The Dallas Cowboys’ formidable defense propels them to a Monday Night Football victory against the Los Angeles Chargers.
In a game riddled with mistakes and a flurry of penalty flags, the Dallas Cowboys defense made a crucial stand in the final two minutes to secure a hard-fought 20-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on “Monday Night Football.”
Playing with a fractured middle finger on his non-throwing hand, quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers fell to a 2-3 record for the season, while the Cowboys advanced to 4-2.
Following a challenging outing against the San Francisco 49ers in the previous week, the Cowboys were in dire need of a win, no matter how it came about.
Although Monday’s victory was far from flawless, it allows the Cowboys to head into their bye week with a 4-2 record. They remain within striking distance of the Philadelphia Eagles and the 49ers, who both unexpectedly suffered losses on Sunday.
Last week’s concerns, such as Mike McCarthy’s playcalling, Dak Prescott’s performance, and the defense’s resilience, came under scrutiny. While the game saw its share of penalties and allowed big plays, the Cowboys managed to make the essential plays when it counted most.
This included three pivotal third-down conversions on the game-winning drive, which concluded with a Brandon Aubrey field goal. The defense stepped up with Micah Parsons securing the first sack of the game for the Cowboys. Stephon Gilmore then capped it off with a sealing interception.
The Cowboys have displayed resilience after losses over the last two seasons, boasting a 10-1 record in such scenarios.
Prescott’s performance, beyond his passing statistics, drew attention. He showcased his running ability with an 18-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, marking the longest of his career and the longest by a Cowboys quarterback since 2010. Prescott’s use of his feet has decreased in recent years, but he remains effective when called upon to run.
Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb showed promise with 84 receiving yards in the first half, surpassing his performance in four of the first five games. His body language, a point of discussion during the week following a lackluster showing against San Francisco, seemed improved.
A silver lining emerged in the Cowboys’ defense as they played their first game without linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Markquese Bell, who transitioned from safety to linebacker during training camp, made notable contributions with a tackle for loss and a pass breakup, bolstering the run defense.
The Chargers, known for their high-scoring games, found themselves in yet another contest decided in the final moments. All their games this season have been determined by a margin of 7 points or less.
An eye-catching NextGen stat revealed that Herbert faced pressure on 42% of his dropbacks, the highest pressure rate in any game this season, which disrupted the Chargers’ passing rhythm.
The pivotal play of the game arrived when the Chargers’ pass rush forced Herbert into an errant pass in the fourth quarter, ultimately intercepted by Stephon Gilmore, sealing the victory for the Cowboys.
The Chargers continue to struggle with their running game, managing just 35 total yards by their running backs, despite Austin Ekeler’s return from injury. Their difficulty in establishing a strong ground attack remains a concerning trend, as they’ve surpassed 100 rushing yards only once this season and totaled just 91 yards in Weeks 2 and 3.