James Cook leads dominant rushing attack as Bills trample Cowboys 31-10

Full Screen
1 / 11

Buffalo Bills running back James Cook (4) celebrates with quarterback Josh Allen (17) after scoring touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The Bills' offense has found its legs in time to make a playoff push.

Josh Allen played the role of happy spectator by standing back and watching James Cook run left, right and up the middle as Buffalo ran away with a 31-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Recommended Videos

“I felt like the kid that didn’t do anything in a class project but got an A,” Allen said after he threw for just 94 yards, with a touchdown passing and one rushing. “But I’ll do this 10 times out of 10 times, man. Like, keep going.”

A matchup of two of the NFL’s top-scoring quarterbacks — Allen entered the week with 35 total touchdowns, and Dak Prescott was first in passing TDs with 28 — turned into a Bills stampede. Cook finished with 179 yards rushing and 221 yards from scrimmage, both career bests, while scoring on an 18-yard catch and a 24-yard run as the Cowboys' five-game winning streak was snapped.

“I just let it rip when I get my opportunity,” said Cook, a second-year player who is the younger brother of New York Jets running back Dalvin Cook. “My O-linemen, they were opening it up and I was hitting it. Finding that rhythm.”

The Bills (8-6) won consecutive games for the first time since a three-game winning streak ended on Oct. 1 and gained ground in the AFC playoff race, moving one game ahead of Denver and Pittsburgh.

The Cowboys (10-4) clinched their third straight playoff berth before kickoff thanks to losses by Green Bay and Atlanta on Sunday and Detroit beating Denver on Saturday. But nothing else went right for Dallas, which fell a game behind NFC-best San Francisco.

Buffalo rushed for 266 yards, held the ball for 10 minutes longer than Dallas and had 28 first downs to the Cowboys’ 14.

The NFL’s top-scoring offense was limited to a field goal through 57 minutes. Dallas is 7-0 at home, where it has outscored opponents 279-108, but fell to 3-4 on the road, where it has been outscored 156-152.

“It’s a gap. That’s part of my message. We play so well at home, and there’s just too big of a gap in our road games,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We are conscious of it. We have a long flight home to continue to talk about, think about (it).”

Dallas, coming off a 33-13 win over Philadelphia, plays two of its last three on the road.

The Bills played keep-away by running the ball in a persistent rain, tripping up a Cowboys offense that finished with a season-low 195 yards.

“They got up on us and continued to control the ball, control the possession, kill the clock. And we didn’t convert on our third downs, which is something we have been great on all year,” Prescott said.

“That’s been our way of winning the games. So they beat us in the formula.”

Buffalo’s injury-depleted defense, missing two more regulars in edge rusher A.J. Epenesa and safety Micah Hyde, had three sacks and limited Prescott to 21 of 34 passing for 134 yards with an interception. And a Cowboys offense that’s scored 40 or more points five times this season punted five times and was limited to eight first downs before gaining six on its final drive.

Four of the Bills' first five possessions lasted more than 4 minutes, 40 seconds.

Latavius Murray capped Buffalo’s 12-play, 75-yard opening drive with a 2-yard run. The Bills went up 14-0 on Cook’s 18-yard touchdown catch on their third drive, which was extended after Sam Williams was flagged for roughing Bills punter Sam Martin.

The game was essentially over after the Bills' opening drive of the third quarter, which ate up 8:22 of the clock and ended with Tyle Bass hitting a a 23-yard field goal to put Buffalo up 24-3.

Buffalo’s 20 first downs rushing were tied for the second most in team history, and most since 1996. Cook’s rushing total was the highest for a Bills player since Fred Jackson had 212 yards in a 2009 season-ending win over Indianapolis.

The Bills, coming off a 20-17 victory at Kansas City, are trying to secure their fifth straight playoff berth and stay in contention for a fourth consecutive AFC East title.

“It was kind of all systems go today,” center Mitch Morse said. “We still have an uphill battle, but this is a great first step.”


Cowboys: RG Zack Martin did not return after hurting his quadriceps in the first quarter. McCarthy said Martin told him he’s going to be OK.

Bills: DT Jordan Phillips did not return after hurting his wrist.


Cowboys: At Miami next Sunday.

Bills: At the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

Recommended Videos