Commentary

Don't call it a trap game

Updated: October 10, 2009, 3:52 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- The last time the Dallas Cowboys visited the state of Missouri, the team went into a state of shock.

Last October, the Cowboys suffered a 30-24 overtime loss in Arizona that saw them lose their backup running back Felix Jones and Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar to eventual season-ending injuries.

Also, quarterback Tony Romo broke the pinkie on his throwing hand, which forced him to miss the following three games.

The next week, Dallas visited St. Louis and was run out of the Edward Jones Dome, losing 34-14.

Fast-forward to Sunday and the Cowboys (2-2) visit the winless Kansas City Chiefs (0-4), possibly on the verge of another meltdown.

The Cowboys will play without Jones again, who is sidelined with a knee injury. Starting wide receiver Roy E. Williams will also be out, with three bruised ribs. Starting strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh won't play with a broken thumb. Starting center Andre Gurode will play, despite a sprained knee.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones addressed coach Wade Phillips' job security, though briefly, on his weekly radio show.

All this comes after the Cowboys suffered a 17-10 loss at Denver the previous week, raising concerns about the direction of the offense and whether they are an elite team.

"Your backs are against the wall a little bit," tight end Jason Witten said. "Tough loss in Arizona. Anytime you look at us going on the road against a team that's not really that good, you never know how it's going to turn out. Wade has mentioned that the difference between an 0-4 team and a 4-0 team is very little. I think we all understand that and realize how important this game is."

The biggest problem for the Cowboys is their offense. Romo hasn't thrown a touchdown in the past two weeks and the offense scored only two touchdowns in its past 22 drives. In the first two weeks of the season, the Cowboys scored eight touchdowns.

Romo has gone 10 straight quarters without throwing a touchdown pass. Big plays in the running game also slowed down. After gaining seven runs of 10 or more yards versus Carolina, last week the Cowboys had only one.

The offensive maladies concern many at Valley Ranch, but the offensive players believe they can solve them.

"We watch film on Mondays and that's when you converse about the game," Williams said of himself and Romo. "But you just watch, and you learn from it. You can't take it back. You can't rewind it. You've got to take it in, write some mental notes and move on to the next week."

Here comes the next week in the Chiefs, who are 21-8 in home interconference games at Arrowhead Stadium since 1995.

This current group of Chiefs is struggling. They rank next-to-last in the NFL in total offense, 29th in pass offense, 28th in total defense and 29th in opponents points per game.

But the Rams were another team that struggled. At that stage, the Rams were 1-4 when they beat the Cowboys last season.

St. Louis hasn't won since.

Kansas City appears headed to the top half of next year's draft.

"This is a different team this year," Phillips said. "I don't think we're overconfident. I think we have a certain amount of confidence in ourselves. We know we have to play our best to win. Hopefully we can win on the road."

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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