#NoLossNovember Becomes Reality After Chiefs' Win Over Cowboys: 10 Observations, Play of the Game, Stats to Know
Chris Jones just had the best game of his career
The Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) have now won four-straight - capping off #NoLossNovember in style as the defense shut down the NFL’s No. 1-ranked scoring offense in the Dallas Cowboys (31.6 ppg) and beating them at Arrowhead Sunday afternoon by a score of 19-9.
It was the lowest scoring output of the season for the Cowboys, who either turned it over or went three-and-out on 7 of their 12 drives against the Chiefs’ defense, which was highlighted by the most-dominant performance of his Chris Jones’ career.
Despite Jones’ 3.5 sacks and constant harassment of Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott in the backfield, the most-important play from the Chiefs’ defense came from someone else.
Here’s a breakdown of everything that stood out on Sunday - starting with the “Play of the Game” from Matt Lane (@ChiefInCarolina).
Play Of The Game
After falling to the Tennessee Titans 27-3 on October 27th, the Kansas City Chiefs have reeled off four consecutive wins in the month of November. Luck has been on their side during this month but that still hasn’t made the games any easier or less important. This victory over the Dallas Cowboys was no exception.
After jumping out to a quick 16-3 lead, the offense for both teams started to sputter. After five straight drives ending in under 30 yards, the Chiefs got the ball back with just under 2 minutes left in the first half. On second down, Patrick Mahomes rolled out as the pocket collapsed but was chased down from behind by Micah Parsons and fumbled the football. The Cowboys were now in perfect position - the Chiefs 42 yard line - to score before the half turning this game around but the Chiefs defense had other plans.
After picking up a short third down conversion, the Cowboys opted to save their timeouts, go no-huddle, and take a shot towards the end zone. Fortunately for the Chiefs, Charvarius Ward - who had just been beaten by a Slant route for the first down - was more than game. Ward was able to stick with the wide receiver and not only prevent a Touchdown but haul in an interception removing any possibility of points being scored by the Cowboys on this drive.
Charvarius Ward lined up in press vs the Cowboy’s top WR, CeeDee Lamb. Due to the Cowboys spread formation, the Chiefs were showing single high coverage meaning Ward wasn’t going to have any help over the top. No problem. He came off the line of scrimmage soft shoeing - mirror the wide receiver’s steps with his own - Lamb and playing with a soft press. As Lamb had to finally tip his route and begin stemming outside, Ward was able to flip his hips to get vertical.
On the turn, Ward is able to use his hands to leverage the WR to the sideline preventing him from being able to run by him. He does a good job feeling how physical he can be and how far he can push the WR outside before drawing a penalty. As soon as Ward saw the WR turn and look for the football, the play really began.
Ward has never been the best at playing the football in the air, especially over his shoulder. He’s a corner that has often preferred to just deny passing lanes and contend for pass break-ups but not this time. Not only did he look back for the football, but he located it, tracked it, and went and attacked it like a receiver would. The under-thrown pass allowed him to box out the receiver and come down with the interception.
After seeing how much the Chiefs offense continued to accomplish minimal to nothing in the second half, this turnover became huge. With the Cowboys not coming away with even three points on this drive, they were never able to pull within one score of the Chiefs. This allows an offense that had been playing up tight most of the year to maintain their composure and the defense to keep being aggressive. It was a first half play but for my money, Charvarius Ward’s interception was the play of the game.
Here are observations from a big win against the Dallas Cowboys.
Against the statistically best offense in the NFL, the Chiefense stepped up in a big way. They turned the ball over, forced punts, and held the Cowboys to field goals when they were given a short field to work with. The unit continues to step up in this team’s resurgence.
A Hot Offensive Start...
The offense was humming early — putting up 16 points in the first 16 minutes of the game. Big third down conversions, and finishing two scores in the red zone proved to be all the team would need to secure a win.
...But Offense Falters After
The early vibes on offense were special, but the remainder of the game was rough. The Chiefs were shut out for nearly two full quarters of football and struggled to put the game away when the defense gave them every chance too. After the early start, the offense scored only three points in the final 8 possessions.
