Perhaps the most frustrating anomaly in the game of football is the best team on the field doesn't always win. After Sunday's loss to the Cowboys the Chiefs can attest to that painful reality.
At the outset of the game it looked as if the Chiefs might be able to cruise to a victory with relative ease. For the majority of the first half the Chiefs were able to dominate Dallas and their 6th ranked defense. Midway through the second quarter running back Larry Johnson had already accounted for two rushing touchdowns while quarterback Trent Green seemingly had his pick of open receivers every time he dropped back to pass. The Chiefs offense was beating the Cowboys defense in every facet of the game and you started to get the feeling that the Chiefs might be able to put this one away early.
The Kansas City defense had their share of success as well as they held the Cowboys to 3 points on their first three possessions. It was the Cowboys fourth possession however that would put the wheels in motion for a Dallas victory and from that point on the Chiefs would find themselves in a dog fight.
Though the Chiefs defenders were forcing the Cowboy's offense to punt they were doing so with aggressive run support from their safeties. Sammie Knight and Greg Wesley had already combined for nine tackles by the time the Cowboys offense reached their fourth possession. With 4 minutes left in the second half Dallas decided to dig into their bag of tricks and see if they couldn't catch the over zealous Chiefs safeties off guard with a little slight of hand. On 2nd and 7 the Drew Bledsoe handed off to running back Marion Barber on what appeared to be a dive play. Barber then pitched the ball back to Bledsoe for the infamous "Flea Flicker" and Bledsoe connected with a wide open Terry Glenn for a cheap74 yard touchdown.
With the score now 14-10 the Cowboys were starting to show a little bit of life. The Chiefs however had a chance to steal the momentum back with 3:47 left in the half. If the Chiefs could march down the field and add another touchdown before half time it would undoubtedly suck most of the wind out of the Cowboy's sails.
Determined to answer the Cowboys score the Chiefs put together a well orchestrated drive and drove the length of the field. With 1:16 left in the first half it appeared inevitable that Chiefs would score another touchdown and close the half with a 21-10 lead; that was until the unthinkable happened. On 2nd and 9 from the nine yard line the Chiefs foolishly tried to put the ball in the air. At the same time Dallas had their left outside linebacker Scott Fujita bringing pressure from Trent Green's blind side. Fujita was left unblocked at the line of scrimmage but tailback Larry Johnson had the assignment of picking him up. Unfortunately for Kansas City when Fujita reached the backfield Larry Johnson dropped his head and tried to block Fujita at the thighs. Fujita easily sidestepped Johnson only to sack Trent Green and force a fumble.
From there things got worse for the Chiefs as defensive end Marcus Spears picked up the turnover and ran it back 59 yards the other way. Three plays later Drew Bledsoe hit tight end Jason Witten in the back of the end zone for a 26 yard touchdown. This 14 point swing in the last two minutes of the second half would prove to be crucial by the end of the day. At halftime the score was 14-17 Cowboys.
When the teams returned for the second half Kansas City showed a dogged determination to reclaim control of the game. In the third quarter the Chiefs defense held the Cowboys to consecutive three and outs on their first two possessions. Meanwhile while Kansas City's offense had once again marched down and scored on one of their two possessions. By the time the third quarter had ended Larry Johnson had scored his third touchdown of the day and the Chiefs had retaken the lead with a score of 21-17.
During the Cowboys three scoring drives of the first half they suddenly discovered they no longer needed to keep two tight ends and a tailback in as extra blockers. As it turned the much maligned Dallas offensive line was fully capable of handling the Chiefs front four without any help. This made max protection a thing of the past and the Cowboys to utilize their tight ends and running backs in shallow routes while Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson pulled the secondary deep.
As the third quarter ran in to the fourth the Cowboys had the ball and Bledsoe was finally moving his team for the first time in the second half. Terry Glenn and Jason Witten were once again running free through the Chiefs secondary while Kansas City's pass rush fell from silent to non existent.
As the Cowboys offense crept closer to the end zone it was evident that the Chiefs were about to surrender another touchdown and thus surrender the lead. Kansas City was in desperate need of a big play and little did they know opportunity would soon come their way. From Kansas City's 15 yard line Bledsoe threw to his tight end Dan Campbell on an out pattern but the pass happened to ricochet off of his fingertips. The pass ended up sailing right in to the hands of cornerback Patrick Surtain but Surtain was unable to control it and bring it in. Had Surtain been able to reel in the interception he would have had a free 85 yard shot up the sideline for an easy six.
Two plays after Surtain had dropped his interception the Cowboys tricked the Chiefs defense for the second time of the day with an end around to Terry Glenn that resulted in a touchdown. This gave the Cowboys 24 points and a three point lead.
The Chiefs would miss their second big opportunity of the day on the following Cowboys possession. With 12:08 left in the 4th quarter Drew Bledsoe dropped back on his own 30 and was sacked by Jared Allen. When Allen sacked the Dallas quarterback he also stripped the football but running back Marion Barber was there for the recovery before any of the Chiefs defenders could pounce on it. In the end the Chiefs were able to force the Cowboys to punt but a 25 yard march to the end zone could have been their saving grace against the surging Cowboys.
On the ensuing Chiefs possession Kansas City continued to pound it away on the ground with Larry Johnson. With the Cowboy defense giving up chunks of yards to Johnson it was time for the Chiefs to strike Dallas with another deep pass. With 4:04 left in the game Trent Green hit a wide open Eddie Kennison on the right sideline for a 47 yard touchdown strike. The Chiefs had once again pulled ahead for the lead at 28-24 and all they needed now was one more stop by their defense.
In similar fashion to years past that one hopeful stop on defense would never come. The Cowboys got the ball back with 3:50 on the clock and drove 68 yards for a touchdown. On that final drive the Chiefs failed to stop the Cowboys on two separate third down conversions. A fourth down conversion was also made on the goal line due to a defensive holding call on linebacker Derrick Johnson.
The Cowboys scored their final touchdown of the game by throwing a pass to tight end Dan Campbell in the back of the end zone. Dallas now had a three point lead with 22 seconds on the clock and the only thing they had left to do was kick the ball to Dante Hall.
Dallas was fortunate enough to kick the ball to the 1 yard line but Hall ended up getting a decent return of 29 yards. Then with 00:16 on the clock Trent Green took the field with his high powered offense. His first pass was a 14 yard strike to Sammie Parker on the right sideline which moved the ball to the 42 and left 00:10 on the clock. Green then followed that up with a 34 yard bullet to Dante Hall in the middle of the field that stopped the clock at 00:02 and placed the ball on the Dallas 24 yard line.
On the last play of the game Lawrence Tynes had the opportunity to kick a 41 yard field goal and send the game in to overtime. Unfortunately Tynes kick sailed wide right after a low snap altered the normal timing and placement. Final score Chiefs 28 Dallas 31.
Fortunately for the Chiefs their primary competitor for the AFC's final wild card spot is the San Diego Chargers and they too lost their game this week at home to the Miami Dolphins. At the same time however Dallas was the most beatable team that remained on Kansas City's schedule so if they hope to get it done over the next three weeks they will have to drastically elevate their game. With one more loss the Chiefs chances at the playoffs are done.
The Point After: Chiefs vs. Cowboys
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