Head doach Bill Parcells rotated his three down linemen every possession. defensive end Greg Ellis and defensive tackle La'Roi Glover and Kenyon Coleman started. The next series brought rookie defensive ends Marcus Spears and Chris Canty and nose tackle Jason Ferguson to the field.
With the Chargers trying to rally for a comeback victory in the final minutes, their freshness paid off with consistent pressure.
"I wasn't winded at all in the fourth quarter," Glover said. "The guys had a lot of energy. Usually I am gassed at that part of the game. But I wasn't winded or tired."
Said Parcells: "I think it's a healthy thing to do that. I do think these young linemen do have some ability. They are going to improve as we go. Hopefully, we will continue to do what we are doing with them. I think it helped. It helped the vets too."
In San Diego, the Chargers are miffed at the loss, coming up with several excuses and several players taking the blame on themselves.
It's one thing to go down giving a team your best shot, but few would agree that's what the Chargers did in their final drive.
Already without suspended All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates, the team ignored All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson, as well.
Perched at the Dallas 7, and trailing by four points with 47 seconds to go, the Chargers threw four straight passes -- three incompletes and an interception.
No sticking the ball in Tomlinson's gut. No passes toward the only running back in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in the same season.
Why didn't the Chargers call his number?
As little as they used him, he was just as fresh as the Cowboys defensive line.
"I can't answer that question," Tomlinson said. "It's not for me to answer. I don't call the plays."
Coach Marty Schottenheimer said the Cowboys' defense didn't allow the offense to point the ball toward Tomlinson. He also said that the absence of Antonio Gates didn't cross his mind.
"That's my story and I'm sticking to it," Schottenheimer said.
But there's no doubt the loss is sticking to the Chargers' ribs as they start preparing for a visit to Denver.
"We let one slip away," defensive tackle Jamal Williams said. "We made the mistakes and we have to pay for it.
"Now we got a game that counts as one and a half. A divisional game and both teams are 0-1. Somebody is going to leave there 0-2."
The Chargers left many scratching their heads with their questionable play-calling on Sunday.