Few snaps in 2nd half lead to Cowboys loss

By BERNIE WILSON - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-29 21:10

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The Dallas Cowboys didn't score any points in the second half Sunday because they simply didn't have the ball enough.

Philip Rivers threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns, including a 56-yarder to Antonio Gates that helped the San Diego Chargers beat the Cowboys 30-21.

The Chargers (2-2) blew late leads in their two losses. On Sunday, they scored the final 20 points to beat Dallas (2-2).

``When you don't have a lot of possessions in the second half, it's not an excuse, but you have to capitalize on every opportunity we get,'' said running back DeMarco Murray, who was held to 70 yards after gaining 175 against St. Louis a week earlier.

``We knew they had a good offense. We knew they were a good team. We just have to get better.''

San Diego trailed 21-10 when Nick Novak started the comeback with a 42-yard field goal as the first-half clock expired.

The Chargers took the opening kickoff of the second half and Rivers moved them 80 yards, capping the drive with a 13-yard pass to Woodhead to pull to 21-20.

The way Rivers ran the offense, the Cowboys didn't have a chance to come back. They ran only seven offensive plays in the third quarter. Their second possession of the second half didn't come until the fourth quarter.

``Today we just squandered a few opportunities,'' Tony Romo said. ``With minimal possessions it's going to come down to the things that you do right or wrong. Obviously they did a good job controlling the ball. Their offense played great today. It was impressive.''

Rivers completed 35 of 42 passes, his final TD pass, to Gates, being the 200th of his career. He threw two TD passes to running back Danny Woodhead.

After having three 400-yard games in his previous nine seasons, Rivers has two in this year's four games. After 35 interceptions the past two seasons, he's been picked off only twice so far while throwing 11 touchdown passes.

Running a no-huddle, no-hurry offense under new coach Mike McCoy, Rivers gets to the line of scrimmage with roughly 20 seconds left on the play clock, enough time to read the defense and check into a different play, if necessary. It's a luxury he didn't have in Norv Turner's offense.

``I feel in sync. I have a rhythm and I'm comfortable in the pocket when we get that no-huddle going,'' Rivers said.

Rivers' biggest pass wasn't necessarily his prettiest. He short-armed one over the middle to Gates, who slid behind linebacker Sean Lee to haul it in and score with 6:54 to go.

Lee had intercepted Rivers on a deflected pass and returned it 52 yards for a 21-10 lead late in the second quarter. Dallas didn't score again.

``It's terribly frustrating,'' Lee said. ``We want to be a consistent team that that wins week in, week out. Until we win games like this we're not there yet and we have to keep working.''

San Diego's defense came up with a big stop in the final moments. Romo moved the Cowboys to the San Diego 7, where he hit Terrance Williams at the 1. Williams was stretching for the end zone when he was hit by Crezdon Butler and fumbled. San Diego's Richard Marshall recovered for a touchback.

A week earlier, Butler was burned on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jake Locker to Justin Hunter with 15 seconds to play to give Tennessee a 20-17 victory. Butler was in against the Cowboys because Derek Cox left with a knee injury.

It was only the second takeaway of the season for San Diego.

After forcing Dallas to punt, San Diego took a 23-21 lead on Novak's 23-yard field goal that capped a drive starting from the Chargers 11.

Romo threw touchdown passes of 5 and 34 yards to Dez Bryant in the second quarter, when Dallas scored 21 points.

Lee got his interception return for a TD when Rivers was hit by tackle Jason Hatcher as he released the ball.

Cowboys receiver Miles Austin missed the game because of a hamstring injury.

``I think you always miss Miles,'' Romo said. ``Miles is a great football player. If you don't have him it's always going to be tougher. But the thing is, that's part of the game. Miles knows that. The same thing when I got hurt. You have to be able to find ways to win.''


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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