Memory Lane: Cowboys-Chiefs 2009


The Dallas Cowboys have played 9 contests against the Kansas City Chiefs, some in Super Bowl seasons. They’ve played 8 games on 10/11, some in Super Bowl seasons. But a former Cowboy clearly summarizes the most memorable game against the Kansas City Chiefs:

“It was Miles Austin and it was spectacular.”

The former Dallas Cowboys right tackle shared his thoughts on the 10/11/09 matchup during a break while taping the Drew Pearson Show on Fox Sports Southwest.

“I remember that game in particular because that was Miles Austin’s breakout game,” Colombo shared.

For the first two games in 2009, no one knew anything about Miles Austin. All people knew was the Dallas Cowboys started off 2-2 and had lost their #1 wide receiver Roy Williams for a game. After releasing dynamic, mercurial wideout Terrell Owens in the off-season, the Cowboys were banking their passing game on Roy Williams. Now, with Williams out, Dallas didn’t have the big-play offense needed to win games.

In the 1990’s, Dallas could turn to its running game. Today, Dallas hobbled through holes with Felix Jones’ PCL sprain and Marion Barber’s pulled quadriceps. Though Barber would play Sunday against the Chiefs, the Cowboys had a yearning backup in second-year Tashard Choice. His problem was he didn’t get enough touches.

The bye week lay as a healing oasis beyond the Week 5’s offensive desert. If the Cowboys could only beat the 0-4 Chiefs as they should, they could get a healthy Roy Williams, Felix Jones, and Marion Barber post bye.

Despite the snide’s magnetism, the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t going to lie down. Rookie head coach Todd Haley was a former Cowboys receivers coach. As all competitive men want to do, he wanted to beat his former employer and make them think about why they let him walk. He was going to give Dallas everything he had. To send the Cowboys back to the Metroplex with a 2-3 record for the media, disgruntled fans, and detractors to expostulate for two weeks would be delectable.

Dallas took possession to start the game. Four plays into the drive, Dallas called its first timeout of the half. On the next play, Marion Barber lost four yards, and an ineligible receiver downfield call virtually killed the Cowboys’ drive.

Oh, well.

All teams get early game jitters, and the Cowboys weren’t immune by any means. All they needed was the ball back, which Kansas City punted to them after four plays. Dallas had a scare as returner Patrick Crayton muffed the punt out of bounds. Still, it was Cowboys ball.

Dallas drove from their own 32 yard line to the Kansas City 22 in nine plays. Their offensive linemen accumulated 15 penalty yards as right tackle Marc Colombo false started and left guard Kyle Kosier held and negated a Marion Barber run that would have put Dallas inside the 10. Even at this juncture, despite the initial, acceptable sloppiness, Dallas could get three points with Nick Folk’s reliable right foot. The 40-yard kick sailed into the gray October sky.

And missed the uprights — no good!

Special teams mistakes seem to be the most disheartening, for the team’s units designed for scoring and protecting margins aren’t even able to do their jobs. The Dallas defense came out inspired and forced a 1:13-three and out. Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt punted it away, another punt of 40 or more yards. Patrick Crayton once again muffed it, and this time the Chiefs recovered at the Dallas 23 yard line, the penultimate play of the first quarter.

When the second quarter commenced, Kansas City ran two unsuccessful plays. On fourth down, they struck first with a 47-yard Ryan Succop field goal. It was 3-0 Chiefs.

Not too bad — Dallas, who had been driving down the field comfortably, would be able to respond with either a field goal of their own or a touchdown of their own. Even if they couldn’t, head coach/defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ defense was bending, not breaking. Everything would be fine, at least that’s what Cowboys supporters thought until pulling right guard Leonard Davis rammed into Romo, who fumbled the ball away, and Kansas City’s offense scored a touchdown in five plays.

Arrowhead Stadium, a venue that had nothing to cheer for all season, came alive as the Chiefs were up 10-0.

“They really have great fans,” right tackle Marc Colombo lauded Arrowhead Stadium. “You get in there. They’re loud. The whole entire stadium is red. And I remember that game in particular because that was Miles Austin’s breakout game.”

At the moment, Miles Austin only had two catches for 16 yards, all that could be expected of one of 2006’s undrafted free agents. He was no #1 receiver. He was a career backup, Dallas’ Jason Avant. Only obsessed Cowboys fans knew who he was.

The Cowboys’ only points of the first half came on a 10-play drive, and Miles Austin caught two balls for 55 yards. Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr defended a pass to Austin in the end zone that would have given Dallas a 7-10 deficit. However, they had to settle for a 22-yard Nick Folk field goal. Kansas City would get the ball back to start the second half up 10-3.

In the third quarter, Dallas kept falling back into their hole and it got deeper. It was 6:24 in the third quarter, and Dallas only had one possession, which went three and out. There was no spark anywhere, not even from the fourth-year Monmouth product who sported Keyshawn Johnson’s old number.

