Dallas Cowboys free safety Barry Church, right, tackles San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
10. Considering one lost his job and the other’s defense surrendered 506 yards, who had the worse weekend: Monte Kiffin or Lane Kiffin?
9. First time the Cowboys have lost in San Diego in 30 years. Last time (Nov. 13, 1983) quarterback Ed Luther burned them for 340 passing yards. Today it was Phillip Rivers for 401.
8. I know Tony Romo loves Jason Witten. They have combined for more quarterback-tight end completions than any combo in NFL history. But Romo was forcing balls to No. 82 all day, and most of all day Chargers’ safety Eric Weddle was in Witten’s hip pocket.
7. After Sean Lee’s interception return for a touchdown off a Jason Hatcher pass rush, the Cowboys led 21-10. The Chargers’ next four drives ended in points after traveling 66, 80, 84 and 80 yards. In going from up 11 to down nine, the Cowboys’ were out-gained 310-59.
6. Blueperstition? Cowboys lost in their only appearance of the season in blue jerseys. They’re 1-2 in the road blues since 2010.
5. Dez Bryant is a monster. I predicted before the season that he’d break Cowboys’ single-season records for catches, yards and touchdowns. He had six catches today, two for spectacular touchdowns. But it was his one drop that keeps him from being among the elite of the elite NFL receivers. Nursing a 21-20 lead in the third quarter but with the Chargers seizing momentum, the Cowboys faced a 3rd-and-11 at midfield. Romo threw a strike to Bryant at San Diego’s 35. Easy catch? Nope. Catchable catch? Yessir. Dez had both feet on the ground and both hands on the ball. Should’ve been a first down. Instead it was a Cowboys’ punt, leading to another Chargers’ scoring drive and a relinquishing of the lead. Witten dropped a pass. Dwayne Harris dropped a pass. To be anything other than an average 9-7 team, the Cowboys need their few above-average players to make above-average plays. A lot of average receivers don’t make that catch. Dez was good Sunday. He needs to be better.
4. Cowboys were flatly out-played the final 31 minutes. But field-position mismanagement by Jason Garrett didn’t help. The game was tied 7-7 midway through the second quarter when Dallas faced 4th-and-6 at San Diego’s 38. Dan Bailey has been fantastic, but the kicker’s longest NFL field goal is 54 yards. Why send him out for a 56-yarder? Bailey’s kick was long enough, but wide left. The risk-reward was out of whack. After the miss the Chargers took over at their own 46 and with just two first downs moved into field-goal position and a 10-7 lead. As I’ve said before, the Cowboys aren’t good enough to overcome self-inflicted mistakes, and asking Bailey to do something he’s never done before was an unforced error by the head coach.
3. Playing without four of their top five offensive lineman – three starters were injured and inactive – the Chargers protected Rivers well enough to pave the way for 401 passing yards and three touchdowns. Cringe at this thought: Peyton Manning comes to town next week.
2. Terrance Williams may be oozing talent. But the kid from Baylor is having a forgettable rookie 1/4th of a season. His wrong route is the reason for Romo’s lone interception this season and today – with his team trailing by nine and less than three minutes remaining – he inexplicably and carelessly held the ball with one hand and fumbled at San Diego’s 1-yard line. A score there puts Dallas within two points with three timeouts and the two-minute warning on their side. Obviously ball protection – as Garrett likes to say – is “line one” in that situation. Maybe the Cowboys wouldn’t have rallied to win. Because of a rookie mistake they never got the chance.
1. In Kiffin’s defense the linebackers are asked to drop into pass coverage. We all consider Bruce Carter and Sean Lee to be superior athletes with excellent cover skills. For one day we were all horribly wrong, as they were torched for three touchdowns. Danny Woodhead absolutely embarrassed Carter. Twice.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.