Maybe the Cowboys should lobby for a Week 2 bye in the future. For the second consecutive season, they followed up an exciting win over the New York Giants with a loss.
The only slightly redeeming thing about this year’s Week 2 loss is the Cowboys didn’t get blown off the field. But Andy Reid’s dominance of the Cowboys continued with Kansas City’s 17-16 win in front of a raucous Arrowhead Stadium crowd. A week after collecting six takeaways against the Giants, the Cowboys ran into a team that refused to self-destruct. It was the Cowboys who suffered two turnovers in the loss.
Monte Kiffin’s defense only allowed one field goal off those two turnovers in the second half, but they both halted what appeared to be promising drives for the Cowboys. Wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had only four catches for 22 yards against the Giants, punished the Chiefs for making the curious decision to only assign one cornerback to him. Brandon Flowers might be the Chiefs’ best cover man, but he was no match for Bryant.
The Cowboys’ fourth-year player used his freakish athleticism to take a ball away from Flowers and turn it into a 53-yard reception on the first possession of the game. And on the Cowboys’ second possession, he laid out completely to catch a 38-yard pass to set up his own 2-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. It seemed irrelevant that Dallas couldn’t run the ball against the Chiefs because quarterback Tony Romo and Bryant were so impressive.
The Cowboys quickly drove to the Chiefs’ 4-yard line to start the second half. But a false start on left guard Ron Leary put them in a third-and-goal situation from the 9. On that play, Romo appeared to call an audible. Bryant, who lined up alone on the left side, put his hands up to indicate he didn’t hear the change. Romo threw a lateral pass to rookie Terrance Williams that was doomed from the start, which forced the Cowboys to settle for a short field goal.
The Chiefs responded with a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by Dwayne Bowe’s 12-yard touchdown catch. With the Cowboys trailing 14-13, Romo connected with backup tailback Lance Dunbar on a short pass near midfield. The ball was stripped and Chiefs safety Eric Berry scooped it up and returned it 22 yards to the Cowboys’ 31 yards. The Cowboys’ defense held the Chiefs to a 40-yard field goal and then made another key stand following a Romo fumble. On the ensuing drive, Romo delivered a perfect pass to Bryant who was streaking down the sideline all alone. The ball glanced off Bryant’s fingers with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter. At worst, the Cowboys would’ve had the ball first-and-10 in Chiefs’ territory. But it’s likely Bryant could’ve taken it the distance.
He finished with nine catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. But the drop proved to be costly. For the most part, the Cowboys’ defense held the Chiefs’ running game in check and sacked Alex Smith four times. But a week after being plus-five in turnover margin, the Cowboys were minus-two against the Chiefs. And Andy Reid improved to 18-11 all-time against the Cowboys.
There’s no shame in a 1-1 start in what appears to be a watered-down NFC East. But the Cowboys did let a golden opportunity slip away.