Tashard Choice carried the torch, along with the football twice for 48 yards and a touchdown. He was a hero. He thought he could save the day and save Dallas from bye week embarrassment.

Colombo played with Choice for three seasons. He knew of Tashard Choice’s passion and intensity.

“He was a third runningback but you couldn’t tell him that,” Marc smiled. “He walked around like he was the starting runningback. And you know what? He backed up every word of it.”

Dallas was no longer backed into a corner at 10-13. To start the fourth quarter, Dallas regained possession. This was going to be another Tony Romo comeback, something they had done the past three games.

“We had those type of guys who knew how to fight, knew how to come back, knew how to make something out of nothing,” Marc Colombo recollects. “And that’s how we mounted that comeback.”

On the drive’s third play, Tony Romo threw an ill-advised pass deep left along the sideline for Miles Austin, but cornerback Brandon Carr had better position for the interception. In previous years, with Terrell Owens, this ball would go to the defense since Owens didn’t typically fight for catches.

Not today.

Miles Austin leapt with Carr and the two caught it in midair. By the time both professionals hit the moist grass in Arrowhead Stadium, Miles Austin had wrestled the football away from Carr. 34-yard gain. Move the chains.

Dallas would drive as far as the Chiefs 10 before Nick Folk tied it at 13 with a 28-yard field goal.

The Chiefs’ second to last drive of the fourth quarter took thirteen plays and 7:50 off the game clock. With 3:15 left in the game, Ryan Succop lined up for a 53-yard field goal. The rookie hadn’t missed all season. It was guaranteed he’d help the Chiefs go up 16-13 in the final three minutes.

Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff played college ball at Auburn in the SEC, a conference known for its athletic defensive linemen. Ratliff showed his athleticism in a leap over the Chiefs’ line to assuredly block Succop’s attempt. The ball ricocheted off Ratliff like a bullet off Superman’s chest. Dallas recovered. Cowboys ball!

From their own 36, Dallas’ Tashard Choice ran five yards. Perhaps the Cowboys would drive down the field and try their own field goal to edge the Chiefs 16-13. It sure looked that may not even happen after backup tight end Martellus Bennett couldn’t haul in a 2nd down pass. It was 3rd and 5 from Dallas’ 41 yard line. They needed a first down.

When a quarterback drops back to throw to Austin, they’re not throwing for yards. They’re throwing for miles. That’s how far it seemed Miles Austin ran as he scored the Cowboys’ go-ahead touchdown to put them up 20-13.

Unbelievable! 190 yards on just 9 catches. Who was this guy again?

“To be able to see him come onto the scene, he was a guy who was one of those guys from Monmouth no one knew anything about.”

The Chiefs forced overtime, and then Dallas had to deal with the anxiety of an overtime match. They had been in two since 2005 and lost both. It was fairly certain they would fall to 2-3 after they couldn’t do anything with the ball, which they got back after Kansas City’s first possession.

Thankfully, Dallas got the ball back at their own 21. It was the fourth drive in overtime. There was 10:02 before an unsatisfying tie would befall both teams. On the first play, Tashard Choice ran for 24 yards, and then for 5 more on 1st and ten from their own 45. Tashard Choice was the man again from the 50, gaining 4 yards on a dump off. At least, he was until left tackle Flozell Adams’ hold pushed the Cowboys back to their side of the field at their own 40.

It was 2nd and 15. Maybe if the Cowboys could just pick up this first down, they could burn time off the clock and go for the tie, or at least a field goal as time expired.

Romo dropped back and he hit Miles Austin again on a comeback route to the right. Again, the cornerback shed off of him like fat jeans on a skinny model. Austin raced to the end zone and threw the ball away well after crossing the goal line. In the words of FOX’s Joe Buck, “Miles Austin… he can fly on home!” Hordes of teammates smothered him with his carnivorous smile beaming from the bottom of the dog pile.

“To be able to see him come onto the scene, he was a guy who was one of those guys from Monmouth no one knew anything about,” teammate Colombo remembered. “I saw he way he worked, how much he wanted to get better, and he he went out there and had the game of his life.

“It was pretty special.”

Dallas would go into the bye 3-2. The media, disgruntled fans, and detractors still bagged on the Cowboys for being 3-2 and needing an extra session to beat a winless team. In the next week, Miles Austin had the second-best game of his career with 171 receiving yards. The Cowboys, with Austin catching passes, went on to an 11-5 record and crushed the Eagles in the wild card home in Cowboys Stadium, effectively ending the Donovan McNabb era in Philadelphia.

The 2009 season may have been a see-saw struggle, but Miles Austin helped the Cowboys wrest control and win the NFC East for the second time in three seasons. Two Pro Bowls later, Austin still remains on the Cowboys and is still helping the Cowboys go the distance and run for miles.