Bills take control of AFC wild-card race with win over Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Buffalo Bills' 26-15 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving made little to no sense on paper, but in a way, it made perfect sense.

The Bills were coming off back-to-back performances with 400-plus yards of offense, including their most complete game of the season last weekend against the Denver Broncos. Dallas, on the other hand, was reeling after a loss to the New England Patriots -- after which Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made negative remarks about his coaching staff and team's play.

So of course, with the entire nation watching, on a day practically synonymous with Cowboys football, the unexpected was bound to happen.

With Thursday's victory, Buffalo (9-3) secured its fourth winning season in the past 20 years and firmly planted itself in control of the AFC wild-card race. In the first game of a difficult four-game stretch, this win might be the Bills' most emphatic statement in recent memory.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Sean McDermott is the first Bills coach with multiple winning seasons since Wade Phillips, who coached the team from 1998 to 2000.

Describe the game in two words: Respect earned. Critics might argue that the Cowboys are not as good as their season stats suggest -- but beating this team on Thanksgiving, at Dallas, on a short week, while controlling every facet of the game after both teams' opening drives? Put some respect on the Bills' name.

QB breakdown: If the national narrative on Josh Allen said he is a below-average quarterback, that might have changed overnight. The second-year pro outplayed Dak Prescott, completing 19 of 24 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown and adding another 43 yards and a score in eight carries. He extended plays, made smart decisions and took advantage of just about everything the Cowboys gave him. He's a completely different quarterback since throwing three interceptions against the Patriots in Week 4 -- a result, he says, of the game slowing down for him.

Pivotal play: One play didn't decide the game -- but three plays in a seven-play stretch late in the second quarter swung momentum for good. Fresh off throwing an ugly interception to Bills defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Prescott was stripped-sacked by Ed Oliver on the third play of the ensuing drive. Five plays later, Allen fumbled the snap on fourth-and-1, only to pluck the ball out of a pile and leap over the line of scrimmage for the first down. On the next play, wide receiver John Brown threw a 28-yard pass to running back Devin Singletary on a double reverse to give Buffalo a 13-7 lead -- a lead that would grow in the second half.

Eye-popping NextGen Stat: Bills receiver Cole Beasley averaged 3.51 yards of separation at the time of the catch or incompletion, above the league average of 2.83 yards. The former Cowboy put up 110 yards on six catches in his first game back in Dallas, the third 100-yard game of his career. Beasley became the second former player to record 100 receiving yards in his first game against the Cowboys with his new team, per Elias Sports Bureau research. The other was Andre Holmes, who had 136 yards for the Raiders on Thanksgiving in 2013.