Bills vs. Cowboys live-blog
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • November 13, 2011 @ 1:35pm
————-End of Game, 44-7 Dallas—————
1:30 —Jackson scraps his way for five yards on first down—2nd and 5 from the 7. I disagree with Phil Simms, who says that the Bills should be treated kindly this week after their performance today after Gailey came down hard on them after the Jets game. If the Bills had shown any kind of fire today, then maybe, but there’s been very little competitive energy. Fitzpatrick just threw another interception—this one to Frank Walker—and the Cowboys will kneel to end the game.
2:00—Stevie Johnson is ushered to the locker room with a shoulder injury. Buffalo’s stars—Eric Wood and now Johnson—are beaten up. Naaman Roosevelt reels in a pretty over-the-shoulder pass from Fitzpatrick for a first down. Ball on the DAL 11.
2:30—It feels like an eternity since David Nelson scored the touchdown and ran over to hug his girlfriend, Kelsi, the Cowboys’ cheerleader. Nelson snags a pass from Fitzpatrick to set up 3rd and 1 from the DAL 35, and Fitzy sneaks up the middle for the first down. Two minute warning now.
3:28—Electrifying run into Dallas territory by Fred Jackson, who, aside from the lost fumble when the game was no longer in doubt, has been solid today. 12 rushes for 110 yards for Freddy.
4:11—Pass interference on Terrence Newman vs. Stevie Johnson results in a first down for the Bills at their own 36.
4:54—The Bills fall to 5-4 on the season, and the losing skid has reached two games. If there’s a glimmer of light in the future, it’s next week’s match-up against the 1-7 Miami Dolphins. Sparano’s team is winning against Washington right now, 20-9, however, so it’s possible that next week will be a real battle as well.
4:54—Gosh, this is a disaster. Fitzpatrick threw blindly into double coverage, leading to a pick-six for Terrence Newman—his second interception of the day. 44-7 Dallas after the pick returned for a touchdown. We may see Tyler Thigpen for the next drive, as Fitzpatrick hasn’t been able to do anything right today.
7:07—Bailey’s kick is good, making the score 37-7 Cowboys. The updates will become less and less frequent at the tail end of this blowout.
7:07—This game is almost a mirror image of the Bills’ 41-7 win over Kansas City in Week 1, except the Bills are on the wrong end of this one. Dallas owner Jerry Jones is probably chuckling to himself now, having fired Chan Gailey over a decade ago. It’s tough to blame Gailey’s play-calling, as George Edwards’ defense wasn’t motivated or prepared. Dan Bailey jogs on to try a 30 yard field goal.
8:43—Fiammetta deserves a ton of credit for Murray’s performance—the offensive line does, too. Whenever a linebacker charges up the middle in run defense, Fiammetta flattens him. Murray’s down to the BUF 20 after another shifty, juke-laden run for 14 yards.
9:40—Tony Fiammetta is a beast of a lead-blocker. He just met Kelvin Sheppard at the point of attack and stymied his progress, allowing Phillip Tanner to come close to the first down marker. The chain gang is out on the field to measure—it’s a first down.
11:35—17 carries for 106 yards now for Murray after a 12 yard run in which he steamrolled Drayton Florence, who’s been atrocious today. Aside from maybe Justin Rogers, the Bills don’t really have any alternatives in the secondary. Hopefully Aaron Williams, the rookie from Texas, can return soon from his serious collarbone injury. Williams is big, physical—but his instincts aren’t as refined as they should be.
12:53—The ruling is overturned—Cowboys’ ball at their own 28. Fred Jackson’s fumble is his second in the last two games—he’s normally as sure-handed as they come. Murray pounds up to the 34 for a six yard run—there are noisy collisions whenever Murray runs—reminiscent of the noise that Adrian Peterson creates at contact. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that they’re both Sooners.
13:42—Play-action frees Scott Chandler down the right side—another first down to the Cowboys’ 38. On the next play, Fred Jackson scoots away from a tackler but fails to secure the ball at the end—Sensabaugh’s hit knocked the ball loose, and Dallas recovered. The ruling on the field is that Jackson was down by contact, but look for it to be over-turned, as it was pretty clear the ball was coming out long before he touched the turf.
