Dallas 'D' fails to force turnover

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Maybe Monte Kiffin forgot to pack his turnover machine for the Dallas Cowboys' first road trip of the season.

The Dallas defense made it seem so simple in the season opener, forcing five turnovers (plus another on special teams) to key the Cowboys’ win against the New York Giants. All that preaching about the importance of turnovers and all the practicing how to create them paid off in a big way.

And then nothing the next week.

Dallas didn’t force a single turnover in Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. If you ask some defensive players, that’s the primary reason why the Cowboys headed home with a 1-1 record.

“It’s hard to do, now,” Kiffin said of forcing turnovers. “It’s hard to do.”

Oh, but the Cowboys had a couple of golden opportunities go right through their hands.

Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith executed Andy Reid’s somewhat conservative game plan well for most of the afternoon. However, the Cowboys dropped two potential interceptions in the first half.

A pass bounced off Will Allen's chest in Dallas territory on the first drive of the game. Kansas City scored a touchdown six plays later.

Linebacker Bruce Carter made a beautiful break on a pass in the flat on the Chiefs’ final offensive play of the first half. It would have been an easy touchdown return if the speedy Carter caught the ball, but it bounced off his hands and to the turf.

“We both would have probably had a chance to score on both of the plays,” said Allen, who had an interception in Week 1. “That could have been the game-changing play to put us ahead.

“As a defense, we pride ourselves on taking the ball away and scoring. We didn’t do that, so we didn’t do enough to win, no matter how many third downs we stopped, how many times we stopped them in their own territory. If we don’t produce points, it don’t matter.”

By most statistical measures, the Dallas defense played well. They held the Chiefs to 313 total yards and 17 points. They allowed Kansas City to convert only four of 13 third downs. The Cowboys had four sacks, including a couple by DeMarcus Ware.

But the Dallas defense failed to accomplish its primary goal, perhaps in part because its reputation preceded it after the success against the Giants.

“Certainly this week, even more emphasized,” Smith said of protecting the ball. “They poke, they punch, they pull and they’re good with the ball in the air, so we knew we had to make good decisions.”

The Chiefs did that most of the game, and the Cowboys failed to seize the couple of turnover-forcing opportunities they did have.