The key plays, stats and grades from the KC Chiefs’ 28-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
Player of the game: Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott was outstanding, completing 21 of 33 passes for 249 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 106.8. He also rushed three times for 27 yards and a touchdown.
Reason to hope: At 6-3, the Chiefs remain atop the AFC West and have one of the league’s easiest schedules the rest of the way.
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Reason to mope: There are still so many things that need to improve if the Chiefs want to be considered legit Super Bowl contenders. The running game has gone stagnant. The secondary isn’t making enough plays. The pass rush isn’t good enough. The run defense remains a huge question mark.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs will get a chance to rest and recuperate this week, thanks to the bye. They’ll get back to work next week as they begin preparations for a road test against the New York Giants on Nov. 19.
Rushing offense: For those of you keeping score at home, this is the third time in four games I’ve handed these guys an “F” in the running game. Stud rookie Kareem Hunt was again held in check, rushing only nine times for 37 yards. Injuries have played a role here, but the Chiefs had their entire starting line for the first time in a month Sunday, so there are no more excuses. The line has not been as good as it was the first month of the season, and it is not creating as much push as it used to. I still believe this is a good unit, but the players need to take the bye week, recuperate and come back refreshed and ready to move some people. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough sledding the rest of the way.
Passing offense: Given the amount of pressure quarterback Alex Smith was under (two sacks, three hits, constant harassment), he didn’t have a bad day. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns, and despite throwing his first interception of the season, he finished with a passer rating of 102.9. Tight end Travis Kelce had a nice day, catching seven passes for 73 yards and one touchdown.
Rushing defense: Look, anytime you can hold Ezekiel Elliott to 3.4 yards per carry –– he finished with 93 yards and a touchdown in 27 carries –– you’ve done a nice job. Problem is, the Cowboys still finished with 131 yards in 31 carries, thanks to the athleticism of Prescott (27 yards and a touchdown in three carries). This was a passable performance, though.
Passing defense: The Chiefs just couldn’t keep Prescott from doing his thing, despite sacking him once and hitting him four times. They also allowed the Cowboys’ secondary weapons to absolutely light them up –– something I listed as a “key to winning” in my weekly preview. Terrance Williams, Dallas’ No. 2 receiver, had his best game of the season, setting season-highs in catches (nine) and yards (141). He caught every pass that came his way. Meanwhile, Cole Beasley –– the Cowboys’ slot receiver –– only caught four passes for 24 yards but still finished with two touchdowns. The front seven needs to do a better job generating pressure, and the secondary needs to make more plays. Period.
Special teams: Kicker Harrison Butker connected on his 19th straight field goal on his only attempt of the day. Meanwhile, Dustin Colquitt dropped one of his five punts inside the 20. The Cowboys didn’t get an opportunity to return a kickoff (three touchbacks) and they didn’t even manage a yard on the one punt they did return. Fairly nondescript day overall, however.
Coaching: Granted, the Chiefs only had five days to prepare instead of the customary six for this game. But coach Andy Reid likes to place all the blame on himself after losses, so this grade reflects that. He’ll also get the blame for losing three out of the last four, and for this being one of the few times all season Chiefs players didn’t seem to think they brought enough energy on offense, which is unacceptable (especially with the bye week ahead). In the end, the Chiefs basically got locked down by what statistically measures out to be a league-average defense (14th in total yards), as their 323 yards Sunday is right at Dallas’ 324.9-yard average. Dallas’ offense, meanwhile, finished just over their 369-yard per game average with 375. You can argue the score shouldn’t even be as close as it was, since Dallas never should have given someone as dangerous as Tyreek Hill that amount of space they did on his 56-yard touchdown before halftime. No matter how you slice it, the Chiefs just got outcoached and outplayed.