Thursday's NFL: Trick touchdown leads Bills past Cowboys; Saints clinch amid wild finish
Arlington, Texas — Cole Beasley savored a little extra time on the field with his former teammates after what had to be one of the most satisfying days of the Buffalo receiver’s career.
And to think he didn’t even have the most noteworthy play for the Bills’ pass-catchers.
John Brown became the first Buffalo receiver to throw a touchdown pass, Josh Allen set a franchise record by producing at least two touchdowns in an eighth consecutive game and the surging Bills beat the fading Dallas Cowboys 26-15 on Thursday.
Allen’s TD pass was to Beasley, who had 110 yards receiving in the stadium where he spent his first seven seasons as the Bills (9-3) got their first Thanksgiving win since 1975 in their first appearance on the holiday in 25 years.
Buffalo is 5-1 on the road for the first time since 1966, and the nine wins through 12 games are the most since the Bills finished 10-6 in Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s final season in 1996.
“It’ll be the most satisfying day when we win a Super Bowl,” said Beasley, who was critical of the Cowboys after leaving, then had six catches and finished 2 yards shy of his career high against them. “It’s just another win, another step in the right direction.”
The Cowboys (6-6) stumbled after scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, giving Philadelphia a chance to rejoin them atop the NFC East after their fourth double-digit loss in the past six Thanksgiving games.
A lackluster showing for Dallas’ sixth loss in nine games came four days after owner Jerry Jones blasted the coaching staff following a loss to New England from a team that entered the season with lofty expectations.
Jones remained supportive of embattled coach Jason Garrett, who is in the final year of his contract in his ninth full season for a franchise that hasn’t been past the divisional round since the last of its five championships to finish the 1995 season.
“This is not the time for me,” said Jones, who made an in-season change when Garrett got the job in 2010. “I’m looking ahead at winning four or five straight. Every decision that I make over the next month will be with an eye in mind to get us in the Super Bowl now.”
Allen was 19 of 24 for 231 yards and a career-best 120.7 passer rating as Bills won their third straight game and solidified their hold on an AFC wild-card spot.
The second-year quarterback found the ball at the bottom of a pile after fumbling a snap on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter, quickly reached the ball over the first down spot and then stumbled forward 3 yards to the Dallas 28, pumping his arms emphatically afterward.
“On fourth down, fourth and short, fumbling the snap, I got to do a better job with that, and get the ball to our running back and let him do the job there,” Allen said. “But I wanted it. I wanted it really bad.”
On the next play, Brown took a pitch on a double reverse and lofted the ball to wide-open running back Devin Singletary for Buffalo’s first lead at 13-7 in the second quarter.
“I played a little backup quarterback in Pop Warner, but I wasn’t all that,” Brown said becoming the first non-QB with a touchdown pass for the Bills since Fred Jackson 10 years ago.
“Dropped a dime,” Beasley said. “We had two great quarterbacks today.”
The Cowboys couldn’t blame a sputtering offense on the conditions after the windy and rainy loss to the Patriots. Dak Prescott threw an interception, lost one fumble and had another on fourth down as Dallas was outscored 26-0 over a 50-minute stretch.
Ezekiel Elliott had 54 yards rushing and another 20 receiving in the first nine minutes, but wasn’t much of a factor the rest of the way. He finished with 71 yards rushing and 66 receiving.
Singletary became the latest back to have a splashier day than the two-time rushing champion, rushing for 63 yards with 38 more receiving. The 28-yard score was the easiest play he had all day, waiting for Brown’s throw to come down and waltzing into the end zone.
Thursday's other game
► New Orleans 26, (at) Atlanta 18: Taysom Hill blocked a punt to set up his 3-yard touchdown catch, later scored on a 30-yard run and the Saints clinched their third straight NFC South title by beating the Falcons.
With Julio Jones inactive due to a shoulder injury, the Falcons had too little offense to keep pace with Drew Brees and the Saints. Atlanta recovered two onside kicks in the closing minutes, including one with 1:54 remaining, to make things interesting.
Matt Ryan was sacked by Cameron Jordan on a fourth-down play from the New Orleans 44 with 38 seconds remaining. Ryan was sacked nine times, including four by Jordan.
The Saints (10-2) atoned for their 26-9 home loss to the Falcons on Nov. 10. It was the Saints’ only loss in their last 10 games.
The versatile Hill blocked Ryan Allen’s punt to end Atlanta’s first possession. The Saints took over at the Falcons 30, and four plays later Hill scored his first touchdown on the short pass from Brees.
Hill took a direct snap and ran 30 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season to give New Orleans a 17-6 lead late in the first half.
The disappointing Falcons (3-9) solidified their hold on last place in the division with their second straight home loss.