The Dallas Cowboys inexplicably settled for a 56-yard field goal with time set to expire, but it didn’t matter. Greg Zuerlein drilled a kick that would have been good from much further if need be. The Los Angeles Chargers have to be kicking themselves for how many inexplicable mistakes they made in the 20-17 defeat.
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Dak Prescott had one bad overthrow that was intercepted, but he was pretty much pinpoint otherwise. He finished 23-of-27 for 237 yards, including a perfect 20-of-20 for 189 yards on throws within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. If there are any ill effects from his shoulder and ankle injuries, we couldn’t tell.
The Cowboys got seemingly whatever they wanted on the ground. Ezekiel Elliott went for 71 yards on 16 attempts with a score, while Tony Pollard cracked the century mark with 109 yards and a score on 13 attempts. The two combined to pick up eight first downs on the ground.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
CeeDee Lamb was once again the reliable No. 1 option the Cowboys thought he could be when they drafted him in the first round last year. After multiple costly drops last week, Lamb caught all eight of his targets for 81 yards. That’s all the more impressive considering Dallas took less than half as many dropbacks as it did last week.
The Cowboys have to be thrilled with what they saw from Terence Steele at right tackle as he filled in for the suspended La’el Collins. While he was far from perfect, allowing three pressures on 28 pass-blocking snaps after first review, the Cowboys will take that performance every time against the competition he faced. Steele was matched up with Joey Bosa for much of the day and more than held his own.
What a defensive line debut for Micah Parsons. He was giving right tackle Storm Norton fits all day long. The rookie finished the day with seven pressures, including one sack and one hit. He wasn’t using too many moves, but he still regularly got home.
With Parsons' snaps up for grabs in the Cowboys' linebacking corps, Jaylon Smith finished with 10 tackles, including three stops on 47 snaps, and didn’t miss a single tackle. That’s not a bad day at the office for the much-maligned backer.
It was a bit of a roller-coaster day for Trevon Diggs, which has become his M.O. at this point. He had a key interception in the first quarter as the Chargers were driving.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 19, 2021
He subsequently gave up three of his four other targets for 65 yards and added an unnecessary roughness penalty.
Justin Herbert flashed high-end plays but also came up unfortunately short in moments where it mattered most. He made arguably the throw of the day on a crucial third-down where he put it just over Trevon Diggs' outstretched hands.
Throw of the day from Justin Herbert
2-man hole shot 40 yards downfield pic.twitter.com/JftG2RHqRW
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) September 19, 2021
Herbert heaved a head-scratching interception directly into the hands of Cowboys safety Damontae Kazee at the end of the third quarter. He then got inexplicably charged with a big sack after a touchdown pass to Jared Cook was called back, and the Chargers never got the ball back.
Austin Ekeler fought through an ankle injury to still make an impact in this contest. He made one of the catches of the day with a one-hander up the left sideline in the second half. Ekeler also racked up 54 yards on nine carries with four broken tackles. as the Chargers eschewed the ground game for much of the day.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Mike Williams took over as the top option for the Chargers. He hauled in seven catches on 10 targets for 91 yards and a score. Not quite known for his after-the-catch ability, he shrugged off Anthony Brown en route to the end zone.
The EFFORT ????
— NFL on CBS ???? (@NFLonCBS) September 19, 2021
After a lights-out debut against Washington last week, Rashawn Slater showed he was human this week. He allowed four hurries on 45 pass-blocking snaps. That was far from the biggest issue for the Chargers up front, however. Storm Norton was a liability filling in for Bryan Bulaga. The right tackle allowed 10 pressures on the day — and most of them in swift fashion.
With Joey Bosa getting game-planned for a bit and removed from the equation, no one really stepped up in his stead. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery led the team with three pressures, but one of those came in clean-up fashion. The Chargers are going to need a second option to step up when they face good offensive lines like the Cowboys' unit.
Kenneth Murray had his fair share of struggles in coverage on the day. He allowed catches on all four of his targets for 33 yards, with two of those going for first downs. He also added a missed tackle for a tough day against the Cowboys' running backs.
Rookie Asante Samuel Jr. showed out. He notched a pick, a pass breakup in the end zone and another pass breakup on fourth down. They were all crucial plays that kept a reeling Chargers defense still in it.