Insider's Take: Bolts-Cowboys

The Chargers are learning how to finish -- on Sunday, they did so emphatically. San Diego scored the game's final 20 points in a 30-20 win over the visiting Cowboys. We analyze Mike McCoy's first home victory by looking at what worked, what didn't and what's next.

What Worked

--This is more than a comeback -- it is a reinvention. Philip Rivers is dominating the competition. He threw for 401 yards and three scores against the Cowboys. He completed 83.3 percent of his passes, making it the most accurate 400-yard game in NFL history. He now has two 400-yard games this season after having just three such games in his first nine years in the league. Rivers has thrown 11 touchdowns against just two interceptions in the Mike McCoy era.

--A big day for Rivers meant a big day for his pass catchers. Danny Woodhead caught two touchdown passes in a game for the first time in his six-year career. Keenan Allen had his best game with five catches for 80 yards. Vincent Brown's seven-catch performance was a career best. Antonio Gates was the beneficiary of Rivers' 200th career touchdown pass -- a "double cheeker" good for 56 yards.

--What makes Rivers' outing so impressive is it came behind a makeshift O-line. King Dunlap (concussion), Chad Rinehart (toe) and Jeromey Clary (clavicle) were replaced by Mike Harris, Johnnie Troutman and Rich Ohrnberger, respectively. Ohrnberger, who was playing through a groin injury, left in the second quarter and was replaced by Steve Schilling, who was only re-signed earlier this week. The result? Rivers attempted 42 passes and was sacked just once; Dallas came into the game leading the league with 13 sacks.

--John Pagano and the defense deserve plenty of credit, too. The Chargers allowed the Cowboys to convert just three of nine third-down tries and kept Dallas off the scoreboard in the second half. The defense had three sacks -- including one each by Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes, who we called out earlier this week -- and forced just its second takeaway of the season.

What Didn't Work

--Ryan Mathews carried 19 times for 62 yards. That's an average of just 3.3 yards per carry, and his long carry was only 7 yards. The new coaching staff is giving him every opportunity to be a major contributor but it is up to him to do more with his touches. Speaking of running backs and downers, the fact that the Chargers had to release Fozzy Whittaker in advance of Sunday's game was tough to swallow.

--San Diego's secondary is a mess. Already playing without Shareece Wright (hamstring), the team lost Derek Cox to a knee injury. That left the defense to rely on Richard Marshall and Crezdon Butler, neither of whom was with the team during training camp. The next time the Chargers get an interception from someone in the back seven will be the first time all season. And life for the pass defense did not get any easier when Dwight Freeney left in the second quarter with a quad injury.

What's Next?

The Chargers play their first divisional game of the season as they head up north to face the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are 1-3 after falling at home to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, 24-14. Matt Flynn started against the Skins, but there is no telling if it will be Flynn or Terrelle Pryor in Week 5. The quarterback situation is not the only uncertainty -- the kickoff time may change depending on the playoff schedule of the Oakland A's. Kickoff is currently scheduled for 1:25 pm (PT).

What's your take on the Bolts through four games? Discuss in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

BoltsReport Top Stories