14:55—Stevie Johnson is clearly playing at less than 100 percent. He jogged that route half-heartedly, leading to the ball slipping through his fingers on the slant. Donald Jones sneaks behind a corner and hauls in Fitzpatrick’s pass before getting popped by two defenders. First down, Buffalo.
—————End of 3rd Quarter, 34-7 Dallas—————
:10—Kraig Urbik enters the game at center for Buffalo, replacing Wood. Fred Jackson dashes up the middle for a first down run, but Buffalo faces a monster deficit entering the fourth quarter.
:35—DeMarco Murray just hurdled Jairus Byrd in mid-air on a 3rd and 16 run—he’s well short, however. Dan Bailey will attempt a 36 yard field goal attempt—and that one’s good too. 34-7 as Dallas comes up with three more points after the Fitzpatrick/Jones turnover.
2:05—Swing pass to DeMarco Murray is snuffed out and blown up by Nick Barnett, Buffalo’s feisty middle linebacker. Five yard loss—2nd and 15 from the BUF 28.
2:14—To add injury to insult, Eric Wood hobbles slowly off the field after landing awkwardly on his leg—appears to be one of those dreaded non-contact injuries. DeMarcus Ware bumped Wood gently, throwing him off-balance—he clutched his knee.
2:14 —Fitzpatrick wings the ball off his back-foot for Donald Jones, who can only get his fingertips on the ball—it deflects into mid-air, and Terrence Newman intercepts the tip with ease. Dallas takes over at the Buffalo 25 after the turnover. The long day continues.
2:25—I don’t think anyone expected this one to be such a blowout. The secondary has been woeful for Buffalo—not the first time this year that McKelvin and Florence have been torched, though. Buffalo will start at its own 20.
2:33—3rd and 12 for the Cowboys—Romo connects with Laurent Robinson on a comeback route, but the play is well short of the first down. Dan Bailey will try a field goal from 45 yards out—it’s good! 31-7 Dallas.
4:11—Two more long completions for the Cowboys, as Romo hooks up with Bryant over the middle and then Ogletree on a quick slant that Spencer Johnson failed miserably in defending. The whole “Johnson as weakside linebacker” experiment is rather laughable. 2nd and 9 for Dallas from the BUF 34. Great play to defend the draw by Kellen Heard, the Bills’ training camp sensation as a defensive tackle.
5:49—Buffalo Bills special teamer Chris White is carted off the field with an injury.
7:08—The score remains 28-7 in favor of Dallas after a scoreless first segment of the third quarter. Buffalo’s offense looks listless and disorganized—the strange choice to throw to the end zone on 4th and 2 from the DAL 23 should be blamed on Gailey, but when you’re down by such a margin, the chance wasn’t a terrible one, I suppose.
7:08—Great hit by Gerald Sensabaugh on Stevie Johnson’s attempt for yards after the catch. 3rd and 3 from the BUF 23. Fitzpatrick scrambles right and throws low to Donald Jones, who makes the grab but is a yard short—sure tackle by Orlando Scandrick holds him at bay. Moorman to punt again.
7:29—Dallas’ Josh Brent jumps into the neutral zone and makes contact with the Bills’ line—flags are down. 1st and 5 for Buffalo. Fitzpatrick overthrows a wide-open Donald Jones down the middle of the field—unclear if the fault is with the receiver, as Jim Nantz suggests, or with Fitzpatrick, who put too much oomph behind his throw.
7:38—Searcy sees a golden opportunity for a pick-six, but Romo’s errant pass bobbles off his hands and harmlessly to the ground. The Bills’ desperately needed a momentum-changing play, and that could have been it. Still, Buffalo stopped the Dallas drive—a big accomplishment in this game—and the visitors take over at their own 16.
8:13 —Another powerful hit in run support by Byrd, who holds Tanner to only a two yard gain. 2nd and 8 from the DAL 32. Da’Norris Searcy, in the game for George Wilson—shaken up with a stinger, blitzes Romo from the right. Again, Romo spins free and fires a pass that’s incomplete for Witten. 3rd and 8 now.
