Bills Routed 44-7 by Cowboys for 2nd Straight Loss

After their fast start, the Bills no longer resemble in any way a team ready to legitimately challenge the Patriots and Jets at the top of the AFC East.

“Right now we’re more of a pretender than a contender,” coach Chan Gailey said after the Bills’ 44-7 loss Sunday at Dallas.

Fitzpatrick was sacked on his first snap when Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware got to him untouched. Guard Andy Levitre called that “a pretty good sign of the rest of the game for us.”

The Bills (5-4) trailed by two touchdowns before they even had positive yards on offense and committed four turnovers, including a fumble by Fred Jackson, in their most lopsided loss since 2007. They have lost two in a row, and three of four.

The rout made it an especially bitter homecoming for Gailey and Jackson. Gailey coached the Cowboys to the playoffs in 1998-99, his only two years on the job, and Jackson grew up in this suburb, at one time living on the property that’s now Cowboys Stadium.

“It’s not the performance we wanted to put on, myself included,” said Jackson, even though he ran for 114 yards on 13 carries. “We ran into a buzz saw.”

Tony Romo is finally healthy and now he’s got a running game, too. Throw in an opportunistic defense and a kicker who hasn’t missed since mid-September, and it’s clear the Cowboys are headed in the right direction.

Facing the best team he’ll see for a month, Romo guided touchdown drives on his first four series, and Terence Newman returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown.

Dallas (5-4) won its second straight and could be starting a big surge. Not only were the Cowboys clicking in all phases Sunday, they’re going into a soft patch on their schedule. Their next three foes went into this weekend a combined 6-18.

The Cowboys scored their most points since Sept. 9, 2007, which was the first game that current coach Jason Garrett was coordinating the offense. They also enjoyed their most lopsided win since Oct. 22, 2000. This 37-point margin is bigger than any regular-season victory in Dallas with Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells or Barry Switzer on the sideline.

“I think that’s as good as we played against a team that’s credible,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

Romo put Dallas ahead 21-0 by throwing touchdown passes of 34 yards to Dez Bryant and 58 and 5 yards to Laurent Robinson. He hit his first 13 attempts and finished 23 of 26 (88.5 percent), setting the franchise record for single-game accuracy.

Buffalo won its first three games of the season and was 4-1 before the slide that included last week’s 27-11 loss to the Jets.

“We have made progress, but you can’t play like this and see it, or feel it,” Gailey said. “My responsibility as the coach is to get our guys back to playing where we were playing earlier in the season.”

Fitzpatrick was 20 of 31 for 146 yards and a touchdown, a 3-yarder to David Nelson punctuated by Nelson presenting the ball to his girlfriend — a Cowboys cheerleader.

Fitzpatrick helped make Cowboys cheerleaders happy all afternoon. He threw a season-worst three interceptions, the two by Newman and another to Frank Walker at the 1-yard line on Buffalo’s final snap. He converted only 2 of 7 third-down attempts and failed on his only fourth-down try.

This was the second straight ugly outing for Fitzpatrick, who recently signed a $59 million, six-year contract.

“We put in some good practice time and really thought we’d come out here and play well,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s hard to even think ahead right now because of how embarrassing that loss was.”

NOTES: Bills C Eric Wood and backup LB Chris White both left the game in the third quarter with knee injuries. Without elaborating, Gailey said he doubted that Wood would be ready for next Sunday’s game at Miami and that “Chris looks the worst of the bunch.” … Buffalo’s previous worst loss this season was by 16 points, the previous Sunday.

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Atlanta Rallies, Knocking Out Vick in His Return

Ryan hit tight end Tony Gonzalez with two touchdown passes. Gonzalez surpassed Terrell Owens for fifth on the N.F.L.’s career receiving list. Ryan then hooked up with Ovie Mughelli on a 1-yarder that brought Atlanta to 31-28 with just over six minutes remaining.

The Falcons (1-1) completed the comeback as Michael Turner broke off a 61-yard run, then powered over from the 3 with 3 minutes 24 seconds left. Vick, in his return to Atlanta, left with a neck injury after being spun by a Falcons rusher into a Philadelphia blocker.

Thrilling Win for

After a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter, Ryan Fitzpatrick found David Nelson wide open on fourth down for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to secure a 38-35 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

A week after a 41-7 win at Kansas City, the Fitzpatrick-led offense produced a 35-point second half in overcoming a 21-3 first-half deficit.

Buffalo scored touchdowns on each of its five second-half possessions as the teams traded the lead five times in the final 14 minutes 10 seconds.

