ARLINGTON, Texas (TNS) — After an hour and a half of misery, the Chiefs were finally having fun.
This was Sunday, early in the third quarter of the Chiefs’ road test against the Dallas Cowboys, and for the first time all game, the Chiefs had the lead, courtesy of a short touchdown catch by Travis Kelce.
Kelce proceeded to gather in the end zone with receivers Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson, and the trio — dead serious — feigned participating in a potato sack race, with Hill and Robinson falling, and Kelce the jubilant winner surrounded by his adoring teammates.
The Chiefs were celebrating like their lives depended on it, all in the name of fun. Good thing, too, because that score — which put the Chiefs ahead by four — would be last time any of them would have a chance to ham it up on this day.
Dallas responded in a big way, as they tightened the screws on defense and put the game in the hands of quarterback Dak Prescott — not running back Ezekiel Elliott — and allowed him to carry the Cowboys to a 28-17 victory in front of a crowd of 93,273 at AT&T Stadium.
While Elliott was solid but not spectacular –– he rushed 27 times for 93 yards and a touchdown against the league’s 28th-ranked run defense — it was Prescott, who finished 21 of 33 for 249 yards and two touchdowns (and also rushed for 27 yards and another score) who demonstrated mastery over the Chiefs right from the start.
Late in the first quarter, the second-year pro completed five straight passes on a seven-play, 57-yard scoring march that was capped by a short touchdown catch by slot receiver Cole Beasley, who beat cornerback Steven Nelson over the middle for the score that put Dallas ahead 7-0.
The Chiefs answered with a field goal early in the second quarter, and the score remained 7-3 until late in the half, when Prescott directed another scoring march, this time capping the seven-play, 82-yard drive with a 10-yard scramble of his own to put the Cowboys ahead 14-3.
With 21 seconds left in the half, it appeared that would be the score going into the break. But a combination of the Cowboys’ charitable spirit, in addition to Tyreek Hill’s freaky athletic ability, led to a jaw-dropping score that gave the Chiefs a short-term momentum boost.
First, Cowboys safety Byron Jones was whistled for unnecessary roughness on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Chiefs the ball at their own 37 instead of their own 22.
Then — after running back Charcandrick West made a smart move by ducking out of bounds with two seconds left on the tail end of a 12-yard catch — the Cowboys thought it would be wise to dial up a prevent defense that stacked their own goal line, but conceded the middle of the field.
Problem is, the Chiefs have, arguably, the fastest man in football in Hill, who proceeded to catch a short pass in the vacant area of the field, and duck, dodge and weave his way between several Cowboys for a jaw-dropping 56-yard score that cut the Chiefs’ halftime deficit to 14-10.
The Chiefs weren’t through riding the wave of that score yet, either.
After getting the ball first to start the third quarter, quarterback Alex Smith — who was forced to carry the offense as the Chiefs’ suddenly dormant running game sputtered to another subpar effort, this time for 60 yards in 18 carries — guided a nine-play, 62-yard scoring drive that was capped by his 2-yard touchdown throw to Kelce that put them ahead 17-14, their first lead of the game.
It would not last, however, not on a day in which the Cowboys racked up 375 total yards and went 7 for 12 on third downs.
The Cowboys responded on their very next drive, when Prescott and Elliott powered a scoring march capped by a 2-yard plunge by Elliott, who gave Dallas a 21-17 lead.
The Chiefs never led again. The offense was effectively bottled up, never advancing past the Cowboys’ 45 the rest of the way, and Prescott’s final touchdown pass of the day — a short 7-yard throw to Beasley — but the Chiefs in an 11-point hole they would not dig out of.