The San Diego Chargers do a lot of little things right. Sometimes, those little things amount to very big things. A few weeks ago, the Chargers headed into a big game vs. the Cowboys in Dallas. The game might well have been a prelude to the Super Bowl. The Cowboys have demonstrated this year that the December Jinx is over. After a surprising 24-0 shutout over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys are set up to break the 13-year hiatus between playoff wins. The Chargers won a close game by doing little things. Here’s a glimpse.
Dallas opened the game with a 41 yard kickoff return by Felix Jones. The Cowboys then began a long, powerful 10-play, 41-yard drive into the Charger red zone. The drive consumed more than 6 minutes at the start of the game. FOX showed LaDainian Tomlinson sitting on the sidelines as if he were collecting dust waiting to get into the game. The Cowboys were intent on spreading the Chargers out, but remaining balanced. On six of those first 10 plays, Dallas was in a shotgun formation. On three of those plays, they ran the ball with Marion Barber. The drive bogged down as Romo was unable to hit a receiver in the end zone. Dallas kicked a field goal and led 3-0.
For quite some time, the Dallas defense has been playing at a very high level. On the subsequent kickoff, Dallas kicked deep and was able to pin Darren Sproles back behind the 20 yard line. The drive began for San Diego on their own 16 yard line. On first down, Philip Rivers completed a short pass to his fullback. The play lost two yards. On the next down, LT was stopped for no gain by DeMarcus Ware. So, with 7 minutes gone in the first quarter, the Chargers were facing a 3rd and 12 deep in their own end. Moreover, they were facing the prospect of handing Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys a short field. Compounding all of this was the fact that the Charger defense had been on the field for all but 1:18.
3rd down, 12 yards to go from the 14 yard line.
Third and 12. Spread Formation vs. Nickel Coverage