Romo Rebounds

Playing with a fractured rib, Tony Romo hit Jesse Holley on a 77-yard completion on Dallas’s first play of overtime to set up Dan Bailey’s winning 19-yard field goal, as the Cowboys rallied for a 27-24 victory over the 49ers. It was almost the exact reverse of what happened a week earlier: a 27-24 road loss to the Jets in which Dallas blew a late 14-point lead. Romo vowed to play his “best game” after his late interception contributed to that collapse, but even finishing the game was in doubt at halftime.

Romo emerged from the locker room after the second-half kickoff and walked briefly into the huddle, then immediately came off under doctor’s orders and headed back to the locker room.

Back on the sideline late in the third quarter, Romo tapped Jason Garrett on the shoulder and told him to put him back in.

“Eventually, what was convincing was, ‘At some point I’m going to play with this thing, so why not now?’ ” Garrett said, quoting Romo.

¶ The Steelers toyed with the Seahawks in a 24-0 victory at Heinz Field. Seattle (0-2) was held to 164 yards and did not take a snap on Pittsburgh’s side of the field until the fourth quarter. “We didn’t score a point, period, and that is just embarrassing,” Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said.

Newton Sharp in Loss

For the second straight week, Cam Newton threw for more than 400 yards, sidestepped pass rushers and moved the Panthers up and down the field. And for the second straight week, Carolina lost. Aaron Rodgers passed for 308 yards and 2 scores, and the Packers held off the Panthers, 30-23, despite a 432-yard passing day from Newton in his home debut. A week after passing for 422 yards — the most in league history by a rookie in his professional debut — Newton topped himself by setting a franchise single-game record. He passed for one touchdown and also ran for a 4-yard score with 37 seconds left, but the Packers (2-0) recovered the onside kick to seal their victory.

¶ Matthew Stafford threw two of his four touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson and the Lions routed the visiting Chiefs, 48-3. The win was the biggest in the regular season for Detroit (2-0), and matched its 45-point win over Cleveland in the 1957 N.F.L. title game. “We can play better,” Coach Jim Schwartz said with a shrug. The Chiefs (0-2), who were thrashed by the Bills in Week 1, have been outscored, 89-10, in their first two games.

¶ The Redskins beat the visiting Cardinals, 22-21, when Graham Gano’s 34-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining completed their comeback from an 8-point, fourth-quarter deficit. Santana Moss’s 18-yard catch on fourth down with 5:17 remaining pulled Washington (2-0) within 2, but the 2-point conversion attempt failed. After a punt, the Redskins got the ball back at their 36 with 4:20 to play and drove to Arizona’s 16 to set up Gano’s kick.

¶ Chris Johnson had his second straight subpar game, with 53 yards on 24 carries, but Matt Hasselbeck passed for 358 yards to lead the Titans over the visiting Ravens, 26-13. Rob Bironas kicked four field goals as Tennessee (1-1) held the ball for more than 35 minutes and outgained Baltimore, 432-229.

Around the League

¶ LeGarrette Blount’s 4-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left gave the Buccaneers a 24-20 victory over the Vikings, who blew a halftime lead and lost for the second week in a row.

¶ Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and the New Orleans defense recovered from a sloppy Week 1 effort by recording six sacks as the Saints beat the visiting Bears, 30-13. Jay Cutler was hit repeatedly, including once from behind by safety Malcolm Jenkins, after which he remained briefly on his knees with hands over each side of his helmet. “It was a long day out there,” he said.

¶ Willis McGahee ran for a touchdown and Eric Decker caught two touchdown passes as the Broncos beat the visiting Bengals, 24-22, to give John Fox his first win as Denver’s coach. Andy Dalton passed for 332 yards, hitting his fellow rookie A. J. Green 10 times for 124 yards and Jerome Simpson 4 times for 136 yards. Cincinnati has not won in Denver since 1975.

¶ The bumbling Dolphins lost to the Texans, 23-13, falling to 0-2 at home after committing two turnovers, having a 22-yard field-goal attempt blocked and missing a 34-yarder. The Texans improved to 2-0 for the second year in a row. Last season they faded to 6-10.

¶ With one Peyton (Manning) out, another Peyton (Hillis) overpowered defenders on two touchdown runs, leading the Browns to a 27-19 victory over the reeling Colts in Indianapolis. Starting again for Manning, Kerry Collins finished 19 of 38 for 191 yards with an interception, a touchdown and a lost fumble. The Colts are 0-2 for the first time since 1998.

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