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Recap: Cowboys Lose Momentum, Fall 17-16
There was much talk in the days leading up to the Cowboys game at the Chiefs comparing this road trip to the one taken last year in Week 2.
In 2012, Dallas defeated the Giants in Week 1, then headed to Seattle for the second game on the schedule against what many thought would be a weaker opponent. The Seahawks proved to be anything but, as they blew out the Cowboys, 27-7.
This time around, Dallas was again coming off an emotional win over its NFC East rivals and once again was playing on the road against a Week 2 opponent that few expect to be contender this season.
New season, same results, as the Cowboys missed several opportunities in losing to the Chiefs, 17-16, once again beginning the season at 1-1.
After having won the turnover battle with an impressive 5 the week before against the Giants, Dallas was unable to record one takeaway, instead losing two fumbles themselves, the first leading to what would be Kansas City’s final three points.
These two teams appeared evenly matched on paper coming into the game and the stats bore out that they are indeed similar in strength. The Cowboys finished with 20 first downs and 318 total yards. The Chiefs posted numbers of 19 and 313, respectively.
Most of Dallas’ offensive attack came through the air, with Tony Romo passing for 298 yards to Kansas City’s Alex Smith’s 223, but the Chiefs won the ground game, rushing for 114, compared to just 37 for the Cowboys.
Both teams came out of the chute working fast, and gave the impression that this was going to be a barnburner. Taking the first possession of the game, Kansas City appeared unstoppable, marching 77 yards in 13 plays while eating up 6:47 of game clock. Smith rushed five times himself for 41 yards before capping the drive with a pass to Charles from 2 yards out to give the home team a 7-0 lead.
But that would really be the Chiefs only threat of the first half. Despite often being at a disadvantage with field position, the Cowboys defense basically shut down the Kansas City offense for the next quarter and a half. They key came in the pressure the Dallas unit was able to get on Smith, who when not being sacked, still had little room in which to throw.
The only time they came close to putting more points on the board, came with only 13 seconds left in the first half with the Chiefs lined up for a 57-yard field goal attempt. But Orlando Scandrick came darting in from the right side of the Cowboys line to block Ryan Succop’s attempt.
Meanwhile, the Dallas offense did their damage in the first quarter as well. Or rather Romo and Dez Bryant did their damage. On the Cowboys’ first series of the game, the pair connected twice, the first coming when Bryant muscled over the top of his defender to grab the catch, then sprint down the sideline for 53 yards. That led to a 51-yard field goal by Dan Bailey to put the Cowboys on the board.
That little display was just a warm-up, though, as Bryant would go on to finish with a game-high 141 receiving yards on nine catches. On the team’s next possession, Romo threw a deep ball down the left side that Bryant dove to haul in, the play going for 38 yards to the Chiefs 6-yard line. Fittingly, Dallas then reached paydirt when Romo found Bryant streaking across the back of the end zone, the receiver leaping high to bring down the ball. With the ensuing extra point, the Cowboys had a 10-7 lead.
Which is where the score remained heading into the half, as Dallas, much like the Chiefs, was unable to mount much of a threat in the second quarter.
The tables turned in the third, however. After the break, the Cowboys took the first drive and went 55 yards in six plays to set Bailey up with a 30-yard field goal. But that was quickly followed by the Chiefs coming right back and driving the distance, reaching the end zone on a 12-yard pass from Smith to Dwayne Bowe to give Kansas City a 14-13 lead.
And then disaster struck just before the end of the third quarter, as the Cowboys saw backup running back Lance Dunbar cough up the ball, Chiefs safety Eric Berry returning it to the Dallas 31-yard line. While the defense held strong, Kansas City was able to up its advantage to 17-13 with a 40-yard field goal from Succop.
That was then followed by another fumble, this time Romo being stripped from behind by Ron Parker, who also recovered the fumble to give Kansas City possession at the Dallas 35-yard line. But again, the defense held strong, Bruce Carter sacking Smith for a loss of 6 to move the Chiefs out of field goal range.
After the Cowboys had to punt the ball away themselves, forced to when Bryant dropped a deep pass down the right sideline, the team then caught a pair of breaks on its next possession. First, the Chiefs appeared to have the ball downed inside the 5-yard line, but an illegal touch gave Dallas possession at its own 20-yard line.
Then, with the Cowboys moving down the field, Romo appeared to have a ball picked off by Berry at the Kansas City 27, but a questionable holding call on the safety kept the possession with Dallas. That eventually led to a 53-yard field goal by Bailey, the score cut to 17-16 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
But that would it, the Chiefs essentially running out the clock, with Dallas having no legitimate opportunity – they took over at their own 4-yard line with 16 seconds remaining – to mount one last attack.
With the loss, the team fell to 1-1, their third straight season sitting at .500 after two games. The Cowboys will now begin a stretch of three home games in four weeks, beginning with the Rams coming to town next Sunday.