The Dallas Cowboys lose 30-21 to the San Diego Chargers in week 4 of the 2013-2014 NFL season.
Dallas head coach Jason Garrett talks to the media following the Cowboys loss to the Chargers.
Dallas QB Tony Romo talks to the media following the Cowboys loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Nick Eatman, Rowan Kavner, and Bryan Broaddus following the Dallas Cowboys loss to the San Diego Chargers as they bring you First Take presented by Nationwide Insurance.
Heading into their matchup at San Diego, the Dallas Cowboys knew that if they were going to be considered a legitimate contender in 2013-2014, this was the type of game they needed to win.
They didn’t, losing 30-21 to the Chargers in front of what seemed like a partisan Cowboys crowd, Dallas’ record for the season falling to 2-2, the third straight year and fourth time in five years that they’ve been at .500 a quarter into the schedule.
And the game seemed to be in their grasp, at least late in the second quarter when they went up by 11 points, 21-10. But San Diego then reeled off 20 unanswered points, simply dominating the Dallas defense in the second half, and in particular the third quarter, to send the Cowboys home in defeat.
Making matters worse, an already thin defensive line for the Cowboys took another blow. Earlier in the week, Anthony Spencer was placed on injured reserve, lost for the season. Then against the Chargers, his replacement, George Selvie, left late in the game due to injury, while DeMarcus Ware, who battled a plethora of injuries last season, was in and out of the lineup for much of they day due to a stinger in his neck and shoulder.
Still, other than a stretch in the second quarter, the Cowboys really had no answer for Philip Rivers, as the Chargers quarterback threw for 401 yards, completing 35-of-42 passes with three touchdowns and one interception. Dallas had trouble containing Antonio Gates, the tight end hauling in 10 passes for 136 yards and a score while running back Danny Woodhead caught two touchdowns as well, contributing 86 yards from scrimmage.
Continuing with his dink-and-dunk strategy, Tony Romo connected on 27-of-37 for 244 passing yards and two touchdowns. Dez Bryant led the team with 81 receiving yards on six grabs, including the two scores, with rookie Terrance Williams, who was starting in place of the injured Miles Austin, setting a career high with seven catches for 71 yards. On the ground, DeMarco Murray rushed 14 times for 70 yards, averaging a respectable 5.0 yards per carry.
Overall, San Diego finished with 506 yards of total offense to the Cowboys’ 317 and held the time of possession advantage, 34:03 to 25:57.
The Cowboys troubles began right from the start, as they punted on their first three possessions, only picking up one first down in the process. Meanwhile, the Chargers reached the end zone on their second drive, Rivers throwing an over-the-shoulder pass to Woodhead from 26 yards out to put San Diego up 7-0.
But as the clock turned over to the second quarter, the Cowboys’ fortunes seemed to change, as Dallas outscored the Chargers 21-6 to go into the half with an eight-point lead. Leading the way was the team’s defense, as well as the ever-potent combination of Romo to Bryant.
On the team’s first touchdown, which came on a nine-play, 85-yard drive, Romo basically threw a 5-yard jump ball to Bryant on the right side of the end zone, the team’s all-everything receiver simply out-muscling the defender to come down with the prize and tie the game, 7-7.
Unfortunately, that good will was almost spoiled when head coach Jason Garrett made the questionable decision to try for a 56-yard field goal on the Chargers 38-yard line instead of either punting it away or going for it on fourth-and-6. The kick had the distance, but sailed wide, and with the ensuing good field position, the Chargers quickly worked into Dallas territory, eventually attempting their own field goal, this one good from 36 yards out to move back in front, 10-7.
The Cowboys took back control, however, and on their next possession, Romo and Bryant connected again, this time the quarterback hitting his target over the middle. Bryant showed off his speed by splitting the defense and racing to paydirt for a 34-yard score, the Cowboys jumping out to a 14-10 advantage.
And then the defense did its part. On second-and-3 from near midfield, Rivers dropped back to pass and was hit by charging defensive tackle Jason Hatcher just as he was making his throw. The fluttering ball was corralled by Sean Lee, the linebacker then racing down the right sideline with a whole convoy of teammates in front of him, going 52 yards for the score.
The Cowboys couldn’t quite make it into the half at 21-10, as the Chargers had plenty of time to work into field goal range, reaching the Dallas 24-yard line where kicker Nick Novak split the uprights on a 42-yarder to narrow the gap to 21-13 at the break.
This game is all about adjustments, though, and apparently during the half, the Chargers seemingly made theirs while perhaps Dallas didn’t, as San Diego came out and simply dominated the third quarter.
