KANSAS CITY -- The words were spoken by several different defensive players in the Kansas City Chiefs locker room after their 17-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Arrowhead Stadium. They talked about becoming an "elite defense."
"That's what we want to be, an elite defense, that goes out every week and puts up a winning performance and steps forward when necessary," said strong safety Eric Berry.
Whatever the definition of elite may be, it was the second consecutive Sunday when the Kansas City defense keyed a victory. Last week they did not allow a touchdown in beating Jacksonville 28-2. Sunday was a much different opponent, but the Chiefs allowed the Cowboys just one touchdown as they pushed their record to 2-0.
"We just didn't have a good rhythm on offense," said Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. "We couldn't run the ball. They are an aggressive defense and they can make you play sloppy with their style. You have to fight through that and we didn't do enough of that."
The Cowboys' only touchdown was a 2-yard pass from quarterback Tony Romo to wide receiver Dez Bryant. The rest of the Cowboys points came on three field goals by Dan Bailey. Overall, Dallas had 318 offensive yards, but Romo was sacked three times and turned the ball over on a fumble on one of those plays.
"That's a very good defense, and you throw in the crowd and the noise they made and it's a tough assignment," Romo said. "But we had opportunities. We just didn't make the plays."
Quarterback Alex Smith threw touchdown passes to running back Jamaal Charles for 2 yards and 12 yards to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. The key for Kansas City was no turnovers, although they did allow four sacks, and Smith ended up being the team's leading rusher with 57 yards on eight carries.
What the Cowboys said
"This game came down to a possession here and a possession there. We only had two possessions in the third quarter. When a team can eat the clock as well as they can, the game is going to come down to a few plays. Can you make them or not? Today we didn't make them." -- Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.
What the Chiefs said
"When you are trying to build something you need to win games like this. These are the games you look at when you get into November and December; you need these types of wins. It's not just the caliber of the opponent, but the style. It wasn't pretty. It went back and forth, but the team that finds a way to bear down in the fourth quarter to make the plays can win." -- Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith.
What we learned about the Cowboys
1. The offense continues to have problems running the football as they produced just 37 yards on 16. Starting running back DeMarco Murray had 12 carries for 25 yards, a poor 2.1-yard per carry average. The team's longest run of the game was 12 yards by running back Lance Dunbar.
2. The key to the Cowboys' opening game victory over the New York Giants was their ability to force six turnovers. On the second Sunday of the season they were no able to get the Chiefs to turn the ball over. Kansas City did not have a fumble.
What we learned about the Chiefs
1. The Chiefs are 2-0 for the first time since the 2010 season and only the fourth time in the last 17 seasons. Last year the Chiefs were able to win only two games in 16 outings. This year they got two victories before the end of the season's first month.
2. Quarterback Alex Smith led the Chiefs in rushing against Dallas, running eight times for 57 yards, including a 17-yard run on a third-down play that set up Kansas City's first touchdown. Smith said it was the first time he could remember in many years where he led his team in rushing. It's an element of the offense that he has brought to the Chiefs attack. They ran several read-option plays where Smith kept the ball and there was even a running play for the quarterback out of the pistol formation.