9:35—Murray’s back in the huddle, but he has a scary moment on his first carry of the half. Murray bulled his way for eight yards, but coughed up the ball as a result of Jairus Byrd’s hit. Murray recovered his own fumble. Phillip Tanner chugs up the middle for the first down.
9:51—Buffalo strangely throws to the end zone on 4th and 2 from the DAL 23, and the ball slips through Donald Jones’ reach against Alan Ball. The throw was a little high—would have been a very tough catch for the 6’0 Jones. Dallas takes over on downs—it’ll be interesting to see if DeMarco Murray returns to the lineup after his late-first half injury.
10:43 —Jackson loses three yards on the next play—Stevie Johnson, on third down, latches on to a Fitzy pass, but Gerald Sensabaugh lays the thunder on the receiver, stopping him two yards short of the first down.
12:26 —Fred Jackson cannot be stopped! Excellent block by Eric Wood on Victor Butler, carving a hole for Jackson to sprint 20 yards through. Fitzpatrick scrambles up the middle for five—it’s 2nd and 5 at the DAL 20. Two huge runs on this drive by Jackson, who’s running with more power and confidence than he did in the first half.
13:12 —Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett was a history major! Get some, history majors of the world. The Cowboys blitz seven on 3rd and 8—Donald Jones works his way back to the quarterback, hauls in the pass and sneaks past the first down marker. 1st and 10 at the DAL 44.
14:06—Fred Jackson finally gets some space—dragging defenders at the end of the run for a 13 yard gain. 2nd and 8 now after another short Jackson run—ball on the BUF 47. Another weakside blitz by a cornerback—Orlando Scandrick this time—and the Bills get lucky again as Fitzpatrick’s hand was moving forward when he was hit by the blitzer. 3rd and 8 now, as Buffalo just dodged a turnover.
14:59—Buffalo loses the challenge, and thus a timeout. C.J. Spiller, lined up as a receiver, beat Alan Ball badly on a streak route, but he couldn’t handle the pass—largely because he lost his footing. Fortunately for the Bills, DeMarcus Ware is caught with a personal foul—illegal blow to the head of Fitzpatrick.
14:59 —A bad sign? Bills’ safety George Wilson leads the team in tackles with eight, while cornerback Terrence McGee is second with six. Never a good omen when your secondary is making the majority of the stops.
14:59—Almost a smart play by Brad Smith on the kick return—if he received the ball with his foot out of bounds, the ball would be placed on the 40 yard line (the result when a kickoff flies out of bounds). The ruling on the field, however, is that Smith received the ball in-bounds and then stepped out of bounds. As it stands, the Bills will start at their own 17.
15:00—The Bills will receive to start the second half, desperate for a touchdown to whittle away at the Cowboys’ three touchdown lead.
Halftime—No catches in the first half for Stevie Johnson; five apiece for Jason Witten and Dez Bryant.
Halftime—Murray walked to the locker room early, just before the half—the issue appears to be with his arm, as he landed on it awkwardly after the 26 yard jaunt.
————-Halftime, 28-7 Dallas—————
:09—DeMarco Murray gets caught in a cluster of defenders to the right of the line of scrimmage, but he slips out of the mess and finds space down the left sideline for 25 yards. It’s been that kind of an afternoon for the Bills. 1st and 10 for the Cowboys at their own 38—only nine seconds left, though.
:33 —Moorman punts the ball away after the Bills go three and out. Fair catch at the DAL 11after Moorman’s 60 yard boot.
:40—Fitzpatrick nearly turns the ball over on second down of the next series, as DeMarcus Ware tips the pass at the line of scrimmage—safety Alan Ball cannot react in time to corral the pick, however.
1:03 —Buffalo has no collective heart today. Kyle Williams’ absence is noticeable—there’s hardly any pressure on Romo up the middle, and we haven’t heard a peep from Marcell Dareus yet. The routes by the Dallas receivers are crisp and efficient, and Buffalo’s beleaguered secondary is playing catch-up. What can Gailey even say at halftime? The Bills are getting trampled in all phases of the game.
1:03—Romo hands to Murray up the middle, and he’s in without a problem from one yard out. 28-7 Dallas—great lead block by Tony Fiammetta, the fullback from Syracuse.