The Chargers took the opening possession of the second half and swiftly marched 80 yards on 10 plays, eating up 5:28 of the clock. Rivers completed passes of 9, 8, 28 and 14 yards before lofting a 7-yarder to Woodhead who was wide open on the left side of the end zone, 21-20. The score marked the first two-touchdown game in Woodhead’s career.
That was then quickly followed by another lengthy drive by the home team. The Chargers took over at their own 11-yard line with 6:09 remaining in the third quarter, and finally saw Novak chip in a 23-yard field goal at the 14:50 mark of the fourth to take the lead, 23-21.
Soon enough, that advantage was pushed to 30-21, as the Dallas offense could get little going. Forced to punt, the Cowboys defense then couldn’t get the stop they needed as Rivers continued to pick them apart. Tight end Antonio Gates got behind Lee deep down the middle, breaking free for a 56-yard touchdown with just under seven minutes remaining.
The Cowboys tried to get back in the game and were knocking on the door, driving all the way down to the San Diego 7-yard line. But on second-and-goal, Terrance Williams caught a pass across the middle and then tried to stretch the ball out over the goal line as he was being tackled. Instead, the ball was knocked loose, bouncing into the end zone where cornerback Richard Marshall recovered it, ending any hopes of a comeback for Dallas.
Despite the loss, the Cowboys are benefiting from a weak NFC East and remain in first place. But, they’ve got a tough job ahead of them now to avoid falling below .500, as they’ll face the red-hot Denver Broncos next Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
SAN DIEGO – Initial thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
What it means for the Cowboys: Once again the Cowboys let slip away a golden chance to show they were more of a team to watch in the NFC than just a team that can compete in a bad NFC East.
Dallas had an 11-point lead with 1:19 left in the first half, but allowed 20 straight points to the Chargers, leaving with another loss to an AFC West foe. And it doesn’t get easier with another AFC West foe, the Denver Broncos, visiting AT&T Stadium next week.
Cowboys lost 17-16 in Week 2 at Kansas City in a game they could have won, but the offense was unable to sustain any momentum. Today, the defense could not come up with any crucial stops after Sean Lee’s interception return for a touchdown.
Stock watch: Falling — Morris Claiborne. He is playing with a dislocated shoulder, but this was nothing to do with his ability to tackle. He was poor in coverage against Vincent Brown and rookie Keenan Allen. Philip Rivers continually went at Claiborne (as well as Bruce Carter, who could not stick with running back Danny Woodhead).
Can’t get off the field: After Lee’s second career pick-six, and the third defensive touchdown of the season, the Cowboys’ defense had no answers for Rivers, who was playing behind a line filled with backups.
After the Cowboys took that 21-10 lead, the San Diego offense ripped off 20 straight points with 310 yards on 37 plays. The Chargers only got to third down five times on those 37 plays, and converted three times against the Cowboys zone.
Rivers was hardly pressured, and he was able to toy with the secondary with receivers Allen, Brown, Royal, Woodhead (two touchdowns) and Antonio Gates (56-yard touchdown).
Can’t stay on the field: Offensively the Dallas Cowboys ran just seven plays in the third quarter.
Their second possession of the second half lasted only seven plays because a Ronald Leary holding penalty negated a first-down catch by Cole Beasley at the San Diego 32. Two plays later Jason Witten couldn’t hold on to a seam throw from Tony Romo and the Cowboys were forced to punt. The Chargers answered with Gates’ back-breaking touchdown.
The Cowboys’ third possession of the second half ended at the Chargers’ goal line when rookie receiver Terrance Williams fumbled, ending any chances for a miracle comeback.
What’s next: Peyton Manning visits AT&T Stadium for the first time when the Denver Broncos come to town, and it is only the second time Manning will play in the area as a pro. Manning brought the 9-0 Indianapolis Colts to Texas Stadium on Nov. 19, 2006, and lost 21-14.
After a convincing victory over St. Louis at home, the Cowboys head to San Diego to face the Chargers with designs on improving their record to 3-1 for the first time since 2008. Dallas will hope to take advantage of the Chargers’ weak pass defense and beat-up offensive line. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
Before DeMarco Murray rushed for 175 yards – the second-highest total of his career – the Cowboys spent the previous week fending off criticism of their woeful ground attack. Now that it appears their running game has been resuscitated, the Cowboys have to prove their performance in their 31-7 victory over St. Louis wasn’t a fluke. They’ll have a good chance to do that against the Chargers, who are yielding 130 rushing yards per game – the fifth-highest average in the NFL.
