EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06: Patrick Crayton #84 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the New York Giants on December 6, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Any hope for a winning December went out the window today for the Cowboys as they fell to the San Diego Chargers 20-17 in an all too familiar feeling December loss. Tony Romo was good again, but not enough, as poor play-calling and untimely mistakes thoroughly doomed the Cowboys.
Nick Folk nailed a 31-yard field goal to start the scoring in the first quarter. His effectiveness, as well as the Cowboys lead, was to be short lived. A Gerald Sensabaugh pass interference call on the ensuing drive set San Diego at the Dallas two-yard-line. LaDainian Tomlinson would punch it in a play later, giving the Chargers a 7-3 lead.
Nate Kaeding's 29-yard field goal would extend the lead to seven for the Chargers, and stand as the only scoring in the second quarter.
After an ugly first half, rife with untimely penalties and bad play-calling, Dallas was still, kind of inexplicably, in it; Romo hit Miles Austin to cap a 99-yard drive with a touchdown as the third quarter drew to a close. With the extra point, the game was knotted at ten.
On the ensuing drive, DeMarcus Ware went down with what was later called a 'strained neck;' however, the moment rang slightly more frightening than a 'strained neck' might imply.
Ware was carted off the field, his neck stabilized, after around ten minutes. He gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he exited, which slightly mitigated the tensity of the incident. At any rate, the emotion was visible as Dallas lined up once more on defense, Victor Butler in place of Ware.
Despite the emotion, or perhaps because of it, San Diego needed only two plays to complete the 75 yard drive, doing so with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates.
At 17-10, Dallas appeared poised to answer on offense. Tony Romo hit Jason Witten for 26 yards to on the first play of the drive. After that, the offense stalled. An unsuccessful rush (by Felix Jones, for no gain) and two incomplete passes led to a Mat McBriar punt.
With the ball and the lead, San Diego ran over the Dallas defense, draining the clock and reaching Dallas's 16-yard-line with around two minutes remaining. Kaeding hit the 34-yard field goal to put the lead at ten.
By the time Dallas capped an 86-yard drive with a Romo-to-Crayton touchdown pass, just two seconds remained. The onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, giving San Diego the ball with a solitary second left on the game clock. Philip Rivers, 21 for 32 with a touchdown and an interception on the day, knelt on the ball, giving the Chargers their sixteenth straight December victory.
Dallas slides to a pedestrian 8-5 on the season, their position in the standings to be decided by tonight's Eagles-Giants game.