SAN DIEGO – The Cowboys once again find themselves in an all too familiar spot, falling from 2-1 to 2-2 for the fourth time in the past five years after failing to slow the Chargers’ attack Sunday in San Diego.
In a division that features a winless team and two one-win teams, the Cowboys had an opportunity to take a stranglehold of the NFC East as the lone team with a winning record. Instead, they fell to .500 once again, allowing lengthy drives to Philip Rivers and suffering a scoring drought late in a 30-21 loss.
“It’s tough,” said tight end
The Cowboys led, 21-10, in the second quarter before the Chargers tallied 20 unanswered points and controlled a second half in which the Cowboys didn’t score. The Cowboys’ final four possessions, which is all they had in the second half, included two punts and a fumble, while San Diego scored points on three of its final four possessions.
All the momentum from
Rivers, who finished with 401 passing yards and completed 35 of his 42 passes, had the Chargers moving on that drive when
A 21-10 lead quickly became a 23-21 deficit, as Danny Woodhead got going, scoring his second receiving touchdown of the day in the third quarter against
Tight end Antonio Gates, who burned the Cowboys with 10 catches for 136 yards, beat Lee deep for a 56-yard touchdown that put the game out of reach.
“I went to go get him, and he gave me just a little bit of a nudge to get a little bit of separation and Rivers put the ball right on the money,” Lee said. “It’s one of those deals where it’s one of the best I’ve ever played against. I haven’t seen a tight end be able to wiggle like that full speed and be gone. If I could play it again, I’d probably try to stay higher on the route.”
Dallas failed to score in the first quarter, punting the ball three times, and the Cowboys reverted back to that form in the second half, while the Chargers continued to pour on points and eat up time.
“I think every time we lose, we look back and say, ‘We could have, we should have,’” Romo said. “Today, we just squandered a few opportunities. With minimal possessions, it’s going to come down to a few things you do right or wrong.”
Romo finished 27-of-37 with 244 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, while
“We didn’t get a lot of possessions in the second half, but that’s not an excuse,” Murray said. “We’ve got to capitalize on every opportunity we get.
Rivers was content to dink and dunk down the field, as the Cowboys struggled to stop Woodhead and the short passing game. The vaunted pass rush of past weeks was completely halted by the Chargers’ quick attack.
But the offense couldn’t get going after that, stalling late while the defense wore down from San Diego’s long drives.
“They stayed on the field and limited our offensive opportunities,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “We weren’t able to cash in on enough of the opportunities on offense to keep pace with them.”
The earlier gaffes in the game also came back to bite them. The Cowboys started a second quarter drive with a huge punt return brought to midfield by
“We had the wind, and we have a lot of confidence in Dan Bailey and felt like we were real close to his range to be able to make that kick,” Garrett said. “He got it there, he just missed it left. It’s always an aggressive decision there. We felt like it was important to try to take advantage of that opportunity.”
The Cowboys still had a shot late despite the second-half woes on both sides of the ball, but a second-and-7 pass to
“At that point it was a two-score game,” Garrett said. “If we knock it in there, we give ourselves a chance coming back, but they made the play and we didn’t.”
That seemed to be the case throughout the second half, as the Cowboys fell to .500 and failed to open a sizable lead in the NFC East.