For the second time in their last three games, the Dallas Cowboys are on the short end of the win-loss stick. Much unlike their thumping at the hands of the Denver Broncos in Week 9, however, the Dallas defense was wired and ready to play ball against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 -- led by another dynamic day from rookie sensation Micah Parsons -- but Dak Prescott and the normally prolific offense was again held out of the end zone and mustered only three field goals in a fight they remained in despite a slew of mistakes.
It took a lot for the Cowboys to lose at Arrowhead Stadium, and little of it lies in the lap of a defense that held Mahomes to no touchdowns and the Chiefs to only three points in the second half. But it seemed for every takeaway stolen or punt forced, Prescott and the offense found a way to undermine it, in yet another uncharacteristic outing for a quarterback who's often been in MVP discussions this season.
"Never discouraged, but pissed off, yeah sure," Prescott said following the 19-9 loss at Arrowhead Stadium. "I'm pissed when I don't play well or the team doesn't play well, or the offense doesn't play well for the fact of tonight, in general, especially when you have the chance to come out and play against a team that has been in the Super Bowl the last two years and prove to ourselves and one another what we're capable of."
Prescott threw two interceptions -- one negating a sack fumble by Parsons late in the second quarter -- and also fumbled at the hands of Frank Clark. The fumble was recovered by Chris Jones, his former Mississippi State teammate who reintroduced himself to Prescott with a career-high four-fumble outing, in a game that nearly saw All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith return from his ankle injury but didn't; and his absence (along with four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper) was glaring.
Two drops a piece by Cedrick Wilson Jr. and Noah Brown didn't help the cause, either.
In all, it was as duplicitous an outing as the Cowboys have seen this year, and while the usual culprit is the defense, this time it was the offense, while the defense desperately attempted to save the day. They won't have time to lick their wounds though, because they'll face off with another AFC West opponent when they host the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving -- quarterback Derek Carr carrying an equal level of fury as Prescott after seeing the Raiders drop a third consecutive game.
"It's a short week and we've got to put it past us," said Prescott. "We know the stretch ahead. There's a lot that we can learn from tonight and this is a resilient team that is going to continue to fight and get better, I can promise you that."
Similar to the loss to the Broncos, Prescott will look to use this as fuel going forward.
"It sucks but I can tell you we're a confident group," said the two-time Pro Bowler. "The defense did plenty for us to come back and win this game. The offense didn't get the job done. That starts with me and it starts with the way that we communicate and execute.
"I've got a lot of confidence in this group. Like I said, we're a resilient group that's going to get better so there are no worries or discouragement on what our future holds. We've just got to learn from this and make sure that we take advantage of an opportunity on the road against a great team like this the next time."
And so the question again arises: is there a blueprint to defeating the Cowboys?
"No, we just didn't execute," Prescott reiterated. " ... We've got to turn the page and we would've done this win or lose. We've got to turn it quick. We've got a good team coming in Thursday. We've got to make sure we're getting our bodies and our minds rested and in the right spot to go out there and to bounce back."
Currently sitting at 7-3 on the season and thanks to the Minnesota Vikings defeating the Green Bay Packers in Week 11, the Cowboys remain in striking distance of the top seed in the NFC, but they'll have to get back to stringing together wins to avoid losing ground to the Arizona Cardinals atop the conference. Also attempting to overtake the Packers and keep the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their rear view, and with only seven regular season games remaining, any added missteps become that much more magnified in the race to the playoffs.
They'll likely be without both Cooper and CeeDee Lamb -- who suffered a concussion on Sunday -- when the Raiders arrive, adding that much more adversity for an offense coming off of a forgettable outing. Prescott has seen the Cowboys bounce back before and, refusing to make excuses rooted in who's not available to play, is planning on seeing it again in short order.
"I'm not worried about how this team is going to respond," he said. "As long as I'm a part of this team, quarterbacking this offense, that's the least of my worries is how we're going to respond. We're a resilient bunch. These guys and their atmosphere got the best of us tonight. It's part of the game.
"We'll be better because of it."