The Cowboys encore performance to their week 1 win over the New York Giants saw them take a 10-7 lead into halftime, but ultimately squander the lead in an inefficient second half against the Kansas City Chiefs. A breakdown of the one-point loss:
Dez Bryant’s first half. Well, the first quarter at least. Bryant responded to being almost completely shut down in week 1 with a dominant first quarter in Kansas City. Dez compiled 100 yards on five catches (five targets) in the first quarter, which included a 53-yard reception despite defensive pass interference, a full-extension grab on a 38-yard Tony Romo pass, and a two-yard touchdown. Bottom line, he looked like a no. 1 receiver in that quarter. Just ask Brandon Flowers, who saw a lot of Dez running right past him.
Bryant finished with nine catches for 141 yards and the first-quarter touchdown. Unfortunately, a dropped pass in the second half would define his day.
Another positive was the special teams. Dan Bailey was money from 51, 53, and 30 yards. The 53-yard bomb was the longest in Bailey’s young career. Dwayne Harris had two returns – one punt, one kick – and showed a burst on both. Harris ran a kick back 35 yards, and went 22 yards on the punt.
I had to think about this one, but I’ll put the defense on the otherwise very short list of positives. Sure, they allowed 17 points, including two long drives – of 77 and 80 yards – that accounted for 14 of those points. And they didn’t record a single takeaway. But after Alex Smith took the Chiefs 77 yards on the opening drive, Monte Kiffin’s crew forced four straight punts on drives of no more than five plays, and blocked a field goal to end the half.
In the second half, the defense allowed another touchdown, but held the Chiefs to a field goal on a drive that started at the Dallas 31 yard line, and forced three more punts on the final three drives. The fact that KC punter Dustin Colquitt is a monster who pinned the Cowboys inside the 20 yard line five different times is out of the control of the defense. Dallas won the time-of-possession category, but lost the field position battle.
Overall, it was a solid performance from the Dallas D. Considering the fact that the league’s second-best scoring defense in 2012 surrendered 17 points per game, the ‘Boys should be able to win a majority of their games if that’s the number on the scoreboard after 60 minutes.
The running game was, well… Choose your negative adjective and insert here. A few choices: pathetic, abysmal, or non-existent, just to get your vocabulary going. The Cowboys averaged 2.3 yards per carry, and got almost one-third of their 37 yards on one Lance Dunbar carry in the third quarter. DeMarco Murray, after averaging 4.3 yards per carry in week 1, posted just 2.1 yards per carry against KC.
Bill Callahan called 42 pass plays, and only 16 run plays. Now, given that he could only count on two yards per rush, one really can’t blame him… But the play calling was questionable. Yes, Bryant recorded four more catches in the second half and had a crucial drop, but no. 88 could have and should have had more chances to make a play.
Bryant was targeted just twice in the second quarter after his monster first 15 minutes. He recorded three of his second-half catches on the opening drive, and didn’t get any targets in the red zone in the final two quarters. And that includes the decision to throw a screen pass to Terrance Williams on third-and-goal while Bryant was staring at single coverage.
Whether that was designed by Callahan or called at the line by Romo, it was not the right decision. And the Cowboys abandoned the Dez-heavy aerial attack that worked so well early in the game.
The last glaring negative has to be the turnovers. Not the number – a team can get away with two turnovers – but the time at which they were committed. The last drive of the third quarter, and the first drive of the fourth quarter are not good times to fumble the football. Period.
Brian Waters played 18 snaps Sunday, which could mean offensive line help is on the way. The line didn’t play exceptionally well (this is what we call a euphemism), but Waters didn’t look like a man who was on his couch a couple weeks ago.
Romo averaged just over seven yards per attempt and didn’t throw an interception. A fourth-quarter interception was called back on a penalty, but he didn’t throw one that counted. And after averaging 5.3 yards per attempt and throwing a pick in week 1, I’ll choose to celebrate progress where I can.