FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys on Monday night surely had their hands full with preparation for Thursday's short-week Thanksgiving Day visit from the Washington Commanders figuring most prominently in their "to-do list''; indeed, the coaching staff literally turned its attention to Week 12 as soon as the team boarded its plane home from Carolina after an easy victory there.
But somewhere in the background, in their offices and in their homes, the Cowboys were surely sneaking a look at "Monday Night Football,'' hopeful that ...
The Kansas City Chiefs wouldn't choke.
And that the Philadelphia Eagles wouldn't prevail.
Alas, Dallas' rival the Eagles survived a cold and wet thriller in K.C., Philly winning 21-17 in part because the Eagles, now an NFL-best 9-1, made clutch plays when needed ...
And in part because Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is bogged down by a cast of teammates who apparently are playing the receiver position without the benefit of opposable thumbs.
The Cowboys were of course hoping that this rematch of last season's Super Bowl would be a repeat in the sense that the Chiefs would win again, thus closing the NFC East gap between 7-3 Dallas and the hated Eagles. But among all the other things that went wrong on the night, including Philly shutting out the champs in the entire second half?
Chiefs pass-catchers, including even All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, who also had a fumble in the red zone, simply couldn't catch the football.
The Chiefs came into the game leading the league in dropped passes with 26 ... and so maybe not shockingly, they added five more drops - an NFL single-game high for the year - in this game. And three of those came on their final desperation drive. ... including a blown TD catch by Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had in his hands a perfectly thrown would-be 51-yard touchdown ... and he clumsily botched it.
“That didn’t just lose the game, there was a lot of stuff that happened,” Mahomes said. “It starts with me. I’ve got to make better throws at certain times.”
MVS DROPPED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/JYeV8PNd5w— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthew_CFB) November 21, 2023
For one night, that was a Cowboys concern. Now, no more.
Maybe Dallas - which rematches with Philly at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 10 - can take solace in how K.C. gashed the Eagles on the ground, with Isiah Pacheco's 89 yards part of the Chiefs' 168-yard total; can the speedy Pacheco's assertive style be mimicked by Tony Pollard within Dallas' "Texas Coast Offense''?
Or could there be a concept worth bothering regarding MVP-level receiver A.J. Brown, the Eagles stud who was held to just one catch for eight yards; can Dallas' playmaking defense - arguably the NFL's best in that category - take him away, too?
Or can the Cowboys take solace in the fact that Eagles QB Jalen Hurts threw for just 150 yards with a pick, and that while he was an effective-enough runner (especially behind the short-yardage "Tush Push''), he did look somewhat bothered by a balky knee; Can the "Dallas Doomsday'' defense make him one-dimensional?
Said Hurts: It's all about finding ways to win. We're winning games when we still have yet to play our best ball. ... We're far from a finished product.''
Does that mean the Eagles are getting better? Or does that mean the Eagles are vulnerable? Both Dallas and Philly have a gauntlet of games left, but ...
Unfortunately, even if its the latter, the 9-1 Eagles are essentially two games clear of the 7-3 Cowboys, who in the NFC are presently the No. 5 playoff seed. (The Lions are No. 2, the Niners No. 3, the Saints No. 4, the Seahawks No. 6 and the Vikings No. 7, so today's projection would have Dallas starting the playoffs at New Orleans.)
And when, exactly, did the Cowboys experience their chances being dropped? Right exactly at the same time Marquez Valdes-Scantling experienced the same.