KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Dallas Cowboys want you to believe things are different.
The Cowboys lost 17-16 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium and have only themselves to blame. This team is now 1-1 on the season, and you know what that means: Since 1990, only 41 percent of the teams who start 1-1 reach the postseason.
I'm not saying the Cowboys will miss the playoffs, but after watching them self-destruct against the Chiefs, I left feeling things won't change.
"I'm confident in our team," defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. "We're a totally different team. This is the best team I've ever been on, I've been here eight years. I'm not worried about last year or our woes or whatever -- 1-1, then you go downhill. That will not happen. We're going to fight to the end and we’re going to be contenders when it's all said and done."
The Cowboys are 1-1 because they don't know how to elevate their game to the next level.
It's like Dez Bryant is being dragged down from years of ineptitude. Bryant rarely drops passes. But there he was dropping a pass from Tony Romo at midfield in the fourth quarter. At the time of the drop, the Cowboys trailed 17-13.
"That was a real bad mistake," Bryant said. "That is not winning football. That's something I just don’t do. I can't do that. You can't win like that."
Just move on, right?
Third-and-10, Romo throws an incompletion. Time to punt.
On the next possession, as the Cowboys got to the Chiefs' 35, Romo seemed to lose his accuracy. He was almost picked off by safety Eric Berry, led Miles Austin a little too much for another incompletion and misfired on a pass to Jason Witten on third down. Dan Bailey's 53-yard field goal cut the deficit to 17-16, but as coach Jason Garrett likes to say, there was some meat left on the bone.
The Chiefs were trying to run out the clock on the next possession and running back Jamaal Charles, who was pretty much slowed the entire game, ran over the Cowboys' run defense. But the game was still within reach as the Chiefs faced a key third-and-10. Quarterback Alex Smith threw a sideline pass to Donnie Avery, but cornerback Morris Claiborne, who reached around Avery to knock the ball down, was flagged for pass interference, keeping the drive alive with 2:28 remaining.
The Cowboys would get the ball again with 16 seconds to play and ran some silly screen pass to DeMarco Murray that ended the afternoon.
Same old Cowboys.
Overall, you could point to the Cowboys' inability to score in the red zone, going 1-2, or their second half offensive possessions resulting in two field goals, two fumbles, a punt and that screen pass to end the game.
"I don't think we had great rhythm on offense," Garrett said. "We didn't really have the balance we wanted, we weren't able to run the ball like we like to."
The Cowboys have a talented team, a coach who has implemented a solid program that was lacking under the previous regime and an owner/general manager who wants to win and is willing to spend money to do so.
But the players can't make the necessary moves to make this franchise elite again.
"We just have to go back to work," Garrett said on being 1-1. "We don't really say anything to anyone who says anything about us. We'll evaluate what happened to us in all three phases of our football team and try to get better."
Yes, it's only one game. And who knows? Maybe the Cowboys will be 3-1 heading into October and we'll forget about what happened at Arrowhead.
Then again, there is no proof the Cowboys are any better than what they've been in the past two seasons, a .500 team.
"We need these, man," cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. "I'm a competitor. I want to win them all, man. We didn't make enough plays today. It's a long season. We got 14 more. We need to go and take the good things and build on them, and the things we didn't do good and fix them."