Chiefs 19, Cowboys 9 … and our 10 Whitty Observations …
10. WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WEEK MAKES - Last Sunday in the first half the Cowboys scored 36 points. Today in the first half? Three.
9. SACKED, STOPPED - The Cowboys entered the game having allowed only 12 sacks of Dak Prescott, but the lineup-shuffling necessitated by Tyron Smith's injury opened the flood gates.
The quarterback was sacked a season-high five times, including 3.5 by Chris Jones. Terrence Steele was slow out of his stance, Connor McGovern (replacing Connor Williams) struggled and even Zack Martin wasn't his usual impenetrable self. Injuries + Inconsistency = The Cowboys' first game without at least two offensive touchdowns this season and the first time without at least one since November 2020 in a 23-9 loss at Philadelphia started by the late, great Ben DiNucci.
8. ROTTEN REFS? - Felt like the officials threw horrendous flags on both teams, but notably was a no-call on what clearly was illegal contact in the end zone against Michael Gallup just before halftime. Prescott threw an interception a couple plays later, continuing a theme of Dallas drives that ultimately fizzled.
Not to say referee John Hussey is a "homer", but his crew has now officiated seven consecutive wins by the home team.
7. RESPECT FOR DEFENSE - From Micah Parsons chasing down Patrick Mahomes to Jayron Kearse's interception, Dallas' defense deserved to win. Before the game, Dan Quinn - and most fans - would have readily accepted the Chiefs only scoring 19 points.
Parsons, in fact, is a jump-out story here. The rookie linebacker-who-isn't-just-a-linebacker was everywhere, a one-man gang ... and yet is convinced he wasn't/isn't good enough.
“I’m just hungry (to improve),'' the first-round pick said. "I think it’s just been glimpses. I don’t think I’ve found my true self yet.”
Micah has 5.5 sacks in the last three games, including two today, and eight for the year. He is now the just the second rookie in the last 20 seasons with eight-plus sacks and 40-plus tackles in his first 10 career games.
The other guy: 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller.
Hey, how about if Dallas just makes him an edge-rusher full-time?
“That just limits …what I can do,'' he said, adding that the Cowboys coaches "are doing a really good job of playing to my strengths.”
His strengths are many. On this day, he sort of stood alone.
Cowboys LISTEN: Would Benching Zeke Be a 'Panic Button' Move?
"It will be good to get a break," Ezekiel Elliott says.
Tank’s Return is ‘Electric,’ Says Cowboys’ Lawrence
“I’m just glad to be back,” Tank says. “Thankful I can play this game of football that I love.”
No ‘Cheetos’ for Micah … Who Plays Like Barry Sanders?!
“I don’t think it’s time for me to sit on my couch, smiling, eating Cheetos. I’m trying to do something way bigger than anybody thought we could do this year.” - Micah Parsons.
6. MVP MIA? - The Cowboys without Prescott this season are 1-0. Without Tyron Smith they are 1-2. Just a dramatic fall-off when the Pro Bowl left tackle isn't in the lineup.
5. CROWD CONTROL - The Cowboys might have played loud music to prepare for the raucous atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium, but apparently they should have turned it up a notch or two. In an ugly first half, Dallas committed four pre-snap penalties with two false starts, a defensive offside and 12 men in the huddle. And though it didn't draw a flag the biggest play of the first half was left tackle Terrence Steele not hearing the snap count and remaining in his stance, allowing a strip-sack of Dak Prescott that the Chiefs turned into a field goal and a 9-0 lead. The Cowboys looked discombobulated from the start.
Arrowhead's noise contributed to the chaos.
"Yeah,'' Steele said of the play and the day, "pretty much couldn’t hear.''
4. OUT OF WHACK - When you clearly can't protect a quarterback who is throwing to backup receivers, the situation seems to scream for more Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in the running game. But the Cowboys attempted only 16 rushes to 43 passes. Obviously, that was a losing strategy.
3. LESS THAN BEST VS. AFC WEST - Ominous news for Thanksgiving Day: The Cowboys have struggled offensively against the AFC West, home to the Las Vegas Raiders. In three games against that division, the Cowboys are 1-2 (a win over the Chargers and losses to the Broncos and Chiefs) and have only averaged 15 points (16 points came in garbage time in the blowout loss to Denver).
In their other seven games, they are 6-1 and score 35.7 points per game.
2. OUCH, OFFENSE - Question entering the game was how would the Cowboys fill the void left by Amari Cooper's absence. That problem was magnified in the second half after CeeDee Lamb left the game with a concussion.
The answer to both questions: They didn't.
Without their two leading receivers, the Cowboys' offense sputtered a complete halt. Noah Brown dropped two passes. Same with Cedrick Wilson. Prescott wasn't accurate. The offensive line didn't provide protection. And Dallas' backup receivers didn't make plays.
There are explanations for the performance, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the worst of the season by the NFL's No. 1 offense.
1. HOLIDAY HORROR - On Halloween night the Cowboys beat the Vikings with their backup quarterback to improve to 6-1. Now, as our holiday thoughts turn to Thanksgiving, fans are suddenly more nervous than a gaggle of turkeys.
Dallas heads into Thursday's quick turnaround game having lost two of three and being burdened by a litany of high-profile injuries to its best offensive lineman (Smith), top two leading receivers (Lamb and Cooper) and best two pass-rushers. The leisurely Sunday stroll to the playoffs just grew precarious.
But, said coach Mike McCarthy: “We’re (7-3). It’s a long season. We need to be better. That’s our outlook.”