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San Diego Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys
The San Diego Chargers return to action following last Thursday’s 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers when they host the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium. Both teams are coming off 8-8 seasons in 2011 and look poised to make a return trip to the playoffs after missing out last year.
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A Look Back At Last Week
The Chargers opened the preseason with a commanding 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers. A pair of touchdowns by Antonio Gates and Vincent Brown gave the home team an early 14-0 lead, and the Bolts led 14-7 at halftime. The Packers scored early in the fourth quarter, but missed the two-point conversion. A couple series later, Curtis Brinkley plunged into the end zone on a one-yard dive to secure the San Diego victory.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
With Ryan Mathews out four-to-six weeks with a broken clavicle, head coach Norv Turner expects to deploy a running back by committee, with Ronnie Brown getting the bulk of the carries. Still, expect tailbacks Edwin Baker, Jackie Battle, Curtis Brinkley, Michael Hayes and fullback Le’Ron McClain to see plenty of touches as well.
In the passing game, Charlie Whitehurst appears set to make his preseason debut after sitting out the opener recovering from his leg injury. How the quarterbacks divvy up their time between Philip Rivers, Jarrett Lee and Whitehurst remains to be seen.
On Offense for the Cowboys
Dallas’ offense is led by Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, the NFL’s fourth-leading passer with a rating of 102.5 in 2011. His top returning targets are tight end Jason Witten (79 rec., 942 yards and 5 TDs) and wide receivers Dez Bryant (63-928-9) and Miles Austin (43-579-7). After running back Felix Jones was injured, rookie DeMarco Murray gave the Cowboys running game a spark as he finished the season with 897 yards and a 5.5 yards per carry average.
On Defense for the Chargers
After struggling in third-down situations in 2011, the Chargers vastly improved in that area in the team’s opener vs. the Packers. San Diego forced seven three-and-outs in addition to a fourth-down stop that turned into an interception. The team was very impressive in forcing turnovers as a whole, recovering three fumbles in addition to the aforementioned pick.
In addition, the Chargers were encouraged by the play of their top two rookies, Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes. Look for their continued use in various situations this Saturday night. Ingram finished the game with two tackles and had the QB pressure that directly led to the interception. Reyes created havoc at the line of scrimmage, amassing one tackle and three assists along with half a sack.
On Defense for the Cowboys
Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware led the Cowboys in 2011 and ranked second in the NFL with 19.5 sacks, while fellow linebacker Sean Lee led the squad with 131 tackles and tied for the team lead with four interceptions. The Cowboys added a young playmaker to their defense in April’s NFL Draft with the selection of LSU’s Morris Claiborne, winner of the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
Preseason Series History
The game marks the 14th preseason matchup between the Chargers and Cowboys in the teams’ history, with Dallas leading the series seven to six. The teams have squared off during the last two preseasons with the Chargers winning 20-7 in Dallas last year and the Cowboys beating the Chargers, 16-14, in San Diego in 2010. The first preseason meeting between the teams took place in San Diego in 1970.
By the Numbers
So far this preseason, the Chargers rank 12th in total offense (326.0 yards per game), sixth in passing (258.0 ypg) and 26th in rushing (68.0ypg). The Cowboys rank 29th in total offense (202.0 ypg), 22nd in passing (148.0 ypg) and 29th in rushing (54.0 ypg).
Defensively, the Bolts rank 9th in total defense (230 ypg), 18th in passing (179.0 ypg) and 3rd in rushing (51.0 ypg), while the Cowboys rank 11th in total defense (253.0 ypg), 14th in passing (164.0 ypg) and 15th in rushing (89.0 ypg).
Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator in Dallas (1991-93), winning Super Bowl titles with the Cowboys following the ’92 and ’93 seasons.
Current Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett was a backup quarterback with the Cowboys during Turner’s final season in Dallas.
Kicker Nick Novak spent a brief time in Cowboys camp as a rookie in 2005.
Running back Jackie Battle originally signed with Dallas as an undrafted rookie in 2007.
Cornerback Greg Gatson was born in Dallas, Texas.
Secondary coach Ron Meeks was a defensive assistant with the Cowboys in 1991.
Offensive line coach Mike Sullivan was drafted by the Cowboys in the sixth round in ’91.
Special teams assistant Carlos Polk played for the Cowboys in 2008.
The Chargers overcame a 20-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Dallas, 21-20 in the first ever AFL game.
The longest run in Chargers history was an 87 yard touchdown sprint by Paul Low at Dallas on Sept. 10, 1961
KFMB-TV (Channel 8 in San Diego) and KCBS0–TV (Channel 2 in Los Angeles) – Rich Cellini (play-by-play), Billy Ray Smith (analyst)*
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst) and Mike Costa (reporter)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst)
* If the game does not sell out, it will be shown on tape-delay.
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Watch every 2012 Preseason game LIVE or on demand in HD on your computer or tablet device. Please note the NFL blackout policy applies. Blacked-out games will be made available on demand in the NFL Preseason Live archives. BUY NOW! Read