Tale Of The Tape: Dallas Cowboys At San Diego Chargers
- QuarterbackPerhaps Tony Romo is tired of being a disappointment. Or perhaps he is setting himself up for a bigger disappointment later on in the year. But so far, Romo has been playing sharp football as if he is prepared to lead the Cowboys to a division title and more. Romo is coming off a razor-sharp effort against the Rams in which he threw for 210 yards and three TDs without an interception.The Chargers nearly came away with a road win at Tennessee, and Philip Rivers was a big reason they came so close. Rivers was unfailingly accurate as he completed 20-of-24 passes. Rivers was in control throughout the game and did not come close to throwing an interception, but there was little effort to throw the ball downfield and make big plays.
- OffenseThe Cowboys have a lot of options on offense, but a productive running game makes life much easier for Romo. DeMarco Murray certainly did his part in the Week Three rout of the Rams as he ran for 175 yards and a touchdown. Dez Bryant is one of the best big-play receivers and his increased maturity has made him a better player. Jason Witten simply won’t drop the ball when Romo throws the ball in his direction.The Chargers are playing conservative football because they don’t have the weapons to attack consistently with big plays. Ryan Matthews is a punishing back, but he is not a big-play threat. Danny Woodhead is not a star, but he knows how to get open and Rivers will find him. Antonio Gates has great hands, but he’s slowed down a bit.
- DefenseThe Cowboys have been solid defensively for several years, but they have given up big plays and committed penalties at inopportune times. That appears to be changing this year under the strong leadership of 73-year-old defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. DeMarcus Ware is one of the best pass rushers in the league and he had 2.0 sacks vs. St. Louis.The Chargers played outstanding defense throughout the majority of the game against the Titans, but they were unable to hold the line in the final drive. That’s troubling to head coach Mike McCoy and defensive coordinator John Pagano. The Chargers have some speed and quickness on defense and they are getting a good effort from Reggie Walker, who had eight tackles and 1.0 sack against Tennessee.
- Special TeamsThe Cowboys have been very aggressive in their kickoff and punt coverage this year. Dan Bailey missed 1-of-2 FG attempts last week but he has been quite dependable for the Cowboys. Chris Jones averaged 48.8 yards per punt against the Rams.The Chargers play hard and tackle well on special teams, but they are not as effective in coverage as the Cowboys. Eddie Royal is a legitimate threat as a return specialist. Nick Novak has been a dependable kicker, while Mike Scifres excels at dropping the ball inside the 20 on his punts.
The Cowboys appear to have all the key advantages and they are playing with early-season momentum. However, the Chargers come home and the Cowboys have already lost on the road to another AFC West opponent in Kansas City. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor