Despite being down three offensive linemen, the Chargers were able to prevail over the Dallas Cowboys, 30-21, at Qualcomm Stadium Sunday.
Besides an interception (on a ball thrown as he was being hit), quarterback Philip Rivers had another masterful game, completing 35 of 42 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns.
"I certainly feel in sync," Rivers said. "I feel the rhythm. I feel comfortable in the pocket. I feel comfortable with the offense and the way we're operating."
The defense did its part, holding the Cowboys to zero points in the second half and coming up with pressure as well as a few big plays, including a forced fumble late in the game by cornerback Crezdon Butler.
"It's big," said Butler, who was only recently signed to the team. "We needed turnovers. We saw on film this week that they carried the ball a little loose, and if we put our head in there, we knew what could happen."
Added defensive lineman Kendall Reyes, who had a sack on quarterback Tony Romo: "We were just trying to get as close to Romo as possible and guys were able to make big plays."
Credit also goes to the offensive line, who rallied after three starters (LT King Dunlap, LG Chad Rinehart and RG Jeromey Clary) were inactive today due to injuries.
"We had a big task at hand and I'm proud of my guys," said backup tackle Mike Harris.
The Chargers scored early on a perfectly-placed pass from Philip Rivers to running back Danny Woodhead in the middle of the first quarter.
"It was a great pass," Woodhead said. "All I had to do was catch it. The line did a great job of protecting and it was definitely a good feeling."
Dallas answered back with a nine-play, 85-yard drive, capped off with a pass from quarterback Tony Romo to wide receiver Dez Bryant for the Cowboys' first touchdown of the game.
With 5:11 to go in the second quarter, the Chargers got in field goal range and brought the score to 10-7 off a 36-yard attempt by kicker Nick Novak.
A huge blow for the Chargers came at the end of the second quarter, when linebacker Dwight Freeney was injured on a tackle and taken to the locker room. The absence was later announced as a quad injury, and Freeney did not return to the game. (Cornerback Derek Cox also left the game with a knee injury.)
The Cowboys scored immediately afterward on another pass from Romo to Bryant, giving Dallas the lead in the game for the first time.
Rivers was intercepted on the next drive, picked off by Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, who returned the ball for a touchdown and extended Dallas' lead to 21-10.
Chargers kicker Nick Novak scored a 42-yard field goal in the final seconds before halftime.
"That was huge," Rivers said. "We just responded to that adversity. We've done that four straight weeks now. We finished the first half with a score and scored at the start of the second half. That's the formula for winning. Obviously, we've only done it 50-percent of the time, but that certainly gives you the chance to win when you do that."
In the third quarter, the Chargers attacked early, marching 65 yards in three minutes to score a touchdown on another pass from Rivers to Woodhead for his first career two-touchdown game.
After that drive, San Diego never lost control of the game.
The Cowboys, seemingly flat in the second half, couldn't stop the Chargers offense, who went on to win the game, 30-21, improving to 2-2 on the season.
"It goes back to believing in yourself, foremost," said tight end Antonio Gates, who had 10 receptions for 136 yards today. "Things come out and experts, critics and analysts make assumptions about what they think ... We definitely emphasized playing 60 minutes of the game."
This week, the Chargers finished the job.