When the Cowboys pass
It seems to have gone largely unnoticed, but Tony Romo is off to a nice start in 2013. Only Peyton Manning has completed a higher percentage of his pass attempts than Romo, who also has thrown one interception. Romo was particularly effective in a 31-7 victory over St. Louis last Sunday, contributing three touchdown passes. The Chargers have conceded 340.7 passing yards per game – the highest average in the league. They have also allowed 16 completions of 20 yards or more.
When the Chargers run
San Diego’s rushing attack hasn’t been great. The Chargers have gained 102.7 yards per game on the ground – an average that is 18th-best in the NFL. But they have had only four negative running plays – the lowest total in the league. That bodes well for the Chargers against a Dallas defense that has yielded 199 rushing yards – the second-fewest in the NFL this season. Whether San Diego can get any big gains out of its running game remains in doubt. So far, they’ve produced only one carry of 20 yards or more.
When the Chargers pass
Philip Rivers has looked great the first three weeks of the season. He has avoided the costly mistakes that bit him in years past, throwing eight touchdown passes and only one interception. He’s also completed 70 percent of his passes. Rivers is only as good as his protection is. And the Chargers’ line will have its work cut out against a Cowboys defense that has produced 13 sacks – the second-highest total in the NFL this season.
The Cowboys’ special teams reverted to the poor form they showed in the preseason last Sunday in their victory over St. Louis. Dwayne Harris fumbled away a punt and Dan Bailey missed a 35-yard field goal. The coach who presides over these players, Rich Bisaccia, returns to San Diego, where he worked the previous two seasons. He’ll want the Cowboys to have a better showing than the one they had against the Rams. They may be able to take advantage of the Chargers’ Nick Novak, who has produced only one touchback in 17 kickoffs.
The Cowboys seems to like Southern California. It’s a place where they have trained in the preseason. And it’s also one where they’ve won. In San Diego, Dallas is 4-1. In fact the Cowboys haven’t lost there since November 1983. It’s a surprising fact considering the Chargers have the 11th-highest home winning percentage since 2000. But the Cowboys appear to be comfortable in San Diego.
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When: Sunday, September 29nd, 2013 at 3:25 (Dallas time)
Where: Qualcomm Stadium San Diego, CA
Watch on TV: FOX and DIRECTV: 709
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Regular readers already know that The Boys Are Back blog features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, our “exalted one” was pretty much dead-on with his predictions.
Last weeks win over the ‘other’ Missouri team gives us die-hard Cowboys fans (and Demarco Murray) reason to celebrate. We’ve seen the sudden emergence of a running game and a havoc causing Texas-2 defense coming into their own identity. Today’s game in San Diego should feel like a Dallas Cowboys home game with the heavy fan base in sunny Southern California. Bruised Romo should be in better shape this week. While Miles Austin sits on the bench with his hamstring, Jason Garrett will ask next-men-up Terrence Williams, Dwayne Harris, and Cole Beasley to take up the slack. In the trenches, right guard Brian Waters is expected to start … and Mackenzy Bernadeau will be suited up as backup for both guard positions. The Dallas front-four will be without Anthony Spencer for the remainder of the 2013-2014 NFL season … but, Marinelli’s hungry linemen have shown they are up to the task through the first three games.
The GREAT Robbini is psyched about the Cowboys – Chargers incoming vibe… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions. OK, here we go …
The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys week #4 predictions:
Cowboys set up shop in San Diego, Qualcomm stadium looks like ‘home away from home’
The Dallas Cowboys, on a mission to fuel up their game before hosting “unstoppable” Denver, get behind the wheel in Norv’s old town. They’ll head back to Big D, with plenty in the tank and a ‘W’ in the trunk. Expect a high octane performances from Dez, Demarco, TE group and Kiffin’s boys.
Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …
- 3 takeaways
- DeMarcus Ware 3 sacks
- J.J. Wilcox 1 sack
- Brandon Carr INT
- Jason Hatcher 2 sacks
- 6 team sacks
- Carter/Wilcox lead tackles
- 1 San Diego Charger injured
Predictions for the offense …
- Tony Romo 300 yards, 4 TDs
- Dez Bryant 75 yards, 2 TDs
- Williams 50 yards
- Beasley 30 yards
- Jason Witten 65 yards, TD
- Gavin Escobar 30 yards, TD
- James Hanna 15 yards
- Demarco Murray TD
- Rushing committee 150 yards
- Offensive line 3 penalties
- Cowboys receive opening kick
- Offense starts game with possession
- Cowboys control time of possession
The GREAT Robbini
Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for week #4. Leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.