1:56—Romo is on a roll right now—he just fired a strike to Dez Bryant—right in stride—and the ‘Boys convert a 3rd and 6. First and goal for Dallas at the BUF 7. Murray burrows to the three yard line, but the referee throws a flag by the pile—holding on Torell Troup of the Bills! Automatic first down, and the ball is just outside the 1.
2:00—Buffalo’s been out-gained 273 to 91 overall, exactly 3:1 in ratio. That’s…not very good.
2:47—A quick throw to Dez Bryant on the outside is caught, but McGee brings him down with a sure tackle again. 2nd and 10 from the BUF 23. Phillip Tanner bulls his way up the middle for three yards—we’re at the two minute warning.
3:31 —Witten posts up again just beyond the first down marker, and Romo hits him again. Bryan Scott is helpless on the play. The Dallas offense is humming along, and Romo’s had an eternity to throw in the pocket.
4:11—Stepping up in run support, Terrence McGee cuts down Murray just outside the right numbers, setting up another third and short. The Cowboys haven’t been stopped on third down yet—they’re 5-5.
5:42—Outstanding throw by Romo to Jason Witten, who found space between the linebackers and the safeties, good for a gain down to the BUF 40. Romo hangs in the pocket, pumpfakes and then checks down to Dez Bryant—fine open-field tackle by Florence to prevent another large chunk of yardage.
6:11—2nd and 6 from the DAL 43, and Romo finally throws his first incompletion on his 14th throw. What a start by the Dallas quarterback.
7:27—Danny Batten wraps up DeMarco Murray on a screen pass—3rd and 8 upcoming for Dallas from its own 22. The Bills’ D can’t finish the stop, however, as Romo connects with Murray underneath for a 17 yard gain—solid block by Witten added another seven or eight yards to the catch.
8:24—Had to feel a little sympathy for Kelsi Reich, Nelson’s girlfriend, who looked happy but thoroughly confused on how she should react to Nelson’s celebration.
8:24 —Fitzpatrick rolls to his right again—a similar play to the incompletion, but this time he hooks up with David Nelson in the end zone for the three yard TD. As his celebration, Nelson sprints to the Cowboys’ cheerleading squad and hands his girlfriend the football, giving her a quick hug in the process. I’m not sure if it’s touching or awkward, but it’s a TD nonetheless. 21-7 Dallas.
8:45—Jackson doesn’t see any green up the middle, so he bounces outside to the left for 19 yards—poor gap discipline by the Cowboys. On first and goal from the DAL 3, David Nelson can’t hang onto a throw in the right corner of the end zone—fine coverage by Alan Ball to swat the pass away.
9:45—Fitzpatrick hurls his best throw of the game on a crossing pattern to tight end Scott Chandler for a first down to the DAL 22. Great hands from the 6’6 tight end, and an even better throw.
10:04—Running for his life, Fitzpatrick rumbles for four yards—but the reason that Ware was in the backfield was because he mistimed the snap—offsides, five yards granted to Buffalo as a result. 2nd and 4 now from the DAL 41.
11:35—Buffalo musters a first down after a throw to the right sideline to David Nelson and a short Jackson run. Stevie Johnson, sick for much of the week, draws a pass interference penalty on Terrence Newman, who arrived a little too early. 21 yard penalty—first and 10 for Buffalo from the DAL 46. As usual, C.J. Spiller gains only a yard on a run up the middle.
12:17—Buffalo should really consider dropping more men in coverage, because the current crop of cornerbacks is allergic to covering right now. 11-11 for 179 yards and three TDs for Romo, good for a perfect 158.3 QB rating.
12:18—Good lord. Drayton Florence was just burned unbelievably, and a perfect throw to Laurent Robinson by Tony Romo resulted in the receiver’s second TD of the game, this one from 58 yards away. 21-0 Dallas after Romo’s third scoring pass of the game.
12:26—The Cowboys will start at their own 42 after the Bills came up empty on their first promising possession. It’s possible that Buffalo isn’t attacking downfield simply because the coaching staff doesn’t trust the offensive line to protect for more than 2-3 seconds.
