The Kansas City Chiefs must be wondering what the heck happened today in Texas Stadium. All afternoon they looked to be firmly in control of the game, moving the ball with the ease of a grownup running through a group of kids. RB Larry Johnson was a man among Boys, scoring 3 TD's and rushing for 143 yards. Funny thing about kids, though, they tend to be tricky little devils, you've got to keep your eye on them. Those tricky kids from Texas, the Dallas Cowboys, pulled some sleight of hand, showed some dogged determination for four quarters, threw in a dash of luck on a final FG, and won a 31-28 victory.
QB Drew Bledsoe played the ringmaster in the Cowboys Circus, orchestrating a comeback in the final minutes and finishing the day 22 for 34, with 332 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT. Bledsoe, under fire for recent sub-par performances, was masterful on a day when he had to be, having to score 31 points to win isn't the Cowboys strong suit. Bill Parcells understood that fact early in the week when reports came out that he had changed up the Cowboy's practice routine. We should've known it then, the Cowboys were going to go deep into the playbook, looking for those plays in the back under the category of "Gadgets".
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The Chiefs raced out to a quick lead with Larry Johnson scoring on TD runs of 11 and 1 yards. The second one answered a Billy Cundiff FG to put Kansas City up 14-3 in the middle of the second quarter. Dallas had already pulled out one trick play, lining up CB Terence Newman at receiver, though as a decoy only. Parcells then decided to dial up another one, one that he has run often in his career. RB Marion Barber took the hand-off, stopped short of the line, and pitched the ball back to Bledsoe. While all that was going on WR Terry Glenn sold the run, split the coverage and was all alone behind the secondary. Bledsoe showed why he throws the deep ball as well as anyone, launching a laser shot that softly settled into the waiting hands of Glenn, who took it to the house and Dallas was back in the game, down only 14-10.
The Cowboys used a good, old-fashioned, play to set up their next score, the blitz. LB Scott Fujita rushed in with little resistance from the backside and blind-sided QB Trent Green to forced a fumble. DE Marcus Spears scooped up the ball and raced down the sideline, resembling a charging rhino, for 59-yards. Dallas cashed in the points when Drew Bledsoe again showed uncanny touch, sending a pass just over the defender and into TE Jason Witten's hands. The Cowboys went into the half with a 17-14 lead.
The Kansas City Chiefs dominated the third quarter, Dallas struggled to even get a first down. The Chiefs got another TD from Larry Johnson on a 21-yard dash on an 3rd and 1 play. At this point, everything about this game felt like a Chiefs victory. Dallas was struggling to contain the Kansas City offense, and Dallas had scored on a flea-flicker and after a long fumble return, that's not exactly dominating the Chiefs defense.
Still, the Cowboys were in the game, and they knew it. Bledsoe put together an 11-play, 84-yard drive that culminated in another bit of Parcells mischief. Dallas was sitting on the Chiefs 6-yard line with a 3rd and 1, and everyone knew Marion Barber would dive into the line. Instead, Terry Glenn took an end around, saved the play from disaster by using his speed to beat the defense, and bulled his way into the end-zone giving Dallas a 24-21 lead.
Kansas City wasn't done. With four minutes left in the 4th quarter on 1st down at the Dallas 47-yard line, the Chiefs struck. Terence Newman bumped WR Eddie Kennison and then turned him over to safety help when FB Tony Richardson flared out, forcing Newman to make a choice. Safety help never came as everybody collapsed on TE Tony Gonzalez, and Kennison was all alone for a TD. The Chiefs now had a 28-24 lead and appeared to be back in control of the game.
Drew Bledsoe had a different conclusion in mind, and it involved a late TD. Bledsoe gracefully moved the Cowboys down the field, only to stall at Kansas City's 6-yard line. On 4th and 4 Bledsoe threw to Jason Witten who couldn't handle the pass. Bledsoe knelt to the ground in despair, realizing he had come up short. Of course the story doesn't end there, a penalty for holding on the defense (replays showed it was a legitimate call), bailed out the Cowboys and gave them a 1st and goal at the 3-yard line. After a short run to the 1 by RB Julius Jones, Parcells got tricky one more time. As the Chiefs defense sold out for the run, Bledsoe faked a hand-off, stepped back and hit wide-open TE Dan Campbell for the game winning TD. Campbell had faked a block, took a few steps forward and found himself covered by the back judge. Dallas had their TD and their 31-28 victory, or so it seemed.
Apparently the Cowboys didn't think a winning TD with 22 seconds left in the game was exciting enough. Instead, they let the Chiefs get into position for a 42-yard FG to tie the game, but a bad snap caused a bad kick, and the game was finally over.
The Cowboys kept pace on a day when it had to win. Now 8-5 on the season, they are still tracking toward the playoffs. Dallas showed tenacity and guts in winning this game, something that will serve them well over the next three games.
But just in case, Bill Parcells might want to dust off the old Statue of Liberty play.
Star of the Game
Drew Bledsoe - 332 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, and drove Dallas to a game-winning TD late in the 4th quarter
Terry Glenn - 1 receiving TD, 1 rushing TD, 144 yards total
Jason Witten - 1 TD, 93 yards
Scott Fujita - 1 sack, 1 caused fumble, and a huge swing in points and momentum
Rob Petitti, Torrin Tucker - they weren't perfect, but they were effective