Take a Bow Chris Jones
This might have been the best game of Chris Jones’ career — and that’s certainly saying something. The Cowboys’ offensive line had no answer for the defensive lineman. He proved why he’s one of the best interior pass rushers in the league. He finished with a career high 3.5 sacks.
Defensive Line Dominates
It wasn’t just Jones that put together a good performance. The entire front played an exceptional game against both the run and pass. Frank Clark registered another suck — and Jarran Reed got credited with a half sack. Melvin Ingram and Tershawn Wharton also stood out at times during the game.
Drops Were Killer
The offense continues to shoot themselves in the foot. Key drops led to stalled drives and even a turnover at the start of the second half when the ball tipped of Travis Kelce’s chest and into an Jayron Kearse’s hands for an interception.
Welcome back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The second year running back had a strong performance in his return — with 63 yards rushing on 12 carries and a touchdown. He also had two catches for 13 yards for good measure. CEH carried the workload in his return.
L’Jarius Sneed Had a Career Game
It wasn’t just Jones that stood out all game. L’Jarius Sneed might have put his best performance together in his young career. Sneed was active in all facets of the game — making exceptional plays on the edge in the screen/short passing game, getting his hands on the football, blitzing, and coming down with the game sealing interception.
Kicker Harrison Butker left some points on the board for the Chiefs — missing an extra point in the first quarter and a long field goal in the second half. The Chiefs appeared to be lining up for a long field goal but instead direct snapped to Butker who delivered a perfect punt inside the five yard line.
They did it! The Chiefs completed the entire month of November without a loss! After digging themselves in an early hole, the team pulled themselves all the way out of it and now lead the division are firmly back in the hunt for a one seed with the rest of the AFC waning.
37.5% - Red Zone TD percentage allowed by Chiefs defense in last four weeks
I’m old enough to remember when the Chiefs red zone defense was one of the team’s biggest issues. Steve Spagnuolo said the red zone defense was a major focus in the offseason, and it was difficult to tell at times with the execution in the early parts of the season. However, the defense has really rounded into form and the last four weeks have seen some terrific performances when the team is backed up in the red zone.
The 37.5% red zone touchdown percentage would best the NFL in the season long rankings, and has shown the Chiefs’ strides in that area that we expected to start the season. The Chiefs are allowing a smothering third down conversion rate of 14.3% in the red zone during that time as well, helping to build on yet another of the “problem stats” from the early part of the season.
The Chiefs defense is allowing just 2.88 yards per play in the red zone over the last four weeks, and allowed just 1.67 against a Cowboys offense that was tops in scoring and yards for the season. This Chiefs defense is no fluke, and their ability to tighten up and keep points off the board — for the fourth week in a row — has completely turned this team’s season around.
3 - Chiefs drives with a negative net yardage
This Chiefs offense is in a rut when they see teams that are willing to sit in two-high looks and rush four defenders. It’s become a problem as the season has gone along, and the Chiefs offense is scoring just 23.25 points per game during the four game winning streak. That includes a 41 point showing last week against the Raiders, pushing that per-game average down to 17.3 otherwise. The offense has struggled with the looks given to them, and it’s become a definite blueprint to help stop them.
Unfortunately, we’ve also seen the Chiefs offense shoot itself in the foot repeatedly, and this week’s game was no different. The Chiefs had three separate drives — not including end of half/kneeldowns — where they had a negative net yardage and three plays or less. One was plagued by penalties, another was a Patrick Mahomes fumble, and yet another was just poor execution all around.
This is not the offense that we expected from Mahomes and Andy Reid, and they’re certainly not pleased with the full outcome. Scoring 19 points on 11 true drives is well below the standards that they have set even early on in this season. It’s a testament to the defense that they kept standing up to the challenge and getting the ball back to the offense, but if this team wants to make a deep playoff run, they’re going to need to figure out the blueprint that’s on the table to stop them right now.