SAN DIEGO— The Cowboys were decimated through the air by Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, who piled up 401 passing yards to beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-21 Sunday. The Cowboys blew an 11-point second-quarter lead, allowing San Diego to score 20 consecutive points.
This game started off slowly. On the first play of the game, Dallas running back DeMarco Murray gained 10 yards on the ground for a first down. It was the Cowboys' only one in their first three drives, all of which resulted in punts.
The Chargers took the early lead when quarterback Phillip Rivers hit running back Danny Woodhead in stride for a 26-yard touchdown. Linebacker Bruce Carter was in coverage, but could do little to defense a near-perfect pitch and catch.
The one-touchdown lead lasted through the entire first 15 minutes of the game.
The Cowboys' offense woke up in the second quarter and linebacker Sean Lee came up with a big play as the Cowboys took a 21-13 lead into the half.
Tony Romo went to the air to get the Dallas offense going. Midway through the second quarter, Romo and company made first downs on six consecutive plays — five of them Romo passes.
Rookie Terrance Williams, filling in for the injured Miles Austin, made three first down catches on the drive.
Romo capped the first touchdown drive of the day with a jump-ball throw to Dez Bryant. He leaped to make the catch, snatching it away from his defender, tying the game at seven.
On the Cowboys' next drive, Romo used play action to buy time and find Bryant open in the middle of the field on a deep-in route. Bryant grabbed it and raced to the end zone to complete the 34-yard catch-and-run hookup, and the Cowboys took a 14-10 lead.
Just before the half, Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher hit Philip Rivers as he threw a pass and it popped up in the air. Linebacker Sean Lee picked it off near mid-field and raced 52 yards for a 21-10 Dallas lead.
But the Chargers drove and scored a 42-yard field goal as the second quarter expired, cutting the deficit to eight at 21-13.
In a fast-moving third quarter, the Chargers sffrf another touchdown to inch closer to the Cowboys. Chargers running back Danny Woodhead scored his second receiving touchdown of the game when he beat linebacker Bruce Carter again. Woodhead released to the flat, then turned it up down the sideline and Carter couldn't keep pace, leaving him wide open.
Philip Rivers put the throw on the money for a 13-yard touchdown, cutting the Dallas lead to 21-20.
The Cowboys' offense had just one possession in the quarter. They made a couple of first downs, but on a third-and-11 from mid-field, Dez Bryant couldn't make a tough catch on the sideline and the offense was forced to punt it away.
San Diego began the fourth quarter with a field goal, which gave them their first lead since the opening stanza, 23-21.
The Cowboys responded with a drive that initially seemed very promising, picking up three first downs in quick order. But a Ron Leary holding call erased a first down pass to Cole Beasley, and when Jason Witten dropped an 8-yard pass as Chargers Safety Eric Weddle swatted at him, the drive ended with another punt.
The Chargers started at their own 20 after a touchback and called running back Ryan Matthews' number five times in a row -- once on a pass, four on runs. They then sent out Antonio Gates over the middle of the field. Rivers found him, and Sean Lee fell down trying to make the tackle. Gates capitalized, taking the ball 56 yards for a San Diego score, which made it 30-21 with just under seven minutes to go.
Dallas slowly worked its way down the field on its next possession, running 12 plays and taking more than four minutes off the clock. With the ball on the San Diego 7-yard line, Tony Romo found rookie receiver Terence Williams, who had 71 yards on the day. Williams made a nice catch, but stretched for the end zone without being in distance to reach it. The ball was held loosely, and it was knocked out of his grasp and into the end zone, where Richard Marshall grabbed it for the Chargers and knelt down for a touchback.
That play essentially ended the Cowboys' day.
Rivers finished with 35 completions in 42 attempts with 401 yards, three touchdowns and a pick.
Romo went 27 for 37 for 244 yards and two touchdowns -- only 9 yards per completion. He knows this one could have turned out very differently.
“It’s one of those games that come down to a couple of plays.... without as many possessions as you’d normally get in the football game you have to make them all count.”
Jason Witten doesn't seem to have changed his view on the squad based on this game.
“We talked last week about winning one game and losing the next, and that’s disappointing. There’s still a lot of football left to play. We have a group that believes in themselves. We’ll get better and we’ll bounce back.”"
DeMarco Murray ran 14 times for 70 yards, but the run was abandoned in the second half, as Murray scampered only four times.
The 2-2 Cowboys will host Denver next week in Arlington. Peyton Manning's Broncos beat Philadelphia today, scoring a franchise-record 52 points in a 32-point beatdown of the Eagles. Manning threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns.