SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 21: Wide receiver Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys catches a touchdown pass against corner back Quentin Jammer #23 of the San Diego Chargers during their preseason NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium on August 21, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
It wasn’t the prettiest game for the Dallas Cowboys, but on Saturday night, they did enough to defeat the Chargers 16-14 in San Diego and, perhaps more importantly, made it through with minimal injury.
Safety Gerald Sensabaugh, Mike Jenkins and Keith Brooking each left the game with some sort of ailment, but none of their injuries are thought to be serious. Oh, and by some miracle, Tony Romo is safe and sound. You may now exhale, Dallas.
San Diego got the scoring started near the end of the first quarter with a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Philip Rivers to give the Chargers’ an early 7-0 lead. The 11-play, 40-yard drive began in Dallas territory when Tony Romo was intercepted by Eric Weddle, ending a Dallas drive that began when Terence Newman picked off Rivers.
The Chargers first team offense had no problem moving the ball against Dallas’s defensive starters on Saturday night, but were unable to cash in on all but one of these chances.
The Bolts were approaching the Dallas red zone once more when the Cowboys’ defense forced their second turnover on the night, as Bradie James jarred the ball from the grasp of running back Darren Sproles. Rookie safety Barry Church, who had replaced Sensabaugh at this point, scooped it up and took it to the San Diego eight-yard-line.
For a moment--or two plays, more accurately--it appeared as though Dallas’s touchdown drought would continue. But on third and goal, Romo found Miles Austin in the end zone to tie things up at seven.
Romo would finish 4-11 for 30 yards, a touchdown and an interception. But, you know, he’s still healthy. So that’s good.
The game remained knotted at sevens until midway through the third quarter. On the team’s second drive of the half, Billy Volek found Seyi Ajirotutu for 56 yards on a first-and-ten, setting San Diego up at the Dallas four. A play later, running back Marcus Mason punched it in for the score to regain a seven-point lead, 14-7.
On a fairly ugly night for the Dallas offense, the unit’s best drive probably came on their first of the fourth quarter, led by second-string quarterback Jon Kitna. Tight end Martellus Bennett made three of his blank receptions on this drive, including a 19-yard touchdown grab to tie the game at 14.
On the ensuing drive, leading candidate for the fourth cornerback spot, Cletis Gordon, snagged a highlight reel interception to give the offense, and new quarterback, third-stringer Stephen McGee, the ball (after the assessment of a block-in-the back) at their own 33.
Dallas failed to score again, however, until linebacker Victor Butler had a strip-sack of third-string quarterback Jonathan Crompton. The ball was recovered in the end zone by tackle Ryan Otterson, who was touched down for a safety. And on a night when the offense struggled mightily on all levels, a safety would be enough for Dallas. They won 16-14 to move to 2-1 for the preseason.
Dallas will take on the Texans in Houston a week from tonight.
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