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Cowboys take big step forward, Bills take big step backward

Buffalo Bills v Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 13: Orlando Scandrick #32 of the Dallas Cowboys pressures Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills at Cowboys Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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Heading into today’s games, the Cowboys and Bills appeared to be fairly similar teams, both fighting for playoff spots in their respective conferences. But once the Cowboys and Bills stepped on the field in Dallas, they couldn’t have looked more different.

The Cowboys absolutely dominated the Bills in every phase of the game, taking a major step forward in the NFC playoff race with a 44-7 win. The Bills, meanwhile, looked terrible, and they’re going to be looking up in the AFC East standings at the winner of tonight’s Patriots-Jets game.

The story of the game for the Cowboys was Tony Romo, who was as accurate and effective as he’s ever been against the Bills. Romo was just about flawless in his passing, hitting his receivers in stride and always finding the open man. Although Romo has made some high-profile mistakes this season, when he’s on he’s among the league’s elite quarterbacks, and he was on today.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, however, turned in his second straight disappointing performance. Just as he did in last week’s loss to the Jets, Fitzpatrick looked like he struggled when he was under pressure and didn’t make many big plays. It’s a bit of a concern that Fitzpatrick has turned in two straight stinkers so soon after signing a big contract that ensures he’s the team’s franchise quarterback.

The first time Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass he was sacked by Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who remains on pace to break Michael Strahan’s NFL record for sacks in a season. If the Cowboys are playing big games down the stretch, Ware is going to get increased attention for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

And it looks like the Cowboys will be playing big games down the stretch: The NFC playoff race is crowded, and the Cowboys are still behind the Giants in the NFC East, but the Cowboys are making it clear that they’re going to be a tough team to beat.