SAN DIEGO -- So much for those major mismatches.
On paper, it seemed that a Dallas Cowboys defense that had 13 sacks in the first three games would have a field day against a San Diego Chargers offensive line featuring three backups. That isn’t the way it played out on the field Sunday afternoon.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers picked the Cowboys apart while sitting in the pocket, completing 35 of 42 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Defensive end George Selvie recorded the Cowboys’ lone sack.
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who was coming off back-to-back two-sack performances, was a nonfactor. He didn’t even get credited for a quarterback pressure despite being matched up against backup left tackle Michael Harris, who allowed 10 sacks as a part-time starter last year.
Coach Jason Garrett said Ware strained his back in the second quarter, which is why he watched several defensive plays from the sideline, but Ware declined to use injuries as an excuse for his ineffectiveness.
“I just didn’t play the game I needed to play,” Ware said.
Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher was held without a sack for the first time this season despite both of San Diego’s starting guards being inactive due to injuries.
Pressure from Hatcher led to Sean Lee's pick six. That, however, was the only time all day that Hatcher made an impact play.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of getting to the quarterback,” Hatcher said. “They did a good job of keeping guys in, doubling me all night, chipping me all night.
It was a rough day for me, but I’ve got to find a way to do better in getting to the quarterback even if I have three or four people on me. I’ve got to find a way to do it. That’s what an under tackle does, so that’s what I’ve got to continue to do.”
The Cowboys credited Rivers for consistently getting rid of the ball quickly, not giving pass-rushers a chance to get to him.
However, Rivers had great success throwing the ball downfield, too. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Rivers completed 9 of 11 passes for 230 yards and all three of his touchdowns on throws that traveled at least 10 yards in the air.
“It really doesn’t matter what the rush is doing if he’s getting rid of the ball in two seconds,” Ware said. “But when he does hold the ball, we weren’t effective enough as a rush team getting pressure on him.”