Second-half miscues doom Cowboys

KANSAS CITY -- As the Dallas Cowboys look for reasons why they lost 17-16 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, they need only to look at their first four possessions of the second half.

Possession No. 1: With a chance to take control of the game on their first drive of the third quarter and facing first-and-goal from the Kansas City 5, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was sacked. On third-and-goal from the 4, left guard Ronald Leary committed a false start.

Terrance Williams was stopped for a 3-yard loss, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a 30-yard field goal and a 13-7 lead.

“It’s penalties and sacks,” Romo said. “Anytime you have minus plays down there it’s very difficult, especially on the road.”

Possession No. 2: The Chiefs took the lead on their first possession of the second half, but the Cowboys were moving again and had the ball at their 49 in three plays. The fourth play ended in a Lance Dunbar fumble at the Kansas City 47 after it was poked free by Akeem Jordan.

“It changed momentum,” said Dunbar, who was playing in his first game after missing the opener with a foot injury. “We can’t allow that.”

The Chiefs answered with a Ryan Succop field goal and a 17-13 lead with 14:06 to play.

Possession No. 3: Facing third-and-5 from the Dallas 38, Romo scrambled to his right to avoid pressure, but as he was about to throw a pass to Miles Austin he was hit by cornerback Ron Parker, who knocked the ball loose and recovered the fumble.

Romo initially protested his arm was moving forward.

“It’s bang-bang at the time,” Romo said. “Obviously, you always want it to be going forward. It was disappointing. I didn’t feel the defender there and we had Miles for a big gain if I could have gotten it out. I should have pulled the trigger a hair sooner.”

Kansas City did not score on that drive, but Dustin Colquitt was able to pin Dallas at its 16 for the start of the next drive.

Possession No. 4: Like they had in the first half when Dez Bryant caught five passes for 100 yards, the Cowboys victimized cornerback Brandon Flowers.

But then the unimaginable happened.

Bryant dropped Romo’s pass near midfield. Would he have scored? Perhaps, but at the very least the offense would be in favorable field position for the first time since the first drive of the second half. Two plays later, the Cowboys had to punt.

“I wouldn’t blame a loss, not this loss, on a single drop,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “I know it’s easy to do.”

Jones is right. It wasn’t just Bryant’s drop. It was a series of mistakes when the game was there to be taken that did the Cowboys in on Sunday.

“We did some things that gave us a chance to win this football game,” Romo said. “We put ourselves in position and we didn’t. Ultimately, that’s all that matters. No one cares about the other stuff. Four weeks from now, it’s still going to be a loss. And that’s tough.”