It was pegged as a contest that would light up the scoreboard, but quickly turned into anything but. When the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, it was the defense of both teams that took center stage and forced Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes into an awful outing for the former and a rather pedestrian one for the latter. Mahomes performed better, yes, but was mostly contained by a Dallas defense that didn't allow him to register a single touchdown and, meanwhile, Prescott was brutalized by a Kansas City front led by Chris Jones -- with cornerback L'Jarius Sneed picking the rest of the meat from his bones.
And so it was that neither Prescott nor Mahomes were the stars of a game they headlined, but that's just fine by the Chiefs, who walked away victorious and understand you don't get style points in the NFL. It's all about beating who's in front of you on a weekly basis, be it by one point or by 40, and they now move to 7-4 atop the AFC West as the Cowboys fall to a still admirable 7-3 after an outing that was anything but.
Why the Chiefs won
Things got underway at Arrowhead Stadium and immediately saw the Chiefs landing blows in all three phases of the game -- quickly stopping Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys on their first offensive possession of the day before marching down the field to draw first blood with a touchdown. The TD also wasn't lacking for pizzazz, with All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce taking a direct snap into the end zone from 4 yards out. They were in full control at that point but looking for more, using another trick play to get Clyde Edwards-Helaire into the end zone to stretch the lead against a Cowboys offense that usually strikes at-will but, on Sunday, couldn't figure out how to tie their own shoes.
And once the Chiefs offense force an already struggling Cowboys offense into becoming one-dimensional, it was basically a party at the quarterback from that point forward. Chris Jones racked up a career-high four sacks against Prescott in what can only be described as a little MSU-on-MSU crime (seeing as they were former teammates at Mississippi State) and Frank Clark got in on the action as well -- forcing a fumble during his sack that was recovered by (guess who?) Jones, and Jarran Reed rounded out the sack party by putting hands on Prescott as well.
Toss in two interceptions by the Chiefs defense and, on a night that saw Mahomes and his stable of speedy weapons mostly made pedestrian by a strong Cowboys defensive effort, it was the Kansas City defense that stole the show, the stage and the curtains, too.
Why the Cowboys lost
Prescott saw a couple of overthrows mix in with receiver drops, penalties and missed blocks to start the game, and it all created a pot luck of poor offensive play that resonated throughout the entire game. They simply couldn't get out of their own way, and when they did and needed some aid from the officiating crew -- e.g., on the controversial non-DPI call that would've placed them on the one-yard line with a chance to shrink their deficit to three points in the third quarter -- they didn't get that, either. Instead, for the totality of four quarters, they saw their defense play aggressive football that held Mahomes to zero touchdowns and while forcing him into 14 incompletions and an interception, also mostly keeping a lid on Edwards-Helaire in the process.
Yet, that didn't matter, and neither did the fact Micah Parsons was again playing like man possessed en route adding two more sacks to his first-year tally, plus a forced fumble the Cowboys were able to recover before the offense went on to do absolutely nothing with the opportunity. If you'd told the Cowboys ahead of the game they'd hold the Chiefs to only 19 points at Arrowhead Stadium without Randy Gregory, Neville Gallimore or DeMarcus Lawrence -- forcing them to fail on eight of 12 third-down conversions as well -- the only presumption would be a definitive win.
Instead, in the absence of Cooper and even before losing Lamb, the most prolific offense in football stalled for the second time in its last three games -- mustering only three field goals, failing to convert on 10 of their 15 third-down attempts and giving the ball away three times to negate everything their defensive counterparts were doing. The Cowboys even won the time of possession battle, another promising stat made futile by an offensive effort that was nothing short of unforgivable.
It turns out it only took two TDs for the Chiefs to win, and this was the spiciest one -- on their second trick play of the day.
Play of the Game
If Lamb comes down with this catch, it's a 16-10 game going into the half, but Ward made sure that wasn't the case.
Cowboys aren't hanging their heads
"They played well. ... Next time, we'll be better in this type of environment -- we don't feel any less about who we are as a football team, let's be clear." - Mike McCarthy in his post-game press conference
The Cowboys will return home to face the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving while the Chiefs head into their bye week for a late-season break.