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  • With the Sunday afternoon win, Dallas has now won its last three straight games, while Kansas City has lost three of their last four games.
By Michael Beller
November 05, 2017

Three thoughts from the Cowboys’ 28–17 win over the Chiefs.

1. The Cowboys came up with their best defensive performance of the season. The Chiefs entered Week 9 third in the league in both total offense at 377.9 yards per game and scoring at 29.5 points per game. Coming into this game, Alex Smith had thrown for 2,181 yards, 8.42 yards per attempt and 16 touchdowns against zero interceptions. Kareem Hunt was first in the NFL with 763 rushing yards, and among backs with at least 100 carries, tops at 5.23 yards per carry.

The Cowboys forced that offense into one of its worst games of the season—and iced the game by picking off Smith, his first interception of the season. Hunt ran for just 37 yards on nine carries, and totaled just 61 yards from scrimmage. They had trouble with Travis Kelce, but they did their job by limiting Hunt and Tyreek Hill (for the most part). With Dak Prescott controlling the action on the other side of the ball, that was more than enough.

2. Cause for concern in Kansas City? Four weeks ago, the Chiefs were the toast of the NFL. They were 5–0—the only undefeated team in the NFL—and in total command of the AFC West. The latter hasn’t changed, but their primacy in the AFC has. The Chiefs have lost three of their last four games, falling to 6–3 with their bye ahead in Week 10. Their losses have come against two teams we know are good—the Steelers and Cowboys—and a third, the Raiders, that remains in the playoff hunt. Pending the outcome of the Sunday night game between the Raiders and Dolphins, the Chiefs will be up by either two games or 2.5 games in the AFC West, so they remain in control of the division. For the first time all season, though, they are looking up at two teams in the AFC, with the Patriots and Steelers half a game ahead of them in the standings. Home field advantage is crucial in the NFL, and the Chiefs enjoy one of the strongest such advantages in the NFL. They’ll have a much better chance to put the playoff disappointments of the Smith/Andy Reid era behind them if they’re playing at home in the Divisional Round. That possibility is in doubt for the first time all season. They’re upcoming schedule, however, is favorable. After the bye, they visit the Giants, host the bills, and then head back to New Jersey for a game with the Jets.

3. A different kind of Hail Mary. Every NFL season is sure to produce at least a handful of unlikely last-second touchdowns. The traditional Hail Mary is exciting, to be sure, but every football fan has seen it before and knows exactly what it looks like.

This, from Alex Smith to Tyreek Hill, was no traditional Hail Mary.

Outside of not making the tackle, the Cowboys didn’t everything any team would do in that situation before the pass. The Chiefs were on their own 44-yard line with two seconds left in the half. The Cowboys sent all of their defenders deep to protect the goal line, as expected. After the pass, however, they did everything wrong Smith’s not a threat to uncork a pass from that part of the field all the way into the end zone, so, instead, he got the ball to the Chiefs best playmaker in space. The Cowboys played right into Hill’s hands, giving him all the space he wanted, and letting him and his blockers set up just the protection he wanted. From there, it played almost like a punt return. All it took was a few moves from Hill, a few blocks from his teammates, and a little speed around the edge, and Hill was in the end zone.

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