IRVING, Texas (AP)—Bill Parcells certainly has taught the Dallas Cowboys how to win. Next comes how to look good when doing it.
The Cowboys won ugly again Sunday, beating the Buffalo Bills 10-6 despite moving only 51 yards on their two scoring drives and going more than 15 minutes between first downs in the second half.
The result is what matters, though, and Dallas (7-2) remains tied with Carolina for the best record in the NFC. The Cowboys have won seven of eight and are 2-0 in the five-game stretch Parcells has dubbed “Showtime.”
The rub is that Dallas has looked more ready for vaudeville than Broadway the last two games. The Cowboys had to overcome four turnovers, three in the first six plays, to beat Washington.
This time, the Cowboys used a 2-yard touchdown catch by Dan Campbell, a 51-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff and a stifling performance by the league’s stingiest defense. Add that to a wild overtime victory over the Giants and another defense-led win over the Jets, and Dallas could soon be running out of ways to win.
“This is a young team that doesn’t understand everything there is to understand about what this league is,” Parcells said. “The more you win, the more that people get ready for you. You’re going to run into some tough games.”
Buffalo seems to run into a tough game every time it leaves upstate New York.
The Bills (4-5) failed to score a touchdown for the third straight road game. They’ve lost four in a row on the road, getting outscored 95-21.
Coming off a bye week, Buffalo was inept as ever. The only points were field goals of 29 and 41 yards by Rian Lindell, both in the second quarter.
The Bills gained 185 yards against a unit that was allowing a league-best 240.8 yards a game. They had 69 yards on a 2-minute drill to set up the shorter kick just before halftime.
“When you don’t score touchdowns in this league, it’s pretty hard to win,” coach Gregg Williams said. “We’ve got to get answers, we’ve got to get touchdowns.”
Drew Bledsoe was 17-of-34 for 104 yards while under heavy pressure all game. He was sacked three times and lost two fumbles; he was spared from a third by the tuck rule. His longest completion was an 18-yard screen.
“It wasn’t a matter of confusion,” said Bledsoe, who fell to 2-4 against Parcells, his first NFL coach. “We knew what was coming, we knew what they were doing. … I’m frustrated with our production. I have complete confidence in my ability to play the game.”
Buffalo’s defense lived up to its standing as the league’s third-best, statistically. The Cowboys gained only 236 yards, with just seven first downs in the second half.
“The only thing we did right today was we didn’t turn the ball over,” said Quincy Carter, who was 15-of-32 for a season-low 116 yards.
Troy Hambrick ran 13 times for 33 yards, and backup Adrian Murrell—signed off the street two weeks ago—ran for 76 yards. He had 46 in the fourth quarter, including two third-down conversions. The most important was a 17-yarder that iced the victory.
Dallas never looked in control. The first scoring drive went only 24 yards, set up by Bledsoe’s first fumble. The field goal came after Derek Ross took the opening kickoff of the second half 33 yards, then the offense went 27 more.
The Cowboys’ next drive reached the Buffalo 29, but they were stopped on third and fourth downs. Parcells opted not to try a 46-yard field goal because the Bills still could have gone ahead with a touchdown.
The momentum, though, might’ve helped. The Cowboys went three-and-out on their next four possessions, wasting field position that got better every time: starting from the 30-, 39-, 43- and 50-yard lines. They gained 15 yards over those possessions. Even after they finally moved the chains, they still ended up punting.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Parcells said, “but we’ll obviously take it.”
Dallas hadn’t beaten Buffalo in the regular season since Nov. 9, 1981. But the Cowboys had beaten them in two Super Bowls since then. Buffalo had won the last three regular-season meetings. … Travis Henry ran for 80 yards, leaving him 20 yards shy of becoming the first Buffalo runner with three straight 100-yard games since Thurman Thomas did it early in 1994. … This is the second time the Cowboys haven’t allowed a touchdown and the fourth time they’ve allowed seven points or less. … Rookie Willis McGahee, put on theroster this week, was inactive.