San Diego Chargers Preseason: 10 Observations Vs. Dallas Cowboys
The San Diego Chargers played just their second game of the 2010 NFL pre-season, welcoming in the Dallas Cowboys.
For those in attendance who were hoping to watch a good game between two of the top teams in football, they didn't exactly get the kind of game they were hoping for.
Interceptions, dropped passes, questionable defense, and the like took over the game and turned into a 16-14 win for the Cowboys thanks to a Chargers' safety with just under four minutes to play in the game.
There was a big tackle in the game however, but it wasn't from someone you'd expect.
Here are 10 observations from the Chargers' loss to the Cowboys on Saturday.
Two Turnovers in Four Drives
The offense wasn't as sharp this time around as they were in their first pre-season game, turning the ball over twice in the their first four drives.
What might worry Charger fans, and rightly so, is the first turnover deep in Cowboys' territory. They were 10 plays and 61 yards into the drive before Philip Rivers was intercepted by Terrance Newman at the Cowboys' 19-yard line.
The team's fourth possession of the game, starting from their own six yard line, got deep into Cowboys' territory once again but a fumble by Darren Sproles ended after an almost eight minute drive.
Even if they don't put the ball in the end zone, two field goals would have been enough for the win.
Ryan Mathews Continues To Impress
One week after surprising a lot of Charger fans on his running style, not to mention running over a Bears' linebacker, he impressed even the media against the Cowboys.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune tweeted during the game, "Mathews nine-yard around right end on 1st play second series. Shown how he can churn up middle, now how he can fly outside." And, though not directly, took a small shot at LaDainian Tomlinson, "This kid is breaking arm tackle, bouncing off bodies. Haven't seen it here in a while. Just saying."
Even teammate Kris Dielman praised Mathews, "The guy runs hard, man, he told Marty Caswell of XX Sports Radio. "It's gonna be a fun, exciting year. I can't wait."
Mathews finished the night with 53 yards on 12 carries.
Chargers' Defense Solid
The Chargers defense was solid, especially the first team defense led by Eric Weddle who intercepted Tony Romo in the second quarter.
They held the Cowboys' first team offense to just 49 yards including 30 yards from Tony Romo who finished the night completing just four of his 11 passes on the night. They also held the Cowboys to just eight yards rushing in the entire first half.
Offensive Line Shaky
With Marcus McNeill still holding out and the announcement, just hours before the game, of left tackle Tra Thomas retiring, it leaves them short in the depth area in that position.
The offensive line gave up three sacks on Saturday night including one of third-string quarterback Jonathan Crompton which ended up as a safety that was the eventual deciding score.
Penalities Were Way Down From Their First Game
After being whistled for 10 penalties in their first pre-season game against Chicago, they improved dramatically this past weekend, whistled for just four.
They're going to need to keep those at a minimum if they're going to keep their drives moving and keep the opposing team from gaining unnecessary yards.
Offense Moved The Ball at Will
If you take the interception away in the Chargers' first drive, the offense was doing whatever they wanted to do however they wanted to do it.
Quarterback Philip Rivers was hitting his receivers, Ryan Mathews was running through and around players, and they were moving the ball with ease.
The same could be said for the team's fourth drive that ended in a Darren Sproles' fumble. Both drives had reached deep into Cowboys' territory.
That's a promising sign, even for a pre-season game.
Seyi Ajirotutu Makes a Convincing Argument
Another former Fresno State star is making a name for himself with the San Diego Chargers, and this one just happens to be a former roommate of Chargers' running back Ryan Mathews.
Wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu is an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State and made a convincing argument for himself on Saturday, catching three passes for 73 yards including a 56-yard reception from former Fresno State quarterback Billy Volek.
He is fighting for the number five spot on the receiving corp and if he continues to put up performances like he did on Saturday, he could run away with the job.
Philip Rivers Makes the Hit of the Night
After Darren Sproles fumbled the ball in the Chargers' fourth drive of the game, Cowboys' safety Barry Church scooped it up and took off the other way for what looked to be a sure touchdown.
Enter Philip Rivers.
The Chargers' quarterback said his football instincts took over and he raced after Church, catching him 70 yards later with a thundering shot that made fans hold their breath for a few hair raising seconds.
Rivers would get up and would be taken out of the ballgame by head coach Norv Turner who told the Associated Press, “I just knew he was going to do that. I’d prefer that he didn’t do it. He’s a football player out there and he did what he did.”
Still No Marcus McNeill
Chargers' offensive lineman Marcus McNeill continues to hold out and it doesn't look to have any end it sight.
McNeill and his agent met with Chargers' general manager A.J. Smith on Thursday but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the two sides were "nowhere close."
Antonio Gates Leads a Good Corps of Receivers
The San Diego Chargers have a solid corps of receivers for quarterback Philip Rivers to take advantage of. Antonio Gates leads the way along with guys like Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee, Josh Reed, and up and coming rookie Seyi Ajirotutu.
Could be the most talented group of receivers the Chargers have had in quite some time.