14:29—Jackson storms off right tackle for three yards. Empty backfield on the next play with Jackson lined up in the slot—Freddy snatches Fitz’s quick toss, but he’s brought down for a loss. 3rd and 9 now from the DAL 35. Another screen to Jackson, and there’s nothing brewing for Buffalo. Fitzpatrick seems really hesitant to attack down the field. Dave Rayner will try a 52 yard field goal attempt—it’s not even close, wide left.
14:52—Fitzpatrick scrambles up the middle for 12 yards, and there’s an illegal use of hands on a Dallas o-lineman vs. the Bills’ Chad Rinehart, tacking on another five yards to the end of the run. First and 10 Buffalo from the DAL 36.
15:00—Forgettable first 15 minutes for the Bills, who were decimated by the Cowboys through the air and on the ground. DeMarco Murray looks like the real deal, and he’s both elusive and powerful—and a competent receiver. That’s every-down back ability right there.
—————End of First Quarter, 14-0 Dallas—————-
:06—Out of the Wildcat on third and 1, Brad Smith plows forward for what looks like a first down—it doesn’t matter, however, as the Cowboys had 12 men on the field. That’s illegal! First down for the Bills from the BUF 47.
1:46—1st and 15 from the BUF 28. Sean Lee hauls down Fred Jackson on a toss to right flat—short gain, and there’s a brief tussle between Terence Newman and Stevie Johnson near the Bills’ sideline—both players had a grasp of the other’s face-mask. 3rd and 1 after a well-designed WR screen to Donald Jones.
3:01—Fred Jackson picks up three on first down, and he’s brought down by Sean Lee, the linebacker with a cast on his wrist. Fitzpatrick takes a three step drop and fires to David Nelson along the right sideline—it looked like Nelson bobbled the ball briefly, but the official deems it complete. C.J. Spiller’s whistled for illegal motion before the ensuing play, however.
3:05—It’s a little staggering how poor the Bills’ coverage has been—McKelvin, McGee and Florence have all been victimized at one point today. Was that David Nelson’s girlfriend dancing there for the Cowboys’ cheerleaders? That story made news in the Buffalo community this week.
3:05—The Cowboys are dissecting the Bills’ D with surgical precision—there doesn’t seem to be much fight in this Buffalo squad today, for whatever reason. I can’t believe the 27-11 loss to the Jets last Sunday was that deflating, but it appears that the team hasn’t recovered. Can they find a sense of urgency down two scores in the first quarter?
3:05—The Bills are getting shellacked in the early-going. Romo spins away from Bryan Scott’s blitz and spots a wide open Laurent Robinson in the back of the end zone. Drayton Florence shakes his head in disgust after Robinson easily makes the TD catch from five yards out. 14-0 Dallas.
4:28 —On first and goal from the 10, a play-action fake by Romo leads to a quick throw to Witten in the flat—Jairus Byrd read it well, however, holding Witten to a measly three yards. A draw to Murray nets two more, setting up 3rd and goal from the BUF 5. Romo hasn’t thrown an incompletion yet—he’s 9 for 9.
5:40 —Jason Witten posts up on the considerably smaller Drayton Florence just past the first down marker, and Romo hits his favorite tight end in the numbers. Another new set of downs at the Buffalo 23. Romo looks to his right for a stop route to Bryant, who slides to his knees to haul the pass in outside the numbers.
6:47—Kellen Heard is over-eager at the line of scrimmage, encroaching and handing Dallas five more yards. 2nd and 2 now from the BUF 27. Phillip Tanner, Murray’s backup, is clobbered by Alex Carrington. 3rd and 3 now from the BUF 28.
7:54—Romo decides to spray a short pass to Murray in the flat after scanning his downfield options—Murray smashes head-on with Terrence McGee for another first down.
9:42 —DeMarco Murray rumbles for four yards on first down, then Romo hits Martellus Bennett in the seam for eight yards and a first down. The slippery Murray continues to gain yards at will with a seven yard dart to the left. 2nd and 3 from the DAL 41. Sharp cut by Murray on the draw allowed him to maneuver past Bryan Scott—who badly missed the tackle—and Dallas trots easily down to the BUF 46.
10:40—The league couldn’t do better than Enrique Iglesias as the halftime performer for Thanksgiving football? Troubling. Maybe Anna Kournikova will be there, though, and that’d make it all better.
