San Diego Chargers: 2013 Week 4 DAL at SDG

SAN DIEGO -- Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are both in their early 30s -- greybeards by NFL standards -- but the San Diego Chargers’ top playmaking combo showed they can still get the job done.

Case in point: Rivers said on his 56-yard touchdown pass to Gates with 6:54 left that he knew pre-snap the athletic tight end had a chance to get deep on Dallas linebacker Sean Lee. But initially, Rivers thought the pass might be too long.

“When he accelerated, at first I thought I overthrew him,” Rivers said following the Chargers' 30-21 victory. “And then when I saw him kind of dig, I felt pretty good that he was going to get there.”

[+] EnlargeSan Diego's Antonio Gates
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsAntonio Gates heads for the end zone, completing a 56-yard connection from Philip Rivers.
Rivers, 31, completed 35 of 42 passes for 401 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. His 83.3 percent completion percentage was the highest in NFL history for a 400-yard passing game. In four games, Rivers has thrown for 1,199 yards and 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions, completing 74 percent of his passes.

His touchdown to Gates was the 200th of his career; Rivers became the 34th player in NFL history with 200 touchdown strikes.

“I certainly feel in sync,” Rivers said about his play in the month of September. “I feel the rhythm. I feel comfortable in the pocket. I feel comfortable with the offense, and the way we’re operating. You’ve got to keep going play-to-play, because that can change in one interception for a touchdown. Then can change in one play, so you’ve got to stick with it.”

Gates, 33, notched his 21st 100-yard receiving game. Gates totaled 10 catches for 136 yards, passing Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome (662 catches) for the fourth-most receptions by a tight end in NFL history.

Gates now leads the Chargers with 25 receptions for 364 yards and two touchdown catches.
Despite their age, both Gates and Rivers believe they can still play at a high level on a consistent basis.

“At the end of the day it’s about my preparation to help us win football games,” Gates said. “If I can do those things and give it 100 percent, I’ll feel good about it every single Sunday.”

Added Rivers about Gates: “When you get him matched up, I’m not sure if he’s ever covered. He’s still playing at a super-high level.”

Part of the reason for San Diego’s resurgence on offense has been the team’s reliance on an up-tempo offense, including at times no-huddle. The result was positive for the Chargers on Sunday, as they ran 70 plays, racking up 506 yards of total offense.

“When you go no-huddle, the quarterback gets a lot of credit,” Rivers said. “But it takes all 11 guys to go. The center, the linemen knowing what we’re getting to. And the receiver knowing where they are on the field -- it takes all of us. It by no means is just me out there running everything. Certainly I have a hand in it, but it’s 11 guys being on the same page.”

Added San Diego coach Mike McCoy: “It’s a great way to play the game. But it’s going back to how we think the best way is to play the game, week in and week out. We’ve said from Day 1 that we’re going to change from week-to-week. That’s the way we’re going to do it.”
SAN DIEGO -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers30-21 win against the Dallas Cowboys.

What it means: With several starters out, the short-handed Chargers rebounded from a tough loss on the road last week at Tennessee with an impressive win at home against the Cowboys. With the win, San Diego improved to 2-2 on the year.

Rivers clicks with Gates: San Diego’s longtime quarterback-to-tight end duo of Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates revved it up against the Cowboys. Rivers completed 35 of 42 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Rivers’ only blemish was an interception to Dallas linebacker Sean Lee returned for a 52-yard touchdown. It’s Rivers' fifth, 400-yard passing game of his career. Rivers’ favorite target was Gates, who finished with 10 catches for 136 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown for San Diego’s final score of the game.

Stock watch: Rookie receiver Keenan Allen had his best day as a pro, finishing with five receptions for 80 yards. With Malcom Floyd out for a second straight game due to a neck issue, Allen did a nice job of stepping in to fill the void.

Defense creates pressure: The Chargers came into Sunday’s contest with just six sacks in three games, but managed to sack Dallas quarterback Tony Romo three times. With two starting cornerbacks and pass-rush specialist Dwight Freeney (quad) unavailable in the second half, the Chargers held Romo to 245 total passing yards, and contained running back DeMarco Murray to just 70 yards on the ground.

Turnover drought ends: The Chargers managed to create a turnover late, with cornerback Crezdon Butler forcing Dallas rookie receiver Terrance Williams to fumble the ball as he reached for the goal line. Fellow cornerback Richard Marshall recovered the fumble in the end zone with 2:42 left in the game. The play resulted in San Diego’s second turnover this season.

What’s next: The Chargers go on the road for San Diego’s first AFC West contest of the year at Oakland on Sunday, tentatively scheduled for a 4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT kickoff.