The San Diego Chargers made quite an impression to kick off the 2014 preseason, routing the Dallas Cowboys 27-7.
The Chargers won the opening coin toss and opted to defer, bringing Defensive Coordinator John Pagano’s defense up first. Brandon Weeden quarterbacked the Cowboys, and the visitors picked up a pair of third downs to move Dallas into San Diego territory. Fortunately, on consecutive plays Jerry Attaochu and Melvin Ingram brought tremendous pressure forcing a punt. Philip Rivers and company took over at their own 17. A strong run by Ryan Mathews and quick strike to Ladarius Green gave San Diego their initial first down of the preseason. Two plays later, Rivers hit Danny Woodhead out of the backfield and number 39 made a number of Cowboys miss for a 25-yard gain. On a 3rd-and-5 from the 35-yard line, Rivers bought time with his feet, allowing Green to get open up the right sideline to the Dallas 15. A strong Woodhead run and a pass interference call on Dallas’ Terrance Mitchell against Malcom Floyd made it 1st-and –goal on the one. Unfortunately, Justin Durant forced a Mathews’ fumble as he soared toward the goal line, and Dallas recovered the ball for a touchback.
Tied 0-0 to open the second quarter, Weeden connected with tight end Gavin Escobar to the Chargers 20-yard line. It appeared Richard Marshall came up with a clutch interception, however a holding call negated the turnover. Three plays later Weeden escaped pressure from Attaochu, Lawrence Guy and Tourek Williams, hitting James Hanna in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead. Kellen Clemens relieved Rivers, and behind strong running by Donald Brown and a quick strike to Seyi Ajirotutu moved the ball into Dallas territory. On 3rd-and-4, Clemens found Tevin Reese over the middle, and the seventh-round pick turned on the jets for a 17-yard gain. A few plays later, undrafted rookie Branden Oliver took a handoff and grinded out a punishing 16-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Bolts’ defense responded with a three-and-out, highlighted by Jahleel Addae’s break up on 3rd-and-1. Back with the ball, Dontrelle Inman hauled in a 22-yard pass down to Dallas’ 37-yard line. Set up by a nice block by David Johnson, Oliver churned his legs for 27 yards. One play after the two-minute warning, the Chargers had 3rd-and-goal from the three yard line. Clemens attempted a QB draw, but was brought down for a three yard loss and the Bolts settled for a 24-yard Nick Novak field goal and a 10-7 lead. The Cowboys moved the ball to the 49-yard line, but the defense stood tall and the Chargers entered halftime with the lead.
The Bolts went three-and-out to start the second half, and Caleb Hanie entered to quarterback the visitors. A Reggie Walker/Cordarro Law sack forced a punt, giving the ball back to the Chargers, who took a 17-7 lead when Clemens hit Inman perfectly in stride for a 70-yard strike. On the Cowboys first snap from scrimmage, Thomas Keiser flew in for a strip sack of Hanie, and Damik Scafe recovered the ball to make it first-and-goal for the Bolts. Two plays later, Kerwynn Williams powered off a tackle for a 24-7 lead. Keiser’s pressure on the next drive forced a three-and-out, setting up Brad Sorensen at the San Diego 19-yard line. Big catches by Javontee Herndon and Michael Flacco moved the ball to the Dallas 40-yard line. Marion Grice hauled in a five yard gain on 3rd-and-4 to end the third quarter.
The drive stalled to begin the fourth quarter as the Chargers threw their first incompletion of the game, settling for a 34-yard field goal and 27-7 lead. Once again, the Chargers defense forced a punt as Greg Ducre had blanket coverage deep downfield. A 15-yard pass to Ryan Otten and an 18-yard sprint by Grice pushed the ball to midfield. However, the drive stalled and Chase Tenpenny punted back to the Cowboys. Faced with 3rd-and-7, Cowboys QB Dustin Vaughan connected with Jamar Newsome for a 27-yard pick up and a first down. Marching into Chargers territory, Vaughan scrambled on third and short to pick up another first down. The two minute warning struck as the Cowboys inched their way inside the five yard line. Stopped short on third down, the Cowboys decided to give it one more shot on fourth down only to be shut out once more as with a Bolts sack on Vaughan. The Chargers took over on downs and Brad Sorensen took a knee to end the game in a 27-7 Chargers victory.
Up by a field goal early in the third quarter, the Chargers took a 10 point lead and never looked back when Kellen Clemens placed a perfect throw up the right sideline to a streaking Dontrelle Inman. The wide receiver blew past the corner, caught the ball in stride and showed off his speed as he burst 70 yards into the end zone.
It was Over When…
Less than a minute after Inman’s touchdown the Bolts staked themselves to a 17-point advantage. On the Cowboys’ first offensive snap, Thomas Keiser came in for a strip-sack, and two plays later Kerwynn Williams bulldozed into the end zone to pretty much put the game out of reach.
Play of the Game
Brandon Oliver’s sprint up the gut for the Chargers’ first TD of the preseason made national headlines. Showing strong burst and power, the rookie showed off his speed before displaying power by carrying defenders into the end zone.
Stat of the Game
The Chargers' quarterbacks started the game a perfect 12-12, and didn’t throw an incomplete pass until the fourth quarter. Overall they finished 14-16 for 243 yards.
"We wanted the young players to step up and do good things, and I think there were a number of guys. Obviously there was Oliver. Reese made some plays, Inman. There were a lot o fplayers defensively, a lot of younger players who made some big plays and got some pressure on the quarterback." - Head Coach Mike McCoy
“Anytime you’re in a no-huddle deal, you can go fast like we did tonight or you can go slow. You can slow it down and stop it with two seconds on the play clock. So, we’ll mix it up, we’re going to huddle. It’s not like we’re going to be exclusive no-huddle. We’ll huddle. We’ll go fast. We’ll go slow. We’re going to mix it up. I don’t think that first drive is exactly who we’re going to be four quarters of every game, but we certainly want that to be a part of the year.” –Quarterback Philip Rivers
“It felt great to be out there again. I made some good contact to know where I’m at. This is live contact, and that was important. So I’m even more confident now moving on.” –Wide Receiver Malcom Floyd
“It’s always good to display a little bit of something. It’s not just about me. I’ve never been the type of guy who always took all the credit. My teammates, I work with Eddie Royal every day, on and off practice, in the meeting rooms and everything. It’s not about me.” – Wide Receiver Dontrelle Inman
“This is just only one game and you can’t get complacent. So (there’s) more to come and I’ve got a group of great veterans in the running back room that I’m going to keep learning from, and coach Ollie Wilson. So it’s not the end of it.” – Running Back Branden Oliver
Odds and Ends
The Chargers outgained Dallas with 395 yards to 274. San Diego had an advantage through the air (243 to 182) and on the ground (152 to 92).
San Diego converted 50% on third down (5-for-10).
The Bolts ran a total of 58 offensive plays while the Cowboys ran 61.
The Chargers averaged 6.8 yards per play while limiting Dallas to just 92.
Kellen Clemens had a perfect passer rating of 158.3, completing all five of his attempts for 134 yards and one touchdown.
Branden Oliver led all rushers with 64 yards on seven carries, averaging 9.1 yards per carry with one touchdown.
Dontrelle Inman led all receivers with three catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Reggie Walker paced the defense with five tackles.
Thomas Keiser and Colton Underwood each had a sack, while Reggie Walker and Cordarro Law had 0.5 a piece.
Chargers vs.Cowboys In-Game Report