In my opinion, these plays were the most crucial to the lack of success in this game, contributing greatly to a Cowboys loss.
1. MID THIRD QUARTER, 7:39 LEFT, 3RD AND GOAL FROM THE CHIEFS 9 YARD LINE - Dallas had a First and Goal situation on the five yard line which ended up going back to the nine after a sack on first down. With a four wide receiver set and Dez split out to one side, the Cowboys decide to shun Bryant who has a one-on-one matchup and the entire side of the field to his disposal in favor of a wide receiver screen to rookie Terrance Williams which gained exactly -3 yards and produced a field goal. Even if Dez doesn’t come up with a play, wouldn’t you rather take your chances with one of the best receivers in football over a screen pass in a tight space? If Bryant does get the shot and does come up with the play (which was likely), you get a touchdown instead of a field goal and you might be 2-0 today.
2. LATE THIRD QUARTER, 0:52 LEFT, 2ND AND 4 FROM THE COWBOYS 49 YARD LINE – After the Chiefs had just scored to take the lead and regain momentum, Dallas started in a groove. Two completions and a rush that earned them a first down and a manageable second down abruptly came to a halt. Romo chose to dump the ball off to Lance Dunbar in space, who has plenty of field to get a first down but instead, gets stripped of the ball on his way. Not only did this play crush any answer the Cowboys had hoped to provide to the Chiefs go ahead score, but it also put Kansas City in immediate field goal range, which they converted and ultimately represented the insurmountable lead.
3. EARLY FOURTH QUARTER, 9:03 LEFT, 2ND AND 10 FROM THE COWBOYS 21 YARD LINE - The Cowboys have another situation where they get Dez Bryant in single coverage and this time, they don’t pass it up. Bryant runs a go route and beats his man. Romo puts an absolutely perfect pass, right on the hands of Bryant in stride… and he bobbles it out-of-bounds. At worst, it’s a 40+ yard completion that puts Dallas on the right side of field. With Bryant’s speed, the space he already had and Romo’s perfect placement, it is possible Dez goes 79 yards for six. Instead, it is third and ten which turns into nothing and once again, kills any hope for momentum Dallas could have produced.
4. LATE FOURTH QUARTER, 2:32 LEFT, 3RD AND 10 FROM THE CHIEFS 44 YARD LINE – Dallas has the Chiefs in a third and long situation with the 2:00 minute warning in their pocket. If they can get the Chiefs off the field, they’ll have one last chance to get out with a W. Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith throws a quick slant which is defended by Morris Claiborne. Incomplete pass… except that there is a flag on the field… and it’s pass interference. Was it really pass interference? Debatable. I have seen it called and not called. Personally, I would not have called it because A. the contact made did not impede the receiver from making a play and B. even without any contact made by Claiborne, if the pass gets completed, it’s three yards short of a first down and the Chiefs have to punt anyways. Instead, game over. The Chiefs are able to run the clock down to under 0:20 and win the game.
If any one of these plays went the Cowboys way, we would be talking about a completely different game. For all four of these plays to go the other way, coupled with the lackluster play of the offense, this was a bad loss for Dallas. Whenever you go on the road and only give up 17 points, you should walk away with a win. With the 0-2 Rams coming to town Sunday morning, the offense needs to get in gear and get this team back on the right track.