The game wasn't over at the time, but everyone watching knew the Dallas Cowboys weren't overcoming a 31-3 deficit in the fourth quarter. The Buffalo Bills came out and bullied the Cowboys, who were riding a five-game winning streak into Sunday, and exposed them as a team that can't win big games on the road.
While Mike McCarthy was likely reluctant to wave the white flag, he made a baffling decision to keep Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and Dallas' other most important players in the game to start the fourth quarter trailing by four touchdowns.
Prescott was subjected to multiple sacks in the third quarter alone, including one where he was trampled by as many as four Bills defenders.
None of the hits struck fear into Cowboys fans, though. That happened when Prescott forced a throw into triple coverage intended for Lamb. The star receiver took a huge hit and was slow to get up before jogging back to the line of scrimmage.
Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb nearly injured vs Bills thanks to Mike McCarthy's negligence
The hit doesn't look gruesome from that angle, but Lamb was sprinting full speed tracking the ball and was blinsided by the collision, which included a knee to the rib area from Bills ball-hawking safety Jordan Poyer. It's no surprise Lamb was slow to get up, but it's fair to question why No. 88 was stil in the game at this point.
To make matters worse, McCarthy sent the first-team offense -- inclusive of Prescott and Lamb -- back out there with less than seven minutes to play.
There's obviously a lot of gray area here. Did Prescott and Lamb fight to continue playing? As clear leaders of the team, it's not out of the question that Prescott, Lamb and others were vehement about not "quitting" on their teammates and playing until the final whistle.
At the same time, though, it's McCarthy's job to think and act in the team's best interest. This might surprise you, but that doesn't include subjecting your franchise quarterback and receiver to further hits in garbage time of a blowout loss.
With three minutes to go, Prescott was taking off and scrambling (taking more hits) and Lamb took a handoff (!) for a TD with 2:48 left in the game.
We understand the thinking behind building confidence into next week, but let's be honest with ourselves: what positivity is a TD to make the score 31-10 with two minutes to play going to generate for the Christmas Eve game against the Dolphins?
It didn't come back to haunt the Cowboys this time, but Lamb and Co. should've been pulled the second Lamb took a flying knee from Poyer. The fact everyone remained in the game until the bitter end was a disaster waiting to happen and McCarthy should answer for it even though nothing terrible came of it.
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