Final Score: Chargers 27, Cowboys 7
Sure, it’s only the preseason. But the San Diego Chargers have plenty of reasons today to feel good about themselves, while the Dallas Cowboys have a lot of issues to figure out.
San Diego’s offense — particularly the second-team unit led by quarterback Kellen Clemens — shreded the Dallas defense Thursday night en route to a 27-7 rout in the preseason opener for both teams.
Brandon Weeden, starting for Dallas in place of the ailing Tony Romo, looked fairly sharp and threw a touchdown pass to tight end James Hanna. But whatever positives Dallas could take from the performance of its first-team offense were overshaddowed by a pitiful showing by Big D’s defense.
Here’s how it went down:
Branden Oliver Lit Up the Dallas Defense
Branden Oliver, whose speed and versatility have Chargers fans comparing him to Darren Sproles, capped a 9-play, 80-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to put the Chargers on the board with 6:09 left in the first half.
Oliver had 4 carries for 36 yards on the drive, and fellow back Donald Brown had 3 for 22. He finished the first half with 64 yards on just 7 carries, opening plenty of eyes in the process.
San Diego took the lead on a Nick Novak field goal with just under 2 minutes left in the half after a long run by Oliver, who may have been denied a touchdown because of a horsecollar tackle.
Kerwynn Williams Scored a Touchdown, Then Made the Tackle on the Ensuing Kickoff
And USU's Kerwynn Williams with the tackle of the kickoff after scoring the TD! Nice back-to-back plays for the speedy little back
— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) August 8, 2014
Kerwynn Williams scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 7:30 left in the third quarter to make it 24-7, then earned some serious hustle points with the Bolts’ coaching staff when he made the tackle on the ensuing kickoff.
Nick Novak followed with a 44-yard field goal with 13:36 left in the fourth quarter to make it 27-7.
Kellen Clemens Hit Dontrelle Inman for a 70-Yard Touchdown
Dontrelle Inman as advertised. Having strong camp. Would almost shock at this point if he doesn't make team. 70-yard TD catch.
— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) August 8, 2014
— Kyle Kraska (@KyleKraska) August 8, 2014
The passing highlight of the night came when Clemens heaved a 70-yard bomb to Dontrelle Inman down the right sideline to stretch San Diego’s lead to 17-7 with 8:25 left in the third quarter.
Brandon Weeden Hit James Hanna for a Touchdown to Put Dallas on Top
BRANDON WEEDEN TOUCHDOWN! Spectacular 4-yd TD throw to TE James Hanna across his body on the run. 11 plays, 80 yards.
— FOX Sports NFL (@NFLonFOX) August 8, 2014
After an interception was waived off because of a holding call, Brandon Weeden completed Dallas’ first drive of the second quarter by hitting tight end James Hanna in the end zone. Dan Bailey’s extra point made it 7-0.
Ryan Matthews Fumbled at the Goal Line & the Cowboys Recovered
After Dallas was forced to punt on its first possession, Phillip Rivers picked apart the Cowboys’ defense on the Charters’ first drive, but Ryan Matthews fumbled while trying to get into the end zone and Dallas recovered for a touchback.
The first quarter ended scoreless, with Weeden and Co. driving to begin the second.
Pregame: Players & Fans Fired Up
— NFL (@nfl) August 8, 2014
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) August 8, 2014