The story of the Chargers’ 20-17 loss to the Cowboys in six highlights
Here’s the story, in six tweets and highlights, of the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-17 victory over the Chargers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday:
1. Ezekiel Elliott scores on a five-yard run to give Dallas a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
2. Justin Herbert and Mike Williams hook up a 12-yard screen pass for a TD to make it 14-11.
3. Justin Herbert was sharp, going 31 for 41 with 338 yards, including these two lasers:
4. But Herbert was also picked off twice. Driving toward a go-ahead TD, he was intercepted by Damontae Kazee in the end zone. Score remains 14-14.
5. Greg The Leg, with the coda:
Chargers lose another close one, this one as time expires
The Chargers, losers of 16 games by one score or less in the previous two seasons, lost another close one when former Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein booted a 56-yard field goal as time expired to lift Dallas to a 20-17 victory over the Chargers.
The Chargers fell to 1-1 and travel to Kansas City next Sunday.
Cowboys 20, Chargers 17, Final
Chargers tie game 17-17, penalty negates go-ahead touchdown
A game-ahead touchdown by the Chargers was wiped out by an illegal shift penalty, the team’s 12th accepted infraction of the game.
The Chargers then settled for a 29-yard Tristan Vizcaino field goal to tie the game 17-17.
Justin Herbert had hit tight end Jared Cook for a two-yard touchdown moments earlier, but the connection was nullified by the penalty.
Herbert is 31 of 41 for 338 yards.
Chargers 17, Cowboys 17, 3:54 left in fourth quarter
Cowboys take advantage of turnover, kick go-ahead field goal on next drive
Dallas moved ahead 17-14 on a 34-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
The Cowboys took possession after Justin Herbert was intercepted in the end zone by Damontae Kazee on a pass intended for Keenan Allen, who fell on the play.
Dallas moved deep into Chargers’ territory, but edge rusher Kyler Fackrell stopped the drive by sacking Dak Prescott and causing a fumble, which the Cowboys recovered.
Cowboys 17, Chargers 14, 9:00 left in fourth quarter
Justin Herbert interception kills go-ahead drive; 14-14 going into fourth
Chargers tie Cowboys on field goal to start the second half
The Chargers pulled even 14-14 on a 32-yard field goal by Tristan Vizcaino.
The 13-play, 61-yard drive featured another conversion on third-and-long when Justin Herbert connected with Keenan Allen for 42 yards on this third-and-15.
In scoring, the Chargers also overcame another brutal penalty. Herbert had a 31-yard hook up with Mike Williams nullified by an ineligible man downfield penalty on right guard Oday Aboushi.
Chargers 14, Cowboys 14, 9:22 left in third quarter
Halftime score: Cowboys 14, Chargers 11
The Chargers trail the Dallas 14-11 at halftime after Tristan Vizcaino’s 44-yard field goal try hit the left upright with three seconds remaining.
The miss was the first of Vizcaino’s career. Playing in his third NFL game, he made his first 10 attempts — six field goals and four extra points.
The Chargers have struggled on offense mostly because of penalties — they have committed nine for 79 yards — and right tackle Storm Norton’s inability to block Dallas’ Micah Parsons.
The rookie outside linebacker has been lining up outside Norton and continually beating him inside to pressure Justin Herbert.
The Cowboys nearly scored on the final play of the half after CeeDee Lamb took a pass from Dak Prescott and eventually lateraled to Ezekiel Elliott. But Derwin James Jr. forced Elliott out of bounds at the Chargers’ three-yard line.
Herbert is 17 of 20 for 161 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers get the ball to start the second half.
The first half of the Chargers-Cowboys game told in six tweets (see, especially, #6)
Halftime reading: Asante Samuel’s complicated relationship with his father
Asante Samuel Jr. has had a strong first half, which included his first career interception. Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller wrote this probing piece last week on the complicated relationship between Samuel and his father. Good halftime read.
They share so much. Both defensive backs, both 5 foot 10, both known as playmakers.
These two even share their name, Asante Samuel — Sr. and Jr.
But there is one thing neither is particularly comfortable sharing with the other:
When the Chargers drafted Samuel Jr. in the second round in April, the convenient assumption was that father helped make son, that two players so similar in style, so alike in technique just had to be close.
Turns out, that assumption was too convenient.
“People say, ‘Oh, he’s the son of Asante Samuel, so of course,’” Samuel Jr. said. “That’s kind of giving to his legacy and taking away from mine.… For some people, it’s like I’m trying to live off his name.”
Justin Herbert and Mike Williams hook up to close gap to 14-11
The Chargers converted a third-and-11 and a third-and-13 on a drive that ended in a Mike Williams’ 12-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter.
Justin Herbert hit tight end Jared Cook for 12 yards and Williams for 27 yards with an across-his-body throw to convert the two third-and-longs.
Austin Ekeler then ran for the two-point conversion to cut Dallas’ lead to 14-11.
Herbert has overcome an early interception to complete 11 of 12 passes for 117 yards. Williams has three catches for 46 yards.
Cowboys 14, Chargers 11, 9:49 left in second quarter
Ezekiel Elliott punches it from the 5 to give Dallas a 14-3 lead
Dallas continued to pound the ball during another touchdown drive late in the first quarter.
Ezekiel Elliott finished the seven-play, 75-yard with a five-yard scoring run to make it 14-3.
