The San Diego Chargers usually are the ones who allow second half leads to slip away. Instead, the same team that already blew two second-half leads in three games to start the season was the one who reeled off 20-unanswered points and outscored the Dallas Cowboys 17-0 in the second half to climb back to .500.
Credit can go to the offense, the defense and the coaching staff for finally figuring out how to close out a game.
Unlike last week, San Diego’s offense remained aggressive in the fourth quarter, even with a banged-up offensive line. With a good balance of Ryan Mathews runs and passes from Philip Rivers, the Chargers continued with what worked throughout the game and didn’t simply try to run out the clock with a slim lead. Knowing that Dallas had the playmakers to get right back into the game on any play, the Chargers remained focused on not only taking time off the clock but getting the ball into the endzone. They did so with a clutch touchdown pass from Rivers to Antonio Gates with less than seven minutes to play to make it a two-score game.
A good way to affect your opponent’s field position is by scoring on offense. Since San Diego scored on their first three positions of the second half, Dallas’ drives all started around their own 20-yard line after a San Diego kickoff. Though Dallas was able to move the ball in the second half, two of their drives stalled around midfield and one resulted in a time-consuming drive that resulted in the fumble.
This fumble was the first takeaway the Chargers defense forced since opening their season with an interception on their first play from scrimmage. Nursing a nine-point lead, it appeared as if the defense was going to allow another clutch offensive drive, this time to Tony Romo and company. However, with less than three minutes to go, Crezdon Butler, who was burned last week for the Tennessee Titans’ game-winning touchdown, forced a fumble on rookie Terrance Williams inside the Chargers’ 2-yard line, which was recovered by San Diego.
Granted, history tells us Dallas isn’t exactly the most clutch second half team either, but it’s nice to see San Diego develop a killer instinct and finish a game the right way. Hopefully, the Bolts can continue this for the remainder of the season.