It's Another Win For Red-Hot Chargers
November 30, 2017
The Dallas Cowboys are known as "America's team." They are one of the most popular professional sports franchises in the country. The Los Angeles Chargers, on the other hand, have been referred to as "Nobody's team." They have a marketing campaign known as "Fight for LA." They are trying to convince fans in Southern California that they are worthy of their support.
On Thanksgiving Day the Chargers may have gained the support of a few more fans and at the very least the respect of many fans by soundly defeating "America's Team" in Arlington 28-6. This was the 50th time the Cowboys had hosted the game on Thanksgiving Day. This was the Chargers first opportunity to play in this game. But they looked very comfortable in the friendly confines of AT&T Stadium.
The Chargers dominated throughout the game. The Chargers had 515 yards in offense to 247 yards for the Cowboys. The Chargers had 25 first downs to 14 for the Cowboys, controlling the clock for 36 minutes and five seconds of the sixty-minute game.
The Charger defense had two sacks and two interceptions, with one of the interceptions returned by rookie cornerback Desmond King for a touchdown. The Chargers' defense has nine interceptions over the past three games. They also have three defensive touchdowns over the past two games.
As King put it: "When the ball is in the air, we want to go get it. The ball is ours when it is in the air. When we get the ball in our hands we want to take it for a touchdown. We want to score. That is our motto, get the ball in our hands, go for the end zone."
Charger Quarterback Philip Rivers also played well with the ball in his hands, throwing for a season high 434 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Keenan Allen had another fantastic receiving performance, catching 11 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown. Tight End Hunter Henry hauled in five passes for 76 yards and one touchdown. Speedy wide receiver Tyrell Williams also caught a touchdown pass of 27 yards from Rivers.
The game was a joy for the 35-year-old Rivers. As Rivers stated after the game: "It was a lot of fun. Anytime as the quarterback, you want to play well and throw it to your guys. We did that a lot today. But I'm more excited about our team. The guys up front were awesome going against guys who were leading the league in sacks.
"They didn't get one. We didn't give up a sack. The guys were playing awesome, and (so were) the guys on the outside. They were getting separation. There were some contested throws and they caught a lot of them, and that's fun.... It was an all-around team win, and one we needed to keep us in the mix."
The Chargers have not been giving up many sacks this season. The Chargers lead the NFL in quarterback sack percentage and are tied for the NFL lead with only 12 sacks of Rivers allowed in 11 games. The Chargers' passing game is ranked #4 in the NFL in passing yardage per game, with 20 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions.
The offensive line has done a good job of pass protection and receivers are getting open, but Rivers is the guy that is making the passing game a success. His ability to get the offense into the right play and get the ball out of his hands quickly has led to the success of the Chargers passing attack this season.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, a former NFL quarterback, was very impressed by the performance of Rivers: "Philip Rivers was outstanding the whole game. You try different things when you play a guy like this. You try to man, you try to pressure him and try to do things different ways. I thought they did a good job protecting him. He always does a great job getting the ball out."
The victory improved the Chargers to 5-6 and within one game of the fading Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. The Chiefs lead the division at 6-5 but have lost five of their last six games after an NFL best 5-0 start. The Chargers are tied with the Raiders at 5-6, but own the tie-breaker due to their win at Oakland.
The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, having won five of their last seven games after an 0-4 start. They have crawled back into the division title race and they also trail the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills by one game in the race for the final wild card playoff berth.
The Chargers have improved on both offense and defense over the past seven games. The one exception for the team continues to be the special teams. In the game against the Cowboys the Chargers missed a 35-yard field goal and missed three extra points.
A back injury to Kicker Nick Novak helped to make the kicking game ineffective and forced Punter Drew Kaser to kick extra points, which did not go well. For the season, the Chargers are last in the NFL in field goal percentage at 63% and with the injury to Novak they may need to bring in another kicker.
The Chargers play at home for the next two weeks, with the Cleveland Browns up next at the Stub Hub Center in Carson. Game time is 1:05 pm on Sunday. The Browns are winless at 0-11. The Browns are also last in scoring in the NFL at 15.1 points per game.
Cleveland has lost 29 of its last 30 regular season games. The lone victory was a 20-17 win over the Chargers last season on Christmas Eve. That loss should be a reminder to the Chargers that they must be ready to take on a team that is very hungry and desperate for a win.