KANSAS CITY – Statistically speaking, the Cowboys defense gave a strong showing in the 17-16 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday.
The Chiefs tallied just 313 yards of offense, and they were 4-of-13 in converting third downs. Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles was held to a manageable 55 yards, and Alex Smith was sacked four times.
But any of that praise rang hollow in the ears of Jason Hatcher.
"We played great up front and made some plays – made some clutch plays and got the ball back to the offense," Hatcher said. "But when it counted, we just didn't show up tonight. So we've just got to get better."
Hatcher was referring to the Chiefs' final possession of the game. Kansas City took the field with 3:50 to play, leading by just one point. They proceeded to hand off to Charles, who took seven of his 16 carries and earned 45 of his 55 yards with the game on the line.
With the aid of Charles, plus a defensive pass interference penalty, the Chiefs held the ball until just 29 seconds remained. Game over.
"Right there at the end, the defense lost the game," Hatcher said.
It's a harsh assessment, particularly from one of the Cowboys' best performers Sunday. If anyone has cause to feel good following the loss, it might be Hatcher, who was tied for second on the team with six tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack. The eight year veteran also notched a quarterback hit and deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage.
Hatcher said he would have been pleased with the performance following a win. As he doesn't need reminding, that wasn't the case.
A big cause for the consternation is the lack of turnovers against a cautious Kansas City offense. It was probably a bit much to expect another six takeaways, but Hatcher said the Cowboys hold themselves to a standard of winning the turnover battle.
"They got two turnovers, and we've got to outplay their defense," he said. "If they got two turnovers, then we've got to get four."
It's the second straight season the Cowboys have fallen to 1-1 with a road loss after a successful opener. As Hatcher and several others noted, this loss wasn't quite the debacle as last year's Week 2 loss to Seattle. Despite the setback, he said the Cowboys defense is in good shape.
"I don't like to look back on last year, but definitely. We're playing some great ball right now," he said. "The defense came up short tonight, we'll take it – we lost the game. We've just got to keep plugging and come back next week and get turnovers like we usually do."