Takeaways from Cowboys at Chiefs

13 days. That’s how many days the Kingdom has to watch sports shows, listen to sports radio and enjoy. With their victory on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs improved to 7-4, remain in 1st place in the division and will enjoy a holiday weekend at home for their bye week.

While the Chiefs rest up for the stretch run, the Kingdom gets to enjoy the team’s win streak, have some turkey and listen to the praise for this team’s big turnaround.

Speaking of turnarounds, how about that Chiefs defense? Once the Achilles heel of this team, the defense stepped up, again, and was the reason this team won against Dallas. Holding Dallas to only three field goals, incredibly impressive, especially considering some of their efforts earlier in the season. Not only did they hold one of the best offenses in the league to nine points, but in addition to holding Dallas out of the end zone, they also held them to under 300 yards of offense and forced three turnovers.

What happened? Ever since Melvin Ingram walked into the locker this defense has been reborn. The defense has not surrendered more than 20 points for the fourth consecutive game and has become the reason the Chiefs are winning games. This defense is only giving up 11.8 points per game during this latest four-game win streak. After Steve Spagnuolo took the heat for the early season failures, we have to give credit where credit is due. Spags has been masterful in recent weeks and a big part of the resurrection is Chris Jones moving back to the inside.

Speaking of Chris Jones, what happened with him? Tallying 3.5 sacks on Sunday, Jones surpassed his season total in one afternoon. Jones was unstoppable and delivered, easily, his most dominant performance of the season. In addition to doubling his sack total, Jones added a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, two tackles for a loss, and seven additional pressures on Dak Prescott. But his piece de resistance was the tipped pass that ended the game when it was intercepted with the one-minute left on the clock. A monster performance from Jones who, up until Sunday, was having a less-than-stellar season statically.

Speaking of interceptions with one minute left on the clock, L’Jarius Sneed is quietly continuing his rise as a shutdown cornerback. Sneed delivered another strong performance against the vaunted Cowboys offense. Sneed also registered a tackle for loss and three passes defended. Sneed figures strongly into the future of the Chiefs secondary, Veach should already be considering his contract extension.

Speaking of three passes defended and an interception, Charvarius Ward.  Not to be outplayed, at least this week, by his cross-field counterpart Ward earned his game check this week. In addition to those pass break-ups, Ward had a spectacular interception in the end zone at the end of the first half. His ability to turn around, track the ball and hold onto that pick was an all-time highlight for Ward. That pick kept points off the board and allowed the Chiefs to take the momentum into the locker room at the half. Big-time play.

Bonus: The Honey Badger is really good.

The offense, well, the offense did enough but struggled when it came time to put the game away. After a truly dominant performance against Las Vegas, the Chiefs started fast with what appeared, at least initially, a commitment to running the ball. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 12 for 63 and a touchdown, coming off a sprained MCL looked impressive on the first drive. The Chiefs were so committed to the run early that Travis Kelce had a 4-yard rushing touchdown on the game’s first drive. Then, the Chiefs became the Chiefs again. Inexplicably, for the better part of the game went back to their typical throw-first mentality.

After that fast start, the offense sputtered, only adding a field goal in the 2nd half. The Cowboys hung around the entire game as the Dallas defense kept Mahomes and company in check. Dropped passes and penalties played a big role in stopping several drives, but reverting to their old ways was the biggest reason the offense couldn’t put Dallas away earlier in the 2nd half.

Mahomes finished 23/37 for 260 yards, an interception, and zero touchdowns. Again, we saw PM 15 struggle with decision-making. Always looking for the deep ball, Mahomes gave up some underneath throws and in a very confusing moment, denied a pitch for what would have extended a drive late in the game. For one week, against the Raiders, the Kingdom experienced both sides of the ball in synch. Outside of that game one side or the other of this team have struggled.

The offense needed more balance against the Cowboys and will certainly need that run game firing on all cylinders late in the season. Can the Chiefs stay committed to running the ball? On Sunday afternoon, the answer was no. Hopefully, after the bye, we see the Chiefs return with a more balanced attack. Still, the offense provided just enough for this victory and the Kingdom should rejoice at this team’s turnaround.

Bonus: Josh Gordon has not been good.

Double Bonus: Was that really a Chargers home game? The Steelers’ defense didn’t do the Chiefs any favors, but the shots of Herbert struggling to hear when on offense was quite a sight. Hopefully, the Chiefs have the same experience when they visit L.A. for what will be a critical game in December.  

The Chiefs have this way of making games more interesting than they need to be at times, Sunday was no different. When the Chiefs stayed committed to the run, they found success, and ultimately late in the game, the run game proved valuable helping run the clock in the 4th quarter.

After the bye week, the Chiefs will enter a critical stretch run with three consecutive division games, after which the division could be decided. Will the Chiefs be able to get multiple games with the offense and defense playing complementary football? Here’s hoping. Until then enjoy the next 13 days of nothing but praise for the Chiefs who catapulted from last place to first place in the AFC West in four weeks.

13 days.