1:00 PM ET, November 13, 2011
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
None of the eight head coaches in the history of the Dallas Cowboys have had their tenures end more quickly than Chan Gailey.
However, with his Buffalo Bills set to play three consecutive road games following an awful offensive performance, Gailey is more concerned about getting a victory than exacting revenge on his former employer.
The Bills will try to avoid losing two straight for the first time this season Sunday when they face a Cowboys team trying to make a push for the NFC East lead under coach Jason Garrett.
Hired in 1998 to replace Barry Switzer, Gailey went 18-14 in two seasons with the Cowboys, leading them to the playoffs twice yet never winning a postseason game. Since getting fired by owner Jerry Jones, Gailey has been an offensive coordinator in Miami and Kansas City as well as the head coach at Georgia Tech from 2002-07.
"I've worked a lot of places, unfortunately, but it's one of those deals where you remember your time there and there were some good times and some bad times (in Dallas)," Gailey said. "But that's not the focus. The focus is trying to win a game. ... We got everything in front of us -- we hold our own destiny in our own hands, so we gotta go take care of business."
Buffalo (5-3) failed to do so in Sunday's 27-11 loss to the New York Jets. The Bills -- tied with New England as the AFC's highest-scoring team at 27.8 points per game -- failed to reach 20 for the first time this season. They went 3 of 11 on third-down conversions and committed a season-high three turnovers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had two interceptions, giving him six in the last four games.
"It was a bad game," said Fitzpatrick, who was 15 of 31 for a season-worst 191 yards. "We certainly didn't have our best effort out there, and I think that's where a lot of disappointment and frustration comes in."
Led by Fred Jackson -- the AFC's leading rusher at 100.4 yards per game -- the Bills are averaging 135.0 yards on the ground to rank seventh in the NFL. Buffalo, though, ran for just 96 last Sunday, and Jackson lost a fumble for the first time this year.
Dallas has allowed 401 yards on the ground over the past two weeks, though leading tackler Sean Lee expects to return after missing the last game and a half with a wrist injury.
If the Bills want to claim their first AFC East title since 1995 -- they're tied atop the division with the Patriots and the Jets -- they'll likely have to make some noise on the road. Buffalo visits Dallas, Miami and the Jets before its next home game Dec. 4 against Tennessee.
"It will be a difficult stretch, but we don't have to play all three of them at the same time," Jackson said. "If we go out and continue to make plays like we have been throughout the season, we feel like we'll be OK."
Buffalo is 1-2 on the road, but those losses were each by three points to first-place teams -- Cincinnati and the Giants.
While the Cowboys "can't hover around .500," as tight end Jason Witten said, the road ahead could be much smoother than the first half, which ended with Sunday's 23-13 win over Seattle.
Dallas (4-4) has upcoming games versus Washington, Miami and Arizona -- they are a combined 6-18 -- before a Dec. 11 matchup with the NFC East-leading Giants.
"We've done a lot of things to build on over the first eight games, a lot we can be positive about. ... But we have to get better," said Garrett -- a quarterback on Gailey's Cowboys teams -- who is 9-7 since taking over for the fired Wade Phillips last season.
The Cowboys' running game has taken a huge step forward since Felix Jones suffered a high ankle sprain. In the three games Jones has missed, rookie DeMarco Murray has rushed for 466 yards -- 42 more than the team's total through Week 5.
"We are going to have a great 1-2 punch when Felix gets healthy," Witten said. "It's going to put us in a great situation."
Jones is questionable Sunday, but Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin could be out for up to a month after injuring his right hamstring last week.
"It's going to be hard without him," Tony Romo said. "... Obviously we'll have to do some things to counter it."
Buffalo's defense ranks 25th against the pass, allowing 260.4 yards per game, but leads the AFC with 15 interceptions.
Romo was picked off a career-high five times the last time these teams met, but the Cowboys scored nine points in the final 20 seconds to win 25-24 in Orchard Park on Oct. 8, 2007.
Including victories in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII, Dallas is 7-3 versus Buffalo.
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|Avg Points Allowed||24.2||20.2|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||BUF|
|Rush Yds Allowed||BUF|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Dallas leads 3-0|
|Oct 8, 2007||BUF 24, DAL 25|
|Nov 9, 2003||BUF 6, @DAL 10|