Diggs says don't count out battle-tested Bills as they host Cowboys
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Count out the Bills as much as you’d like, wide receiver Stefon Diggs is defiant and confident in believing Buffalo is in an ideal spot to make a late-season playoff push.
“We battled a lot, been battle-tested. And it’s a big thing being battled-tested,” Diggs said of a team that has spent much of the season lurching from one crisis to another — be it injuries, blown leads or coach Sean McDermott most recently having to publicly apologize for a clumsy remark he made four years ago in crediting the 9/11 hijackers for their communication skills.
Now it’s a matter for the Bills (7-6) proving they’re better than the team that has dropped five of eight and is left with little margin for error in opening a final four-week stretch by hosting the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys (10-3) on Sunday.
“Is the record a reflection of our team? I don’t think so. But it is the record," Diggs said. “The only thing we can do is win the next game, win the next play.
“Because down this stretch, we get to see what we’re made of. And as a true competitor, if you’re a real competitor, that’s what you want. And I like being an underdog more than anything.”
The Cowboys might be riding high following a 33-13 rout of Philadelphia to nudge ahead of their division rivals, and a win or a tie away from clinching a third consecutive playoff berth. The challenge for the Cowboys is carrying over the momentum they’ve generated in winning five straight while spending much of the past month at home, and taking their high-octane offensive show on the road.
“Outdoors, northern climate, all those things. I think this is what you need as part of that opportunity,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said. “If things go right, and we’re able to get the momentum, grab those chunks of confidence that come with a good division win as we had (against the Eagles), this is an opportunity to go win and grow as a football team.”
The Cowboys have been superb at home, where they're 7-0 and outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 279-108. They're so-so, however, on the road in going 3-3 with a 142-125 edge in points.
“Right now it’s not about home or away. These are all playoff-type games,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “It’s important for us to use this momentum and confidence that we gathered from the last month-and-a-half and make sure we take another step on the road.”
Fortunately for Dallas, the forecast Sunday has temperatures in the 40s with chances of rain in the late afternoon, which led to the Cowboys practicing with wet balls Thursday.
The Bills are hoping their playoffs chances don’t slip away entering a week in which they’re 11th in the AFC standings, but one of six teams at 7-6. Buffalo maintains an outside shot of winning its fourth consecutive division title after the Bills defeated the Chiefs last weekend and Miami fell to 9-4 following a loss to Tennessee.
The Bills have already defeated the Dolphins once, and the teams close the season with a matchup in Miami.
First things first, McDermott said.
“That obviously helped a little bit,” McDermott said, referring to the Dolphins' loss. “Having said that, we’re focused obviously on what’s right in front of us with Dallas this week.”
DIGGS ON DIGGS
Diggs lamented not having a chance to line up against his younger brother, Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, who sustained a season-ending left knee injury in September.
“I really looked forward to a big fight out there,” said Stefon Diggs, noting he and his brother spent much of the offseason trading trash talk. The two will have to do it off the field, with Diggs saying his younger brother is scheduled to travel to Buffalo on Friday.
Star Dallas pass rusher Micah Parsons played through the flu to get the only sack of Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts last week. The 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year was feeling much better Thursday when asked about the challenge of tackling Buffalo’s Josh Allen, and noting the QB doesn’t believe in sliding.
“You know, Josh reminds me a lot of that one crazy guy at the frat,” Parsons said. “I probably would have hated Josh in college, the one that makes his friends get all the way drunk and you just be, ‘Ah, man, I hate going out with this guy.’ He just does anything.”
LAMB AND DIGGS
Lamb puts Diggs in that elite category, even though he’s likely to finish ahead of him in yards for the first time in his four-year career. Lamb has a 1,253-993 edge in yards receiving on Diggs.
“Obviously you love to see it just because it shows how elite the other guys are on the opposite sideline,” Lamb said. “Not really a comparison situation, just ultimately coming out of the game with dub.”
AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon contributed.
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