The Dallas Cowboys were thoroughly outplayed on both sides of the ball Sunday, falling 31-10 to the Buffalo Bills on the road. The loss highlighted growing concerns about the Cowboys’ ability to compete away from home against playoff-caliber opponents.
Bills Dominate Line of Scrimmage
The Bills imposed their will up front, gashing the Cowboys defense for 174 rushing yards in the first half alone. Second-year running back James Cook led the charge with 86 yards and a touchdown before halftime. He finished with 113 yards and a score. 
“We just got outplayed. That’s the bottom line,” said linebacker Micah Parsons. “We didn’t show up today and it showed.” 
The Bills offensive line created gaping holes while quarterback Josh Allen expertly managed the game. Meanwhile, the Cowboys failed to get anything going offensively as Buffalo took away the deep ball and held Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to a combined 46 rushing yards. 
“We just didn’t play a good game of football today,” said head coach Mike McCarthy. “We were outcoached, we were outplayed all the way through. This is the first game that I felt like we were outcoached.” 
|Time of Possession
Bills offensive domination by the numbers
Road Woes Continue
Dating back to last season, the Cowboys are now 1-7 on the road against teams that finished the season with winning records. Their only such road win in that span came against the Vikings, when Cooper Rush was still filling in for an injured Dak Prescott. 
Prescott had one of his worst performances, failing to throw a touchdown pass while tossing two interceptions. He finished with a 48.1 passer rating.
“It’s mind-boggling to me,” said linebacker Micah Parsons about the team’s road struggles. “Honestly it’s unacceptable at this point. We’re a good team, but we have to prove that. The time is now.” 
Dallas has proven capable of beating lesser teams at home, but if they want to make real noise in the playoffs they must exorcise their road demons. With tough road tests against the Titans and Commanders still looming, the Cowboys have two more chances to show they can win big games away from Jerry World. 
Coaching to Blame?
Cowboys players weren’t shy about calling out the coaching staff after the game. Defensive captain Jayron Kearse told reporters, “We didn’t look prepared at all. That’s on us as players first, but that’s also on coaches too.” 
The game plan, particularly on defense, proved completely ineffective.
“We knew what they wanted to do was run the ball, but we didn’t get it done,” said star linebacker Micah Parsons. “If a team can run the ball on you like that, man that says a lot.” 
Head coach Mike McCarthy’s conservative decisions have also come under scrutiny in recent road losses. Against the Bills and Packers earlier this season, he opted to punt or kick field goals on 4th-and-short in opposing territory multiple times. Both games ended in double-digit losses.
Some fans and analysts argue McCarthy lacks the killer instinct to win big games on the road. His tenure in Green Bay famously ended after repeated postseason disappointments despite a generational talent at quarterback. Cowboys supporters fear history could repeat itself with Dak Prescott. 
Playoff Hopes Still Alive Despite Loss
Although thoroughly outmatched, the Cowboys did clinch a playoff spot Sunday thanks to losses by Detroit and Washington earlier in the day. Dallas remains atop the NFC East and controls its path to the postseason. 
“We have a lot more football left. We have three games left in the regular season and the tournament starts,” said quarterback Dak Prescott. “As I said, it’s about continuing to get better. Obviously the first step is winning this division outright.” 
If the Cowboys win their final three games, including two at home, they will guarantee hosting at least one playoff game. Still, doubts linger whether Dallas has enough firepower to compete with the NFL’s elite after Sunday’s dud. 
Star players like Prescott, Parsons and Zack Martin must step up their performances on the road. The dominant offensive line that paved the way during Dallas’ six-game winning streak was exposed by Buffalo. 
With winnable games left on the schedule, the Cowboys could regain momentum before the playoffs. But first, they’ll look to rebound at home next week against the struggling Eagles. 
What Happens Next?
The Cowboys face critical questions in coming weeks that could determine their postseason fate:
Will Ezekiel Elliott return from knee injury? Zeke hopes to get back for the Eagles game in Week 16. Tony Pollard struggled mightily without his backfield mate against the Bills. 
Can Dak Prescott shake off recent struggles? Two straight duds from the $40 million quarterback raise concerns heading toward the playoffs. Prescott must limit turnovers and rediscover his early season success. 
Will Dallas continue playoff push without Martin? All-Pro guard Zack Martin exited Sunday’s loss with a calf injury. His health down the stretch could determine whether the Cowboys’ offense gets back in gear. 
If Dallas can win home games against Philadelphia and Tennessee, they should make the playoffs regardless of how they finish in Washington. But serious doubts linger whether this team has enough to win in January without fixing persistent problems first. 
“All we have to do is win,” said Prescott. “Once you get in, anything can happen.” 
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