Am I the only one not feeling like the sky is falling? The defense held a healthy Chiefs team to 19 points at home and the offensive line had a completely new left side and was without their top two receivers. I think those things equal more than 10 points and the conversations today are much different. – MARK CHEYNE / MIDDLETOWN, DE
Rob: No doubt the defense was the biggest plus from the game, and I still don't believe the Cowboys and Chiefs are that far apart. If they played again at AT&T Stadium, with a little better health at some key spots, it might be a different outcome. But the bottom line is the Cowboys didn't give themselves enough of a chance to win that game, beyond the things working against them. Can't do that against a team that good, that experienced. I agree with you that the sky isn't falling. There are seven games left. But they've had problems controlling the line of scrimmage in both these recent losses, and the Raiders are coming to town with a pretty good pass rush in their own right.
David: I get where you're coming from, and that defensive performance is worth being excited about. For me, it's just that the Cowboys' offense failed to even put its best foot forward. Yes, they didn't have Amari Cooper or Tyron Smith, but guess what? You're not guaranteed to have them or anyone else as the season goes along and the games get more important. The Cowboys had so many breakdowns that had nothing to do with injury absences – bad passes by Dak, bad drops from the receivers, mindless penalties, you name it. It's definitely not the end of the world, but it was the first time these guys have faltered in the spotlight. They can get better moving forward, but it was just a disappointing showing from what has typically been such an excellent group.
Hindsight is 20/20, but should the Cowboys have run the ball more against the Chiefs to take some pressure off the offensive line with different starters in place (i.e. Terence Steele, Connor McGovern)? – MIKE S / DALLAS, TX
Rob: Mike McCarthy did reference the importance of rhythm with the run game and how good they've been on offense when they've struck a balance. They had 16 runs against the Chiefs, a season low. They averaged 31.8 runs in the first nine games. Now, they've played with a lot of leads this season, so that's always a factor. Ezekiel Elliott (knee contusion) wasn't 100% in the game, but Tony Pollard had some good production and the Chiefs' two-score lead never really felt out of reach until the final couple minutes. So yeah, it's something they'd like to improve on.
David: I'm just not convinced it would have gone anywhere even if they had tried. They were already compromised by not having Amari Cooper, and when CeeDee Lamb went out I think the Chiefs stopped respecting the pass altogether. They had no reason to believe the Cowboys could make them pay for keying on the run, and they seemed to be proven right. I don't mind that the Cowboys weren't stubborn about it, I think they just needed to have some semblance of a downfield threat, and they obviously did not.