The Cowboys have 13 first downs and 76 yards on 14 carries to start the game. Quarterback Dak Prescott is nine for 11 for 98 yards.
The Chargers are playing without starting defensive tackle Justin Jones (calf) and his absence is glaring.
Cowboys 14, Chargers 3, end of first quarter
Asante Samuel Jr. interception sets up Chargers field goal
The Chargers pulled to within 7-3 on a 46-yard field goal by Tristan Vizcaino.
The possession was the result of Asante Samuel Jr.’s first career interception. The rookie picked off an errant pass; Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were not on the same page on the play.
Linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr., who left during the game’s first series because of an ankle injury, has returned to the game for the Chargers.
Cowboys 7, Chargers 3, 3:32 left in first quarter
Cowboys jump out to early lead on Tony Pollard rushing TD
After giving up one touchdown drive in their opener, the Chargers surrendered a TD drive to Dallas to start the game.
The Cowboys went 78 yards on 15 plays and scored on a four-yard run by Tony Pollard. Dallas picked up six first downs on the possession, including one on a fourth-down pass interference penalty on linebacker Kyzir White.
The Chargers also lost linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. to an ankle injury on the drive. He is questionable to return.
Cowboys 7, Chargers 0, 7:00 left in first quarter
Kenneth Murray Jr. leaves game with ankle injury
The Chargers lost top linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. on the opening drive of the game. He exited with an ankle injury. He is questionable to return.
Murray left the field immediately and was taken back to the locker room. He and safety Derwin James Jr. were the only defenders who played 100% of the Chargers’ defensive snaps in their season-opening win at Washington.
Drue Tranquill replaced Murray.
College roommates Joey Bosa of Chargers and Ezekiel Elliott of Cowboys set to duel
Things could get a little messy Sunday when the Chargers meet Dallas in their 2021 home opener at SoFi Stadium.
But messy is nothing new to Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott.
The former roommates at Ohio State are set to face one another as NFL players for the first time.
Elliott, the Cowboys’ three-time Pro Bowl running back, told reporters in Texas on Wednesday that he and Bosa were not exactly tidy during their college days. Bosa confirmed that assessment Thursday.
“We were both terrible,” he said. “There was not a winner on that. … Luckily, that’s changed over the years. No more pizza boxes and everything lying around.”
Bosa and Elliott were teammates with the Buckeyes from 2013-15. The Chargers drafted Bosa at No. 3 overall in 2016; the Cowboys took Elliott with the next pick.
Justin Herbert’s improvement now relies on the little things
He opened eyes in 2020, his performance making team history and lasting impressions.
“We saw all the spectacular things last year,” former scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “His improvement this year is going to be made in the mundane, boring, simple stuff.”
Few people have watched the 16 starts of Herbert’s career as intently as Jeremiah. Along with his television work, he also is part of the Chargers’ radio broadcast crew.
Jeremiah explained that Herbert’s strides in 2021 probably will be most visible in throwing to receivers underneath and on intermediate routes, neither of which is a staple of the highlight shows.
He said Herbert refining his touch on shorter passes and being more consistent overall — not exactly tantalizing qualities — are two other areas where the quarterback figures to improve.
Chargers put Bryan Bulaga on injured reserve, Chris Harris Jr. to miss Sunday
The Chargers placed right tackle Bryan Bulaga on injured reserve Friday and also ruled out defensive back Chris Harris Jr. for Sunday against Dallas.
Harris, the most experienced member of the secondary and a versatile piece for the Chargers, played all but one defensive snap in Week 1. He is dealing with a shoulder injury.
Coach Brandon Staley said he doesn’t believe Harris’ situation is anything long term, adding, “We’re just being careful.”
Chargers list of inactives against Cowboys released
Chargers vs. Cowboys matchups: Offensive line play key for each team
When Chargers have the ball: In recent seasons, this was the spot to mention the offensive line because of how much the Chargers struggled there. Now, the situation has flipped, the offensive line a glorious sight to the team and its fans in Week 1. The linemen provided ample protection for quarterback Justin Herbert in a 20-16 victory over Washington. All-Pro center Corey Linsley was solid-plus, as was rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater. “We had high expectations for him, but it’s good to see it validated,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said of Slater. “It’s good when your draft picks work like that. It’s certainly a credit to our scouting staff.” Slater was selected 13th in April and arrived as the starter. He did nothing but cement his status during training camp, even while dealing with a back injury. “He’s got really top-notch ability,” Lombardi said. “But there are a lot of guys that have that kind of ability. So I think it’s a work ethic. It’s a character issue. It’s a smarts issue. All those factors that you see in great players. ... I don’t want to crown him as the next Hall of Famer yet. It’s one game. But it was an impressive game against a really good caliber opponent.” Herbert has produced nine 300-yard games in 16 starts. Dallas gave up 379 yards to Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady in its opener.
Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys: Betting odds, analysis and picks
Betting lines and odds for Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)
The Chargers bring their 1-0 record into their home opener against the Cowboys at 1:25 p.m. Sunday at SoFi Stadium, but two VSiN handicappers have a difference of opinion on which team is the better bet.
Scott Seidenberg: The Cowboys are coming into this game with no pass rushers. DeMarcus Lawrence is out for several weeks and Randy Gregory is in COVID protocols. A makeshift defensive front will face a Chargers offensive line that looked great last week blocking the likes of Chase Young and Montez Sweat.