The all-red uniforms that the Kansas City Chiefs donned for the first time against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday represented quite the fashion statement.
The way the Chiefs performed made another kind of statement.
It said that these aren't the same bumbling bunch of sad-sacks who struggled to the worst record in franchise history last year. They aren't the same team that so embarrassed their fans that many of them began to organize rebellions as the season lurched to an end.
No, behind new coach Andy Reid and the near-flawless play of quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs are off to an unbeaten start. They held on for a 17-16 victory over the Cowboys to match their entire win total from last year just two weeks into the season.
"What happened last year, that laid the foundation," Chiefs safety Eric Berry said. "That brought us closer as a team, closer as a unit, and now we're just building forward."
The teams traded leads early, but Kansas City had pulled back ahead on Dwayne Bowe's touchdown catch and Ryan Succop's field goal. The Cowboys (1-1) then marched deep into Chiefs territory late in the fourth quarter, but had to settle for Dan Bailey's 53-yard field goal with 3:55 left.
Kansas City managed to pick up just enough first downs — one coming on a pass interference call on Morris Claiborne — to keep Tony Romo and the Cowboys from having one last shot.
"The game came down to one possession here and one possession there," Romo said. "When a team eats the clock as well as they did, the game is going to come down to a few plays."
Alex Smith threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Chiefs, who have allowed only one touchdown on defense and haven't committed a turnover through their first two games — not even against a Cowboys defense that forced the Giants into six of them last week.
"There are going to be highs and lows when you play a good football team," Reid said. "That may be what I'm proudest of, that we just didn't have those highs or lows."
Here are five more reasons why the Chiefs emerged victorious on Sunday:
1. CHIEFS PASS RUSH: The Chiefs, who piled up six sacks at Jacksonville, kept the heat on Romo most of the game. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe had a pair of sacks and Ron Parker another one on a cornerback blitz, putting a hurt on the quarterback's already bruised ribs. "It was my first big NFL play since I've been in the league," Parker said. "I'm still feeling the juice off it."
2. GROUND GAME GROUNDED: Dallas struggled to find running room for the second straight week. DeMarco Murray had just 25 yards on 12 carries, and the Cowboys finished with 37 yards rushing as a team. "We have to have more balance in our offense," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
3. SMITH'S LEGS: Smith ran for a game-high 57 yards, showing off the kind of elusiveness at quarterback that Kansas City hasn't had in the past. Perhaps his most daring move came when the Chiefs were facing third-and-15 on the opening series of the game, and Smith scrambled 17 yards before executing a Fosbury Flop over a defender for a first down. "Never done anything like that," he said. "I saw him kind of going low and then I was in the air."
4. BRYANT'S A BEAST: Dez Bryant was held to just 22 yards receiving by the Giants last week, but broke out against the Chiefs. He hauled in nine passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, and might've had another if he didn't drop a long pass after beating the coverage. "When my number's called, I'm going to do my job," Bryant said. "That's the way I look at it."
5. CHARLES IN CHARGE: Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles missed practice early in the week after hurting his quad against Jacksonville, but was still in the starting lineup. He caught a short TD pass from Smith in the first quarter and then salted things away with a couple of bruising runs after the Cowboys kicked a field goal with 3:55 left in the game. "I knew I was going to get the ball," he said. "I knew the moment was going to come and it came today and I was very happy I had to carry my team on my back."
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