KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Just last week – a mere seven days ago to be exact – I wrote in this very space how the Cowboys sent a message to the rest of the league with how they completely manhandled the Falcons.
Well, you have to wonder if they didn't just send another one to the NFL.
And if so, it's not the kind of message you want to be passing along.
Whether this is a legitimate message or not, trust me when I say there are plenty of people around the NFL wondering just how good this Cowboys team really is, especially against the elite teams.
Because this was a showdown game. This was the one we've had circled since the schedule was announced back in the spring.
This game was the heavyweight fight and one that Jerry Jones said would be a "hallmark" win if they could come out of Kansas City with a big road win against a team that has been in the last two Super Bowls.
And while it's obvious the Cowboys are a bit shorthanded in some key areas with star players missing for a variety of reasons, the rest of the team didn't really step up to carry the load – at all.
I thought it was supposed to be "Next Man Up." Sadly, it just wasn't on this day in Kansas City, at least not on the offensive side of the ball.
Sure, if you would've told me before the game that the Chiefs would score just 19 points and Patrick Mahomes would not a throw a touchdown and he'd have two turnovers, I would've thought the Cowboys would be enjoying a double-digit victory.
Oh, speaking of, yes it was me who picked the Cowboys to win by 10 points, something like 38-28. Hmm, I was only about 30 points off.
And the key word was "off." That's exactly what the Cowboys were from the very start – from the first play of the game and maybe even before that.
Last week, head coach Mike McCarthy decided to take the ball after winning the toss and it worked as the offense marched down the field and scored. This week, it backfired as the Cowboys were off the field after three plays and they surely could've used getting the ball to start the third quarter, trailing 16-3.
But you can argue the first play of the game set the tone for the whole day – and it wasn't a good one. Dak Prescott completely misfired with Michael Gallup streaking down the field by himself. Maybe Gallup scores, or at least gets about 40-50 yards and into scoring position. Instead, Prescott overshoots the target and the Cowboys eventually punted two plays later.
At the time, you're thinking it's just a missed opportunity. But surely there will be more, right? No, not really. Not on this day where the Cowboys couldn't block the Chiefs up front.
In addition, the receivers really couldn't get open, and it went from bad to worse when CeeDee Lamb suffered a concussion before the half on an interception Dak threw in the end zone. Talk about a double whammy. The Cowboys are looking to get some points to take into halftime, and instead it's an interception and your best receiver on the field is now in the concussion protocol.
And the game just continued to go that way for the Cowboys, who were hanging in there defensively. Micah Parsons is a complete animal and continues to "wow" us each week. The defense came up big at times, even though it's not easy to keep stopping Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Mahomes on a consistent basis. The Chiefs had their big plays but giving up 19 points to them on the road should be enough to win.
It just wasn't. You have to blame the entire offense – not just the line but the quarterback, too. Dak again had one of the worst games of his career, and now that's two in the last three games.
Against Denver, you thought maybe the calf injury and the two-week layoff was a factor. He got an excuse there, especially with the way he responded last week against the Falcons.
But now it's happened again, and on a big stage where the world was watching his matchup against Mahomes – the player who has a Super Bowl ring, has an MVP award and has a Super Bowl MVP honor, too.
Those are levels Dak is trying to reach, but he looked far from that on Sunday. Yes, he'll look way better when Tyron Smith is blocking his blind side and Amari Cooper is running routes and CeeDee Lamb is out there for a full game and Ezekiel Elliott is not dealing with ankle and knee issues.
But sometimes MVP-caliber quarterbacks are supposed to take the team to another level, despite all of the other issues. If anything, they're at least going to get their team in the end zone once, if not a few times.
Hey, I'm not putting this all on Dak right now. I still think he's a great quarterback and will have a great season. But this was his moment to show the world that he's on that Mahomes level and maybe he's a player that needs to be in the MVP consideration.
Those two things can still happen, but he'll need a few other performances to overshadow what happened here in KC.
But let's shift this back to the entire team. It wasn't just Dak's moment to show everyone, it was the Cowboys with the chance to let us all know where they stand among the top teams in the NFL.
What they showed us is that they're not ready to take that leap, at least not on Sunday.
Let's get this clear, though. The Cowboys are 7-3 and still in good shape to accomplish all of their goals. Yes, the NFC East race is tightening a bit but with key players coming back in the fold, the Cowboys can look like a vastly different team than what we saw against the Chiefs.
But until then, we have to go by what we see. And what we saw on Sunday was a team that wasn't up for the challenge.
The good thing to that is there are a lot more challenges on the horizon, including one in about four days from now.