Key takeaways from first half of Chiefs vs. Cowboys Week 11

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Entering today, the Dallas Cowboys were the NFL’s No. 1 team in total offense. The Kansas City Chiefs’ resurgent defense held them to just 3 points at the half. K.C. currently leads the game 16-3 heading into the intermission. Dallas elected to receive the opening kickoff, giving Kansas City the ball to start the second half.

Here are our biggest takeaways from the first half of the Chiefs’ Week 11 game against the Cowboys:

Chiefs playing championship caliber defense

David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Chiefs’ defense opened the game with about the best possible start you could ask for. They followed up a three-and-out on the opening drive with a strip-sack by Frank Clark. They weren’t giving Dallas a blade of grass early on. Into the second quarter, they found a ton of success on first down and had held the Cowboys to just 2-of-6 on third down. L’Jarius Sneed has been all over the field making tackles and plays in coverage.

Now, Dallas started to find some success with a few chunk passing plays and some favorable penalty calls toward the end of the first quarter, but they were unable to really turn that into many points on offense. When the Cowboys finally caught a break with a turnover, the Chiefs’ defense went out and got the ball right back for Kansas City.

The big thing is that the defense hasn’t made anything easy for Dak Prescott, which earlier in the season isn’t something that could be said when facing opposing quarterbacks.

KC unafraid afraid to blitz Dak Prescott

AP Photo/Ed Zurga

A big storyline entering the game was how successful Dak Prescott had been against the blitz this season. Before this game, he lead the NFL in passer rating when blitzed. After this game, that probably won’t be the case.

Now, Steve Spagnuolo hasn’t sent all-out blitzes after Prescott on every play. He has been quite selective when it comes to calling extra pressure, basically reserving them for second-and-long or third-and-long. That has been an effective approach so far for Kansas City despite tendencies.

Bottom line: They’ve been getting after Prescott so far. The blitz has been successful. They’ve managed three sacks (2 from former Mississippi State teammate Chris Jones) and a number of pressures to start the game.

Offense keeping balanced, struggling with penalties

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs have taken a fairly balanced approach to their offensive attack so far. They’ve called 11 true running plays, with one good scramble by Patrick Mahomes. They’ve also called 18 passing attempts, completing 11 of those 18 passes. That type of balance wasn’t always common this season, with some of the games early in the year resulting in much fewer rushing attempts.

Four of five penalties for the Chiefs so far have been on offensive players. Three of those penalties have come against Trey Smith including a holding penalty and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the same snap totaling 25 yards for Kansas City. Those things are really going to kill drives and limit success and if it keeps up in the second half, it could allow the Cowboys to get back into this game.

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