ARLINGTON, Tex. — The Dallas Cowboys utilized a highly effective mixture of precise passing by quarterback Tony Romo, workmanlike running by rookie tailbackDeMarco Murray, and solid play on defense to inch back above the .500 mark and remain within striking distance of first place in the NFC East.
“We have good balance offensively,” Romo said. “If you have a good enough unit to be able to throw the ball like we do, and you’re able to close out the games with running the ball like we have been able to do, then that’s a huge, huge advantage to have. . . . We’ll see. We’re excited.”
Romo completed his first 13 passes of the game. He threw three touchdown passes, two of them to wide receiver Laurent Robinson, as the Cowboys built a 21-0 advantage early in the second quarter. Murray added a 1-yard touchdown run on the Cowboys’ fourth drive and they led, 28-7, after a first half in which Romo completed 18 of 19 passes for 237 yards.
He finished the day with 270 yards while connecting on 23 of 26 throws to set a single-game team record for passing accuracy, at 88.5 percent. Murray ran for 135 yards on 20 carries as the Cowboys won their second straight game to improve their record to 5-4. It was their most lopsided victory since October 2000 and they pulled to within one game of the division-leading New York Giants, who lost to San Francisco, 27-20.
The Cowboys face the Redskins next weekend at FedEx Field.
“We need to build on this,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “That’s what good teams do.”
The Bills’ record dropped to 5-4 with their second loss in a row. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a touchdown pass for Buffalo but also threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman. The Bills also lost a fumble and had four turnovers.
“That was tough,” Fitzpatrick said. “We wanted to rebound from last week. . . . We really thought we’d come out here and play well.”
The Bills have lost three of four games since starting the season 4-1. They’ve been outscored, 71-18, while losing their past two games to the Jets and the Cowboys.
“We didn’t start good,” Bills Coach Chan Gailey said. “You turn it over, you don’t stop them and you are going to get beat bad.”
The first three times the Cowboys had the ball, Romo completed all 11 of his passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
“He knew where he wanted to go with the ball,” Witten said. “Guys got open and he got them the ball. He played great.”
Wide receiver Dez Bryant made a leaping catch above Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin on a lob from Romo for a 34-yard touchdown catchon the Cowboys’ opening possession.
The Bills, by contrast, began by leaving Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware unblocked for a sack on their first offensive play. Buffalo couldn’t manage a first down and punted, and Romo and the Cowboys struck again. On a third-down play from the Buffalo 5-yard line, Romo bought some time by scrambling to his left and zipped a pass to a wide-open Robinson in the end zone.
Place kicker Dave Rayner missed a 52-yard field goal try for the Bills, and Robinson sprinted past cornerback Drayton Florence on the Cowboys’ next play. Romo’s throw was right on target for a 58-yard touchdown.
“I’m feeling confident,” Robinson said. “I’m just trying to show I can make a play when the ball comes my way.”
The Bills responded when wide receiver David Nelson caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick. But that was about it for the Bills’ offensive production.
“The last two weeks, it hasn’t been there,” Fitzpatrick said. “We haven’t been able to overcome some of the mistakes and slow starts and those things. . . .The last two weeks we haven’t played like a playoff team.”
Romo finally threw an incompletion on the Cowboys’ fourth possession of the day, but the drive still ended with a touchdown, this time on a one-yard run by Murray that made it a 28-7 game. The Cowboys added to their lead with a 45-yard field goal by kicker Dan Bailey in the third quarter. Bailey connected from 36 yards after Newman had the first of his two interceptions for the Cowboys on a deflected pass, and added another field goal in the fourth quarter.
Newman scored on a 43-yard return of an interception with five minutes to play.
“We needed to start winning and stacking wins together,” Romo said. “It’s getting to that point.”