How ‘bout them Cowboys?
Cool, calm, collected, and victorious.
It wasn’t their best win, not even their most emphatic, but it was promising.
When Los Angeles’ Tristan Vizcaino squeezed his 29-yard field goal inside the right goalpost to level things up at 17-17, with a little under four minutes remaining, hearts were racing.
But not that of Dak Prescott, or the rest of his offensive unit, with the Cowboys methodically working their way up to field to progress 49 yards in 11 plays.
As nerve-racking as it was, Dallas – desperate to avoid a repeat of last week’s loss – soaked up as much time as it could.
The Cowboys finally scraped into field goal range with four seconds remaining, and kicker Greg Zuerlein seized the moment, his 56-yard field goal drifting left to simultaneously pierce the uprights and hearts of Chargers far and wide.
And while it was that offensive work that stole the show in the final minutes, the Cowboys defence proved the pillar of the victory – an unheard of feat in recent times.
Buoyed by penalties, the Chargers seven offensive possessions all came within the Dallas 33-yard line, yet just one yielded a touchdown.
The Cowboys had grit in spades.
DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory were ruled out through injury and COVID-19 protocols, and rookie Micah Parsons was gallant in their absence, holding his own in the unfamiliar defensive end position, and even laying a sack.
The match began on the same note it would finish: with Dallas leading.
The Cowboys opening drive culminated in a Tony Pollard touchdown, in what was their first opening drive touchdown in 21 games.
Pollard was potent throughout the night, spearheading the Cowboys running unit to finish with 109 yards from 13 rushes. His partner in crime Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t far behind, gaining 71 yards from 16 rushes.
Elliott would storm over for Dallas’ second touchdown, also in the opening quarter, which came off the back of four consecutive 10+ yard plays to hand the Cowboys a 14-3 lead.
The dominance with which Pollard and Elliott ran the ball paved the way for Dak Prescott to throw at his efficient best, finishing with 23 completions from 27 attempts and 237 passing yards.
That being said, it wasn’t all one-way traffic.
LA fought back in the second quarter, sparked by a lethal step and heroic Superman dive from wide receiver Mike Williams for what was their first – and only – touchdown. Tevaughn Campbell secured the two-point conversion, putting the Chargers within three points.
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The 14-11 score-line remained intact until the half, with a Vizcaino field goal evening the scoreboard at 14 apiece not long into the third.
Having already been denied one touchdown due to a holding ruling, LA was pressing hard late in the penultimate quarter, but Dallas’ Anthony Brown produced a clutch endzone interception to let his side off the hook.
They carried that momentum into the last term, and having survived a Prescott fumble, pushed ahead 17-14 through the boot of Zuerlein.
10 minutes remained, but the contest was far from over.
The Chargers again took the lead, only to be denied, this time because of an illegal shift.
They were made to settle for a field goal, tying the game briefly before Zuerlein's monster kick sealed victory for Dallas as full-time beckoned.
Both teams are now evenly poised on 1-1. LA will be looking to bounce back when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in week three, while the Cowboys will do battle with Philadelphia.