games for the team. That’s the 13th time the Cowboys have done that.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) grabs a first quarter TD pass as Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin (21) defends.
With six catches for 74 yards, including an acrobatic 34-yard touchdown catch in which he leaped over a defender, receiver Dez Bryant arguably had his best game of the season against the Lions.
He was thrown to six times in the game and caught all six.
Owner Jerry Jones has been everything the Cowboys thought he was when they drafted in last season _ a great athlete who was still rough around the edges.
The good thing, according to Jones, is that he is improving and working had to get better.
“He has been frustrating and he has been elating,” Jones said. “And so it’s exactly what we thought when we drafted him right to the T. If we didn’t plan on having a little frustration we should have gone a different direction. No surprises with him. Dez is really doing better each week, relative to what he’s doing on the practice field, and he’s growing as a man off the field.”
Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) hits a field goal in the 4th quarter. The Buffalo Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys 44-7 at Cowboys Stadium
Dan Bailey hadn’t had this much fun since his days at Oklahoma State. The rookie placekicker was one of the busiest guys on the field Sunday, booting three field goals, five extra points and nine kickoffs.
“I was telling some of the guys, ‘Man, this reminds me of college,’” Bailey said. “Obviously when I’m kicking a lot, that usually means we’re doing good as a team. It was a fun day.”
Bailey connected on field goals of 45, 36 and 31 yards and has now made 22 in a row, which is third on the Cowboys’ all-time list. Bailey’s kicking coach, Chris Boniol, had 27 straight in 1996 and 26 straight in 1995.
“I didn’t even know about it until somebody mentioned it earlier,” Bailey said of his proximity to his coach’s record. “I’m not too worried about that. Just as long as we’re putting points on the board and winning games, that’s all that matters.”
With David Buehler on injured reserve, Bailey is now handling all kickoffs. On Sunday, he had touchbacks on all four of his first-half kickoffs but allowed returns on three of his five second-half kickoffs. The Bills averaged 20.3 yards on their three returns.
“I might have been a little bit tired,” Bailey said with a smile. “There was a couple times there where we had a PAT, kickoff, interception, PAT, kickoff. But I can’t complain. It obviously means we’re doing well.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Bailey missed the opening kickoff of the second half. The ball would have gone out of bounds if Brad Smith hadn’t fielded the ball in bounds at the 17. The Bills challenged the call, saying Smith had a foot out of bounds when he fielded the kickoff, but referee Jerome Boger upheld the ruling on the field.
“That was a miss-hit,” Jones said. “That was not a deliberate attempt of a soft kick on the opening kickoff of the second half. The first thing I did was grab Joe [DeCamillis] and say, ‘Tell me….’ He said, ‘He missed it. I didn’t call it.’ But anyway, we really can say that our kicker played well today.”
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Buffalo Bills David Nelson ran down the field after scoring a touchdown and gave the ball to his girlfriend a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Kelsi Reich. Buffalo Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys 44 – 7 in a NFL game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)
ARLINGTON, Texas — Buffalo Bills receiver David Nelson caught a 3-yard touchdown pass Sunday, then went all the way to the other end of the field to hand the ball to a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
Not just any cheerleader. His girlfriend.
Nelson is dating Kelsi Reich, who is in her fourth season as a Cowboys cheerleader.
The Bills trailed 21-0 when Nelson caught his touchdown in the second quarter. After celebrating with a couple of teammates in the end zone, Nelson headed back to the Buffalo sideline and then kept going — all the way to the other end of the field where Reich was cheering for the Cowboys. Nelson handed her the ball and then gave her a hug.
Nelson was born in Dallas and went to high school in Wichita Falls.
Dallas Cowboys vs Buffalo Bills
KICKOFF at noon … today!
Watch the game on TV and listen to the Voice of the Dallas Cowboys over the airwaves.
Check The Dallas Cowboy Radio Network to find a local station.
Afterwards, listen online to the Postgame show and interviews!
After going 4-4 in their first eight games, the Cowboys begin the second half of the season when they face Buffalo on Sunday. Here is a look at how what the Cowboys need to do to beat the Bills:
Last Sunday, the dimensions of the Cowboys’ offense expanded. After weeks of moving down the field by way of short and intermediate passes, Dallas took a different approach against Seattle. The Cowboys went deep. Quarterback Tony Romo connected with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten on passing plays that covered 30 yards or more. The success the Cowboys experienced attacking the Seahawks downfield was directly related to the protection Romo received. As it did against Seattle, the Cowboys’ offensive line needs to shield Romo from the Bills’ pass rush.
Fred Jackson can run, He can catch. And, yes, he can throw. Jackson has attempted one pass in his career. The result? A 27-yard touchdown. That’s not surprising considering that almost everything Jackson has done this season has been noteworthy. The Arlington Lamar product has accumulated 1,194 yards from scrimmage and scored six touchdowns, developing into one of the NFL’s most dynamic players. He drives the Bills offense and the Cowboys know they need to stop him if they have designs on winning Sunday.
Run, run, run
Not too long ago, few would have objected if the Cowboys willfully abandoned their running game. After all, it seemed to be stuck in neutral. But the emergence of DeMarco Murray has revitalized the Cowboys’ once-sagging ground attack. The rookie has run for 466 yards in Dallas’ last three games and the Cowboys have shown they can move the ball without relying on Romo’s right arm. The Cowboys need to continue to ride Murray, a tailback that has shown he deserves to have the ball in his hands.
Be on red alert in red zone
Buffalo has shown a knack for closing drives once it gets inside its opponent’s 20-yard line. This season, the Bills have reached the red zone 28 times and have scored 18 touchdowns. Only one team, Tennessee, has had a higher rate of success in that compressed area of the field. The Cowboys know the game could hinge on their ability to keep Buffalo out of the end zone once the Bills close in on it.
Photo courtesy: AP/LM Otero
Chan Gailey, left, felt the heat almost immediately as Cowboys coach, and was fired after two seasons by Jerry Jones.
It was noon on a late July day in Wichita Falls, and it was already smokin’ hot, and I don’t mean just the weather.
“What a fraud.” “The man’s a liar.” “What a weak attempt at a cover-up.” “He should be fired right now.”
That was Chan Gailey’s “welcome” to our football world by many members of the local media, angrily filing out of an interview session held in the student center at Midwestern State University.
It was Gailey’s first training camp day as head coach of an NFL team, and that team happened to be the most high-profile franchise in the land.
And really, it was his first day as a head coach outside of dusty college map specks such as Troy State and Samford.
And a couple of years as head coach of the Birmingham Fire of the World League could not have come remotely close to preparing him for anything like this pending storm.
The night before the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp opened in 1998, there was an argument about who had “next” for a haircut in the players’ dorm.
The dispute resulted in one of the NFL’s biggest stars, Michael Irvin, taking the sharp edge of a pair of scissors and running it across the neck of a teammate, Everett McIver, who was not seriously injured but required medical attention.