In their first game of the 2013 pre-season, the Chargers got smashed by the Seahawks 31-10. While both teams had their starters in the game, it was a fairly even match.
However, when the second and third teams hit the field, Seattle's depth was laughably better than San Diego's depth.
On Thursday night at Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers did to the Cowboys what they had done to them a year ago by the Seahawks.
The Bolts depth was markedly better than the Cowboys, leading to a 27-7 Chargers win. San Diego's first-team offense played just one series, and it was stellar up until the last play.
Quarterback Philip Rivers completed all four of his passes for 61 yards, including a 20-yard strike to tight end Ladarius Green on 3rd and 5. The Bolts moved the ball to the 1-yard line, when running back Ryan Mathews tried to leap in to the end zone but fumbled before he reached the goal line.
The Cowboys recovered in the end zone and scored against mostly the Chargers' second defensive unit. After that, it was all Chargers.
Undrafted rookie running back Branden Oliver had several head-turning runs. He finished with 64 yards on seven carries and a hard-fought, 16-yard touchdown run. Every year an unknown player becomes a fan favorite, and Oliver is the clubhouse leader in that category for 2014.
New quarterback Kellen Clemens did his part to make people forget about long time backup Charlie Whitehurst. Clemens completed all five of his passes, including a 70-yard score to former CFL star Dontrelle Inman.
Inman caught three balls for 107 yards, taking the inside track on the 5th wide receiver roster spot.
The Chargers defense was solid, as well. In the second half, the Bolts only allowed 95 total yards of offense. Thomas Keiser sacked Dallas quarterback Caleb Hanie, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Damik Scafe.
That turnover set up a Kerwynn Williams 1-yard touchdown run to make it 24-7 Chargers.
It's just an exhibition game, but winning big is still better than losing big. The Bolts showed a quality roster that's light years ahead of where it was at this time last year.
If they improve as much during 2014 and they did in 2013, they will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
(I know, I know, just let us all be unnecessarily excited for a week)