10:52—No protection to speak of on the first series for Buffalo, as it’s a little surprising that the Bills chose to throw on all three downs. The big loss on the sack on first down certainly played a role in the play-calling, but it’s amazing how out-schemed the Bills were on that first drive.
10:52—Cornerback Frank Walker blitzed on third down, and Bills’ fill-in left tackle Andy Levitre missed the blitzer and opted to double-team inside. Walker hit Fitzpatrick immediately as the quarterback released the football—fortunately for the Bills, his hand was moving forward and the pass was ruled incomplete. Moorman punts, and Dallas is whistled for an illegal block in the back.
12:08—CBS is killin’ it with all these “Ware” puns. “You have to be aware of Ware!” Give me a break. Anyhow, Ware burst in on the first play from scrimmage for a ten yard sack on Fitzpatrick. The feared pass rusher was unaccounted for sprinting past left tackle Andy Levitre.
12:12—Bizarre start in Tampa Bay, as the Houston Texans are on top 6-0 after an 80 yard toss from Schaub to Jacoby Jones on the first play from scrimmage. Neil Rackers, so excited and shocked after the immediate score, promptly missed the extra point.
12:12—It wasn’t a bad throw by Romo, but it wasn’t perfect, either—McKelvin had a chance to make a play on the football, but he was simply out-jumped and too weak to battle with Bryant in the air. On the first drive, Buffalo’s cornerbacks couldn’t contain their assignments one vs. one, and there wasn’t much help over the top.
12:12—This Leodis McKelvin vs. Dez Bryant match-up is just not going to work for Buffalo. Streaking down the right side, Bryant out-jumped McKelvin for the football—touchdown, Dallas! The 34-yd TD pass from Romo to Bryant pits Dallas to a 7-0 edge.
12:56—In single coverage against Terrence McGee, Jesse Holley rises above his defender to haul in Romo’s pass for 26 yards and a first down to the BUF 34. It was Holley that beat San Francisco with a TD catch late in the game.
15:00—Quick screen to DeMarco Murray—Montrae Holland squashed Nick Barnett on the outside, allowing Murray to pick up 15 around the left side. Ball on the DAL 39 after a short run by Murray. McGee reads the quick out to Witten and stuffs him for no gain. 3rd down!
Pre-game—Obviously, the Bills’ offensive line has a significant challenge in blocking DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys’ Pro Bowl edge-rusher. Ware’s second in the NFL in sacks with 12, one behind league-leader Jared Allen. Buffalo’s Dave Rayner will kick off—Rian Lindell was injured last week against the Jets (he’ll miss 4-6 weeks).
Pre-game—Finally feeling better after a rib injury and punctured lung sustained against San Francisco in Week 2, Romo threw for two scores and didn’t throw a pick in last week’s 23-13 win over Seattle. Has he turned a corner?
Pre-game—When I said that the Cowboys might be the league’s most unpredictable team, much of Dallas’ inconsistency falls on quarterback Tony Romo, the signal-caller who may dominate for short spans before making a crucial error late in games. Without his favorite wide receiver target—Austin—watch for Romo to key on tight end Jason Witten, as the Bills tend to concede massive games to opposing tight ends.
Pre-game —Miles Austin and Felix Jones will both miss today’s contest for Dallas, and journeyman Laurent Robinson and flashy rookie DeMarco Murray will step in for them, respectively. Murray’s been exceptional in Jones’ absence, churning out 466 yards rushing in the last three games. Undervalued out of Oklahoma (3rd round pick), the 6’0, 227 pound feature back has averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Since Kyle Williams is out for the season and strongside ‘backer Chris Kelsay remains on the shelf, the Bills’ run defense is vulnerable to a hot back.
Pre-game—The Cowboys’ run defense, trampled by LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch the last two weeks, welcomes back Sean Lee, the defense’s best player so far this season. His dislocated wrist will be heavily bandaged, however, so he’s certainly not 100%. Expect Fred Jackson to continue his MVP caliber season today.
Pre-game—The 5-3 Buffalo Bills face an important test today against the 4-4 Dallas Cowboys, perhaps the most unpredictable team in the entire NFC.