PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Quincy Carter had his lowest passing total of the season, with 116 yards while completing 15 of 32. Carter gets credit for not turning the ball over, but he was admittedly bogged down by inaccuracy and misreads.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C+ -- Adrian Murrell showed why the Cowboys signed him, rushing 16 times for 76 yards (4.8-yard average). His speed
proved to be a nice change from Troy Hambrick's bruising style, which mustered only 33 yards on 13 carries.
PASS DEFDENSE: A -- The Cowboys blitzed Drew Bledsoe into submission. He was sacked three times and fumbled twice. It was the sixth straight game the Cowboys held their opponent to under 135 net yards passing.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Led by the defensive front, the Cowboys stymied the Bills rushing attack, especially in the second half. Travis Henry had a couple of spurts early but nothing late. Dat Nguyen continues to be an undersized menace, finishing with a team high seven tackles, including six solos.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Punter Toby Gowin had his best effort of the season, placing five punts inside the 20-yard line to help the Cowboys win the battle of field position. Joey Galloway averaged 10.7 yards on six punt returns, including a 28-yarder.
COACHING: B -- Offensively, the Cowboys didn't get it done, especially with questionable passing calls on third-and-one and fourth-and-two. But the defense had answers to the Cowboys' offensive woes, shutting the Bills down completely. The best predictions before the season had the Cowboys winning seven games. Now they have seven wins with seven games to go. Three victories will probably assure them of a playoff spot. The countdown is on.
News & Notes
* OT Ryan Young (knee swelling) was held out of the Bills game for precautionary reasons. Young, who missed the Redskins game last week, could have played against Buffalo but Bill Parcells wanted him to rest his knee for another week. He should be ready for the Patriots game. If not, Kurt Vollers will continue to go in his stead.
* QB Quincy Carter directed another victory, improving to 13-11 as a starting quarterback, including an 8-3 mark at Texas Stadium. But he was not happy with his performance in Sunday's 10-6 win against the Buffalo Bills and criticized himself afterward.
"I wasn't very accurate with the football," he said. "You can go back and see what they took away, but at the same time, we had our underneath routes that I didn't hit today. I've got to be better with the football."
Carter threw low to tight end Dan Campbell on a third-and-one pass. He overthrew open receivers twice in the first half. He threw an out pass that cornerback Antoine Winfield almost returned for a touchdown in the second half. He forced a throw in a tight spot on a fourth-and-two
play in the third quarter, and he began the Cowboys' first possession of the fourth quarter with three consecutive incompletions.
Carter, whose touchdown pass was a 2-yard throw to Campbell on third-and-one, finished with a 66.7 passer rating after going 15-of-32 for 116 yards. He threw for one touchdown, and his longest pass was 22 yards.
He credited the Bills. But he was tough on himself. "They did a good job scheming us up, but at the same time, we expect a little more out of our offense, especially on my part," Carter said. "I missed some passes today that I want back. Give them a little credit, but we know we can play a lot better than that, and I know definitely I can play a lot better than that."
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells counted on Carter in short-yardage situations. Parcells called for passes on third-and-one and third-and-two
in the first half, but neither play led to a first down. Leading 10-6 in the third quarter, the Cowboys also threw on fourth-and-two from the Buffalo 29. But as he rolled right, Carter threw into tight coverage, and the Bills broke up the play.
"Coach Parcells believes in our offense, that we'll come up with the big play at particular big times," Carter said. "Today we didn't execute
* PK Billy Cundiff's pooch punt off field-goal formation with four minutes left in the fourth quarter was meant to dribble inside the 20-yard
line. Instead, it went into the end zone for a touchback. But cut Cundiff some slack. He said he hadn't punted since he was in high school.
"It's not something I'm real comfortable with, but even if I'm not comfortable, it doesn't matter. You've got to do it," he said. "I was
more nervous for that probably than any kick I've had in my career with the Cowboys, and I didn't convert it to what [Bill] Parcells wanted. If I get my chance again, I'll have to convert it."
Cundiff converted a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter, his third from 50 or more this season. His punt came as he lined up for what
would have been a 50-yard field goal try. The Cowboys also decided not to have Cundiff try from about 45 yards with a 10-6 lead in the third
"It's just the way Coach coaches the game," he said. "It's not like they think I can't make it. I just go out there and do what I'm supposed
to do. Coach Parcells is a very smart guy. That's why he's coaching, and that's why I'm playing."
* P Toby Gowin put five punts inside the 20-yard line, tying the club record for the third time. Danny Villanueva did it at Cleveland in 1965,
and Duane Carrell did it against St. Louis in 1974. Gowin had done it two other times, at Washington in 1997 and against Philadelphia in 1999.
"We had field position the whole second half, which I think led to the win," Bill Parcells said. Gowin averaged 38.6 yards on eight punts. One of his first-half punts had a hang time of 4.9 seconds.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We got a long ways to go that's all I can tell you. It's not easy and it's not without a lot of consternation on my part." -- Cowboys coach Bill Parcells.
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