Chargers’ problems with penalties cost them in last-second loss to Cowboys
The Chargers moved the ball well enough Sunday that they finished the game with zero punts.
Zero punts. Every other NFL team punted at least once so far in Week 2.
Yet, a parade of penalties and another red-zone turnover meant the Chargers scored only one touchdown in a maddening 20-17 loss to Dallas before 70,240 at SoFi Stadium.
Just one touchdown. That’s one fewer than the number of touchdowns the Chargers had nullified by penalties Sunday.
Here are some of photos of Sunday’s showdown between the Chargers and Dallas Cowboys from photographers Gina Ferazzi and Allen J. Schaben.
“This game was about the Chargers,” coach Brandon Staley said. “All the other stuff, I don’t really want to talk about ... We didn’t play a clean enough game to win.”
The messiest moment came on the Chargers’ final drive just as they appeared to produce a go-ahead touchdown.
But that wasn’t the fatal penalty on the play. Instead, it was an illegal motion call that wiped out the touchdown. Cook’s penalty came after the score, meaning the touchdown would have counted.
So Dallas refused that one and accepted the illegal shift, pushing Herbert and the offense back to the seven-yard line.
The drive then stalled, and Tristan Vizcaino kicked a 29-yard field goal to make it 17-17 with 3:58 remaining.
The score was even but the field was tilted toward the Cowboys, who needed only a field goal to win. Dallas’ Greg Zuerlein produced those points with a 56-yarder as time expired.
“We’ll grow from this,” Staley said, “because, with all that said, we’re in the fourth quarter, at the very end, against a very good team with a chance to win.”
But about that illegal shift? Staley said he received no explanation from the officials because he couldn’t get their attention. Addressing the media minutes after the game, he said he hadn’t yet seen a replay.
In a pool report, referee Tony Corrente said all 11 Chargers weren’t set before the ball was snapped. The rule book calls for each offensive player to be set for at least one second.
The home team didn’t feel much more at home, losing 20-17 to the Cowboys on a last-second field goal that caused three-quarters of the 70,240 fans to bounce gleefully in their seats.
Cook went in motion from the left side of the formation and Mike Williams, lined up outside on the right, stepped slightly backward just before the ball was snapped.
The penalty was one of 12 against the Chargers, who lost 99 yards on those violations.
“It felt like a preseason game, to be honest with you,” Staley said. “That was just the way the game was officiated today.”
Herbert finished 31 of 41 for 338 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown to Williams. But he also was intercepted on the Chargers’ first possession and again in the final seconds of the third quarter.
The latter pickoff came when Keenan Allen fell and Dallas safety Damontae Kazee secured the interception two yards into the end zone.
“I gotta be smart,” Herbert said. “I got to see when he goes down. I got to go to my next read.”
Herbert had a pair of red-zone turnovers in his team’s season-opening 20-16 victory at Washington. The Chargers have scored only three touchdowns on their first 10 red-zone trips.
Four plays before the interception, Herbert hit Donald Parham Jr. for a 36-yard touchdown that would have given the Chargers a 21-14 lead. That score was taken off the board by a holding call on Cook.
In the end, the mistakes and the Cowboys proved too much for the Chargers to overcome, even on a day when Ty Long’s only punt was nullified by a Dallas penalty.
“We stayed together,” Staley said. “We had a chance in the fourth quarter, OK? And there wasn’t anybody on our sideline that did not believe that we were going to win. And that’s a big part of the NFL.
“The other part of the NFL is you’re going to lose tight games like this because most of the games against really good teams come down to the end. And we lost a tight one today, OK? So what we need to do is learn why we lost and then be able to come back tomorrow, get rested up and learn from it.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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