Backup running backs Mike Gillislee and Karlos Williams and quarterback Tyrod Taylor combined for 236 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Bills in a 16-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on a rainy Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Buffalo came into the game ranked first in the NFL in total rushing and yards per carry, but much of that production had come from McCoy, who injured his right knee in last week's loss at Washington that eliminated the Bills from playoff contention.
Gillislee, a third-year player who had carried the ball in just one game before the Bills signed him off the practice squad four weeks ago, set a career high with 93 yards on nine runs and sealed the win with a 50-yard touchdown with 2:23 remaining.
Williams, Buffalo's fifth-round selection in this year's draft out of Florida State, rushed for 76 yards on 17 carries and had a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that came after Gillislee's 15-yard catch-and-run.
"The real MVP of the game was those boys up front," Williams said. "Man, they played a hell of a game up there creating holes and moving those D-lineman."
Taylor rushed for 67 yards on 17 carries, including a 7-yard pickup on a third-and-6 play that led to Gillislee's touchdown. Taylor now has 517 rushing yards this season, a record for Bills quarterbacks.
"He's one of the best athletes playing quarterback in the NFL," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
Taylor was 13 of 18 passing for 179 yards and an interception. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins caught five passes for 84 yards.
"It wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect by any means," Taylor said. "But we played 60 minutes of football and were able to close out the game the right way."
Undrafted rookie linebacker A.J. Tarpley had an interception and a forced fumble in his first career start for a banged-up Bills defense that didn't allow a touchdown for the first time this season. Buffalo gave up a season-low 14 first downs, and the 307 yards allowed was the defense's best performance since before the Week 8 bye.
"It's impressive," Bills coach Rex Ryan said. "We're not competing for the playoffs and I know what that means to this community and how disappointed we are with that. But you can't be disappointed in the efforts of the players who are out here."
The Bills didn't need their best effort to beat an injury-riddled Cowboys team that has been out of playoff contention for several weeks.
Quarterback Kellen Moore could not spark the Cowboys, completing 13 of 31 passes for 186 yards and an interception in his first career start.
"He played really good football in a lot of situations," Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "Didn't look like a guy starting his first NFL game, that's for sure."
Like Weeden and Cassel before him, Moore directed a Dallas passing attack that failed to produce 200 yards or a touchdown for the third time this season.
"Six points isn't going to win you many games, if any," Moore said.
Running back Darren McFadden rushed for 99 yards, and wide receiver Brice Butler caught four passes for 74 yards, both career highs, for the Cowboys, who have lost three straight.
Dan Carpenter's 32-yard field goal put Buffalo in front 9-6 midway through the third quarter. Carpenter missed an extra point in the first quarter.
Both teams turned the ball over in the opponent's territory over a 30-second span late in the third quarter. Tarpley foiled a Cowboys drive by intercepting Moore at the 17 and returning it past midfield. Two plays later, Cowboys safety Barry Church forced a Williams fumble that was recovered by linebacker Brandon Carr and brought out to the 39 following a personal foul penalty on Williams.
The Cowboys' Dan Bailey kicked a 46-yard field goal five minutes into the game and a 22-yarder that made it 6-6 five minutes before halftime. In between, Bailey missed a 50-yard attempt, just his second miss of the season.
Buffalo squandered a chance to take the lead just before halftime when Taylor was intercepted in the end zone by Cowboys cornerback Deji Olatoye after driving the Bills down to the 2-yard line.
NOTES: Cowboys TE Jason Witten caught a pass in his 118th consecutive game, breaking Michael Irvin's franchise record. ... Bills DT Marcell Dareus (shoulder) and WR Marcus Easley (knee) left in the second quarter and did not return. ... The Cowboys lost S Barry Church (broken arm) in the fourth quarter and WR Devin Street (concussion) in the second quarter. Street started in place of WR Dez Bryant (foot). Cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring) also missed the game. ... Cowboys DE Jeremy Mincey was inactive, despite not being listed on the injury report. ... In addition to RB LeSean McCoy, Bills starters CB Ronald Darby (groin), LB Nigel Bradham (ankle), and TE Charles Clay (back) were inactive.