Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif.
Dallas – 21
San Diego – 30
|Position Units||First Half Grades||Final Grades|
Final Analysis for Dallas Cowboys:
Pass Offense: Tony Romo survived a slow start but got hot in the second quarter while hitting Dez Bryant for two touchdowns. It was a solid game all the way around despite some modest stats. Rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams remains a liability in an offense that lacked Miles Austin.
Run Offense: This was actually a strength for the Dallas offense, but it was one not relied upon by offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. An average of 5.0 yards per carry would win most games, at least with a defense that could cover a tiny wide receiver like San Diego's Danny Woodhead.
Pass Defense: Rivers lobbed the ball around Qulacomm Stadium for an embarrassing 401 yards and three touchdowns. This was an issue the Cowboys faced against the New York Giants as Eli Manning, a winless quarterback still, also crossed the 400-yard barrier. Manning has Super Bowl rings, at least. An interception by Sean Lee was returned for a touchdown in the second quarter, but the defense did little else in a completely embarrassing performance. A receiver like Woodhead should never, ever score multiple touchdowns, period.
Run Defense: A front seven that had yet to allow a 100-yard rusher all season remained perfect in that regard. A total of 112 yards would have been survivable, had the offense done anything beyond the second quarter.
Special Teams: A missed 56-yard field goal hurt to some extent, but the special teams unit really didn't have much opportunity to make a difference as the Dallas defense essentially took the afternoon off after the second quarter.
Coaching: It's unclear what exactly the game plan was heading into this contest, but I'm sure the idea wasn't to allow a pedestrian wide receiver to score two touchdowns for a San Diego team that likely won't even make the postseason. It's probably unfair to pin this game on Jason Garrett, but it seems like defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin might have been thinking more about his fired son, Lane, who was dismissed by USC following an equally embarrassing blowout loss for the Trojans. This was a real head-scratcher. The Cowboys are clearly thin at defensive tackle, and starting cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr looked lost all afternoon.
First-Half Analysis for the Dallas Cowboys:
Pass Offense: It was a slow start as Tony Romo threw incompletions on his first four attempts. He was sacked twice on his first three possessions. A blistering fourth possession put the Cowboys on the board on a Dez Bryant jump ball in the end zone. Romo was 6-for-6 on the drive. This started a stretch where Romo went 8-for-8. The second touchdown pass to Dez Bryant off of a play-action play was stellar, putting the Cowboys up 14-10.
Run Offense: DeMarco Murray started fast with a 10-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. A quiet 49 yards on nine carries was enough to take the pressure off of Romo. Lance Dunbar had a single carry for seven yards on go-ahead touchdown drive before the half.
Pass Defense: Philip Rivers started hot as Morris Claiborne and Bruce Carter were beaten for big gains and a touchdown, respectively. Danny Woodhead should never catch a deep pass against anybody. The second quarter marked a difference as coverage got tighter. A George Selvie sack before the two-minute warning preceded a Rivers interception returned for a touchdown by Sean Lee. It would have been nice not to allow points just before half.
Run Defense: Dallas' defensive line was strong against the run despite 24 yards given up in first quarter. The damage was done in the air. The Chargers ground game wasn't completely shut down but it also wasn´t good enough to sustain drives.
Special Teams: No complaints on special teams as they simply weren´t a factor. Punting was as good as you can expect, given how slowly Dallas' offense started, including poor field position. Dwayne Harris' punt return of 38 yards was a huge play with a 7-7 score. We can´t really knock Dan Bailey for his 56-yard miss.
Coaching: Jason Garrett was patient early on, as was offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. It might have been a better idea to punt instead of trying that missed 56-yard field goal attempt. Dallas was controlling the tempo at that point, but Nick Novak kicked a go-ahead field goal as a result of a short field following the Bailey miss. Their time out conservation showed good discipline.