The Los Angeles Chargers hosted the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on Sunday. The game was close through all four quarters, with the Cowboys only holding a two-possession lead once in the first quarter. In the end, thanks to a late Greg Zuerlein field goal, the Cowboys came out on top, 20-17. What was expected to be a high-scoring game ended with a nearly identical score to the Chargers in Week 1. This time, however, the Chargers were on the losing end. These are the Chargers’ takeaways from NFL Week 2.
The Cowboys opened the game receiving the ball, and then promptly drove down the field and scored a touchdown. The Cowboys rushing game looked lethal, carving up large chunks of yardage every run. It seemed like the Chargers had no answer to Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard’s 109 yards on 13 carries more than doubled Austin Ekeler‘s 54 yards on 9 carries.
The Chargers, on the other hand, were torching the Cowboys secondary. Justin Herbert and Co. were driving down the field with ease. Though Herbert threw two interceptions, he still managed to throw for 31 completions on 41 attempts for 338 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers’ receivers played exceptionally well, creating separation on sharp route running and catching any pass that hit their hands. Compared to last week, the receivers looked like completely different players.
One thing to note is that it appears that Mike Williams is filling a much larger role in Joe Lombardi’s offensive scheme compared to former offensive coordinator Shane Steichen’s. It will be interesting to see his innate talents finally being put to proper use.
Unfortunately, it cannot go unmentioned how absurdly terrible the officiating was in this game. While the Chargers were not exactly doing well to avoid penalties, there were numerous calls that were simply baffling. One example is the late-game illegal shift penalty call on Williams, where he simply adjusted his feet. That sort of call is almost never made, and yet it was. Another baffling call was a sack call, where Herbert wasn’t even down, yet the referees called a sack after he threw the ball away. It’s clear that the officiating was terrible when Tony Romo, a former face of the Dallas Cowboys, cannot even understand the calls being made against the Chargers.
What Went Well
- The Chargers’ passing game.
The Chargers were putting on an air raid against the Cowboys defense. Though Herbert threw two interceptions, that didn’t stop him and his receivers (and Austin Ekeler) from slicing up the Cowboys secondary down the field. Though the team struggled to finish in the red zone, getting to the red zone was no issue at all.
- Austin Ekeler. Ekeler deserves his own special mention here. He was the Chargers’ do-it-all weapon against the Cowboys’ defense. Along with rushing for 54 yards on nine carries (6.0 yards per carry), he also was a heavy contributor in the Chargers’ passing game. In the passing game, he added on 61 yards on nine catches. Ekeler’s fantasy football managers can rejoice, especially in PPR (point-per-reception) leagues, as those statlines come out to a total of 20.5 fantasy points.
What Did Not
- Basically everything else.
The Chargers’ defense (pass and rush), special teams, and run game looked mediocre to abysmal. The Chargers’ run game looked absolutely lost, and it appeared as if the defense completely forgot how to tackle. The amount of arm tackling they were doing on that field was embarrassing, to say the least. The special teams, particularly Tristan Vizcaino, were not terrible, but Vizcaino missed a crucial 44-yard field goal that would have tied the game at 14 right before the half. The Chargers’ pass defense held Dak Prescott to 237 yards on 23 completions, but that was out of 27 attempts. Though the defense did manage an interception, courtesy of rookie cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., Prescott was still able to torch the defense in his limited attempts. Prescott did play a much smaller role than anticipated in the game, but that was merely because the Cowboys’ rush offense was so potent.
- The PENALTIES. The Chargers were like magnets to the flies known as referees on Sunday. As mentioned before, there were a number of blatantly mishandled calls against the Chargers. However, the Chargers were not exactly playing the cleanest of football, either. Every time the Chargers made a major yardage gain or even a touchdown, odds were that there would be some penalty called against the offensive line. Through the game, the Chargers committed 12 penalties for a total of 99 YARDS. It was some of the sloppiest football in recent memory. Head coach Brandon Staley is going to need to be extremely tough in practice this week to ensure the team is never put in that situation again.
The Chargers’ performance against the Cowboys was nothing short of excruciating to watch as a Chargers fan. Every single play, the Cowboys’ offense threatened to humiliate the Chargers’ defense. The Chargers’ offense also threatened to humiliate the Cowboys’ defense, but there would be some penalty that invalidates the play. This game was frustrating in many regards, but complaining about the officiating will not change the team’s glaring issues. Those issues need to be rectified immediately, or the Chargers stand absolutely no chance against the Kansas City Chiefs next week. These are the Chargers’ takeaways from NFL Week 2.