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Five Lessons

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Upon Further Review: Five Lessons from the Cowboys Game

Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers’ 28-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys:

1. A Philip Rivers Masterpiece – In one of the NFL’s signature games, Philip Rivers rose to the occasion with an absolute masterpiece. Number 17 completed 27-of-33 attempts for 434 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. In the process, he posted the third-highest passer rating of his career (149.1). It’s also the highest passer rating against the Dallas Cowboys in their entire history when the opposing quarterback posts at least 30 attempts. Rivers’ 434 passing yards were the fourth-most of his career as he became only the second quarterback in NFL history to surpass 400 yards on the road on Thanksgiving. After his team fell 28-6, Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett couldn’t help but gush over Rivers:

“Philip Rivers was outstanding the whole game… The quarterback is outstanding. You try to different things when you play a guy like this. You try to man, you try to pressure him and try to do things different ways and I don’t know if it was one thing they tried to play man coverage and they beat us at different times and they beat us in different ways. I thought they did a good job protecting him. He always does a great job getting the ball out and they do a good job getting guys outside.”

2. A Big Play Day – The Chargers carved up the Cowboys with a number of big plays on offense. All in all, Rivers had two completions over 40 yards, five over 30 and eight over 20. He did so by connecting to five different targets in Keenan Allen (two), Hunter Henry (two), Tyrell Williams (two), Austin Ekeler and Travis Benjamin. After the game, Rivers’ arsenal of playmakers weighed in on how locked in the quarterback was, but no one put it better than Henry:

“Shoot, he’s locked in every day, but today he was on point for sure. There are not many that are like him. That’s why I think he’s a Hall of Famer. It was special for him to do this in this stadium this atmosphere and this magnitude of a game.”

3. O-Line Dominates – Of course, the offense’s big game never would have been possible without the play of the o-line. The Chargers arrived in Dallas knowing they had to limit one of the NFL’s most dangerous pass rushes. They pitched a shutout. While the entire unit should be lauded, right tackle Joe Barksdale deserves a ton of credit. After missing over a month of action, he returned to face the NFL’s leading sack master in DeMarcus Lawrence (11.5). He shut him out. After the game, Rivers made sure to give credit to the offensive line:

“The guys up front were awesome. Going against a guy who’s leading the league in sacks, he didn’t get one and we didn’t give up a sack. The guys up front were awesome.”

4. Keenan’s Monster Game – Fresh off one of the finest performances of his career, it’s crazy to think that Keenan Allen posted an even better one on Thursday. KA13 set a career-high with 173 yards as he hauled in 11 catches, including a 42-yard TD. In the span of five days, Allen has caught 23 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns to reclaim his place as an elite receiver. Still, his signature moment came in the fourth quarter on a touchdown catch-and-run in which he made half the Cowboys defense miss. Allen walked reporters through the play after the game:

“They were in two man. We had a great play call. I had a corner route. The two men, they’re playing inside and I’m outside. Obviously, that’s a good play. Phil threw a great ball. After that, gotta make them miss and get in the end zone…I used to be a running back…I just knew the safety was coming. Once I felt the safety, I broke out. I had to get up field really fast. After that, it was a matter of making those guys miss.”

5. King Called His Shot – As impressive as the offense was, the defense was equally dominating. They limited Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to just six points, giving up only 79 yards on the ground and 179 in the air. Their signature moment came in the fourth quarter, when Desmond King picked off Prescott at the Bolts’ 10-yard line before running it 90-yards to the house for a pick-six. What’s even more impressive is that he called his shot back in April, declaring before the draft that his first interception would be a pick-six. The rookie described the magnitude of the moment:

“All I can say about that, is when the ball is in the air, we want to go get it. The ball is ours when it is in the air. When we get the ball in our hands, we want to take it for a touchdown. We want to score. That is our motto, get the ball in our hands, go for the end zone.”

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