But in Kansas City’s 19-9 victory, it was the Chiefs’ defense that stole the show.
Following a tremendous all-around performance from kickoff to the final whistle — holding the Cowboys just three field goals — every defensive player should be on the winner’s list. On offense, the Chiefs were pretty efficient — doing enough to win — but they still left some things on the table. It added up to a second straight complete-team performance — and a fourth consecutive victory.
Here are a few who stood out as the Chiefs improved their record to 7-4.
(Author’s note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.)
L’Jarius Sneed: It might have been the best game of his young career — and that’s saying something. Sneed filled up the box score with a tackle for loss, three passes defended and an interception. But he may also be among the best-tackling defensive backs in the league. The way he was shedding blocks, sniffing out screens and closing on ball carriers was one of the key reasons the Cowboys never found the end zone.
Chris Jones: The CEO of #SackNation absolutely took over the game, logging 3.5 sacks and killing drives all afternoon. On the final drive, he was able to get his hands on the pass that Sneed intercepted. Much of the damage was done versus the Dallas guards — including Zack Martin, who is considered one of the league’s best. This Jones guy might have a future at defensive tackle after all.
Byron Pringle: We talked about him in this week’s Market Movers. Each week, he does many things to help his team. Against Dallas, Pringle was only targeted twice, but one was a smooth 37-yard reception. He also had big returns in the kicking game, averaging 34.7 yards over three kickoffs.
Charvarius Ward: They tried to pick on him early in the game, but Ward kept battling. By the final gun, No. 35 logged three passes defended and a really nice interception in the end zone. He also led the team in tackles — which isn’t always a good sign — but either way, it was clear that Ward wasn’t going to lie down. When Ward is playing his physical brand of football — like he was on Sunday — this defense is better.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: We weren’t sure how much we’d see the second-year running back in his return from injured reserve. But he was quite effective in his 14 touches, totaling 76 yards and a touchdown. His downhill burst and elusiveness were evident from the first scripted play. There’s no question whether he or Darrel Williams should be the lead back going forward. There’s clearly room for both guys; they have different styles and strengths. But Sunday was certainly a successful comeback for the team’s starter.
Tyrann Mathieu: This list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the heart-and-soul of the defense. Mathieu battled through a swollen knee to once again lead this defense. Any ill effects from that injury were not apparent as Mathieu was flying all over the field, covering tight ends and keeping the Cowboys' offense guessing. A gritty performance from the Honey Badger should not go overlooked just because others made the big plays.
Harrison Butker: It seemed like a difficult night to kick. There was some wind whipping around Arrowhead that sometimes knocked balls off the tees before kickoffs — and it made things very interesting on field goals and extra points. Butker’s results were up-and-down, with a missed extra point and field goal. But he did execute a perfect pooch punt to pin the Cowboys deep on their final drive, hit a 53-yard field goal and a 48-yard extra point (after penalties). Hopefully, his first missed extra point was a fluke that won’t come back to haunt the Chiefs down the stretch.
Trey Smith: The kid has been an absolute monster this season — and that continued against the Cowboys. But even if they weren’t the best calls, his two holding flags hurt. And then his reactionary response to the second one compounded a bad play and killed a drive. The holding calls are going to happen — and refs are going to get things wrong — but in the future, the rookie will learn to avoid unsportsmanlike conduct.
Josh Gordon: The expectations we have applied to Gordon may be unfair. He’s been away from the game for a while — and has come into a complex offense mid-season. But the one thing we can (and should) expect is that when the football comes his way, he catches it. Another frustrating drop on Sunday may be a sign that he’s still not quite ready to contribute. But he’ll have the bye week to work on getting more comfortable. Perhaps — before the season ends — he’ll still be a factor.