The Dallas Cowboys haven’t been 2-0 since 2008, and only twice in the past 14 years have they won their first two games. It is a big reason they are 105-105 since the start of the 2000 season.
It also is a reason they went 8-8 each of the past two seasons.
The Cowboys gave away the season opener against the Jets in 2011, and they fumbled, bumbled and stumbled their way into a loss at Seattle last season.
They vowed this season would be different.
It almost was, and it still could be.
The Cowboys lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 17-16 on Sunday, a close-but-no-cigar game that leaves them 1-1. Because the rest of the NFC East also lost, the Cowboys still are tied for the division lead with the Philadelphia Eagles, with the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants both winless.
The Cowboys have a chance to make hay the next two weeks with games against the St. Louis Rams (1-1) and at the San Diego Chargers (1-1), and as they keep reminding everyone, it is a long season.
“You want to win every game you play,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “We understand the challenges each week in the NFL. Kansas City is a good football team, and they showed that in Week 1. It’s a hard place to play. We understood the challenges going up there.
“It’s hard to win games in the NFL. You have to earn them, and we didn’t do what we needed to do, so we’re not going to take some global view of this thing, and say, ‘We’re this; we’re that.’ We’re going to focus on what we’re going to do to get better based on what happened in the game [Sunday]. We’re going to be committed to that as coaches and as players.”
Valley Ranch was quiet Monday as players watched film. They left feeling they had let one slip away.
All off-season, Garrett made “Finish, finish, finish” a refrain. The Cowboys didn’t do that Sunday.
“Games like that — losing by one point — we’ve got to finish,” linebacker Bruce Carter said. “We have to in order to be the team we have the potential to be. So definitely we’ve got to go out there and finish those games. The defense has got to get turnovers, put the ball back in the offense’s hands and give them a lot of opportunities to score.”
The Cowboys had six takeaways in the season opener against the Giants, finishing plus-five in turnover margin. They were minus-2 against the Chiefs, getting no turnovers while losing two fumbles. Carter and safety Will Allen both had interception opportunities.
The defense had a chance to get the Chiefs off the field at the end and give the offense a chance to win it. But Kansas City held the ball for all but 16 seconds of the final 3:50 as Jamaal Charles ran eight times for 47 yards and cornerback Morris Claiborne had a pass interference penalty on a third down that gave the Chiefs a first down.
“We had a chance to win it several times, and we didn’t do it,” Allen said.
The offense offered no running game with 37 yards on 16 carries. Dez Bryant dropped a second-half pass that would have put the Cowboys at midfield, and he also had an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a 22-yard gain in the first half. And Dallas blew a red-zone chance in the third quarter, settling for a field goal after having first-and-goal from the 5.
“Very disappointed,” defensive end Anthony Spencer said. “We had multiple opportunities to win on offense and defense. We just didn’t come up with the win.”