KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The excitement for Sunday began early, as cars lined up outside the Arrowhead Stadium gates in predawn hours.
And the best word to describe the pregame parking lot festivities is festive.
Tara Ortiz of Leavenworth, Kan., suffered through the 2012 season. However, she was quick to point out the difference between last season and this year.
“We got Andy Reid, we fired Scott Pioli and things started moving in the right direction,” she said. “I remember telling my husband things were going to be different. This is going to be a different team. Everybody is out here in red, we’re ready and it’s exciting. I’m so excited, so happy to be a Chiefs fan.”
Given a thrilling 17-16 win against the Dallas Cowboys, the Chiefs didn’t disappoint the 76,952 fans in attendance, all of whom were treated to an entertaining game.
Observations from the press box
Pregame notes: The Chiefs listed quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receiver Chad Hall, cornerback Dunta Robinson, linebacker Nico Johnson, center Eric Kush, linebacker/defensive end Josh Martin and defensive tackle Jaye Howare as inactive.
The Chiefs took the opening kickoff and promptly used a 13-play, 77-yard drive to get on the board first following an Alex Smith 2-yard touchdown pass to running back Jamaal Charles. Smith showed he can be dangerous out of the pocket, gaining 40 yards on five rushes on the drive.
The Cowboys answered on the subsequent drive with a field goal. Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe came up big with a sack as the Chiefs defense held. Still, the drive previewed what would be a long day for Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers against Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who burned Flowers on a 53-yard play.
On the Cowboys’ second possession of the quarter, quarterback Tony Romo found Bryant for a diving 38-yard catch against Flowers. Romo then found Bryant for a 2-yard touchdown against … that’s right, Flowers.
The second session proved sluggish for both offenses.
The Chiefs ended the first half with 168 total net yards, with 77 of that total coming on the opening scoring drive.
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles was virtually invisible in the ground game, gaining eight yards on four carries entering halftime. Charles chipped in with four catches for 28 yards.
The Cowboys opened the second half with an efficient 13-play, 68-yard scoring drive eating up 8:06 off the clock. But the team settled for Dan Bailey 30-yard field goal after the Chiefs defense, led by another Poe sack, held in the red zone.
Romo went to the Bryant-Flowers matchup on two straight plays on the drive, resulting in two catches for 15 yards. The Cowboys at this point of the game held a 13-7 lead.
The Chiefs offense woke up on the first drive of the second half, utilizing a 10-play 80-yard touchdown drive capped off with a Smith 12-yard strike to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to put the Chiefs ahead, 14-13.
The quarter flew by and ended with a big fumble recovery by Chiefs safety Eric Berry.
The Chiefs couldn’t capitalize on Berry’s fumble recovery, but added to the lead on a Ryan Succop 40-yard field goal to go up 17-13.
Dallas pulled within a point on a Bailey 53-yard field goal, and then the nervousness began.
The Chiefs tasked rookie running back Knile Davis to handle the subsequent kickoff despite concerns over his ability to hold on to the ball. David muffed the kick, but recovered it with 3:48 remaining in the game.
So who needs to touch the ball at this point?
You’d like to see the Chiefs milk the clock here. Problem is Jamaal Charles has 8 yards on 8 carries. Use him now to run some time off.
— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) September 15, 2013
Charles sealed the deal with eight rushes for 47 yards, finishing the game with 55 yards rushing and 48 yards receiving and a touchdown on eight catches.
The Chiefs were also helped out by a pass interference call against Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne to keep the drive alive and end any hopes of a Dallas comeback.
• Quarterback Alex Smith finished the contest completing 21-of-36 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He added 57 yards rushing on eight attempts.
• Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe had four catches on 56 yards and a touchdown. Smith targeted Bowe eight times on the game.
• Defensive back Brandon Flowers had 10 tackles, mostly on Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had nine catches for 141 yards.
• Defensive tackle Dontari Poe had two sacks.
• Punter Dustin Colquitt boomed a 65-yard punt. He had seven punts on the game, including five that landed inside the 20-yard line.
And the stat of the young season so far, courtesy of FOX Sports’ Sean Keeler.
#Chiefs‘ plus/minus on turnovers after 2 games: +4. Rec: 2-0. Last year after 2 games: -6. Rec: 0-2. Ain’t rocket science. #NFL
— SeanKeeler (@SeanKeeler) September 15, 2013
Chiefs coach And Reid on the fans:
“They came out and it was a Sea of Red out there. It was crazy and our players felt that. They wanted to dress in red for the fans and so they me about it and I talked to (John) Dorsey about it. He gave us the OK on it, to do that, and the players feel that. Believe it or not, they feel it, especially when the ground is shaking. When our fans are going, you can feel that field and it just kind of rumbles. It’s crazy, but an awesome feeling.”
Notes: Reid said tight end Anthony Fasano suffered an ankle injury and is scheduled for an X-ray on Monday … Reid said left tackle Branden Albert hurt his left shoulder … Albert suffered the injury early in the game, but was able to finish … Reid said defensive end Mike DeVito had a stinger … “He came out for a little bit and he’s a bit sore,” Reid said of DeVito during the postgame presser.