Drew Bledsoe and the defense were the big questions for the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2005 season.
Both came up with strong answers Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
Bledsoe threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns and fellow
newcomer Aaron Glenn intercepted a pass in the end zone with 30
seconds remaining to preserve the Cowboys' first season-opening
victory in six years, a 28-24 triumph over the San Diego
Glenn said of the game-clinching play, "When it got tipped in the air I knew it was going to be either me or him that was going to get it."
Reunited with coach Bill Parcells after being waived by Buffalo
in the offseason, Bledsoe was sharp when provided time by the
offensive line. Despite being sacked four times, he completed 18-of-24 passes and also became the 10th player in
league history to reach 40,000 yards.
"I'm happy to be where I am, regardless of how I got here, and
I'm proud to be a part of this team," Bledsoe said. "(The
milestone) is something that, when I'm old and sitting around on
the porch, I can tell my grandkids about how many yards I threw
for. Right now, what feels great about this win is that we won
and we won in dramatic fashion."
Bledsoe connected with Keyshawn Johnson on a two-yard scoring
pass with 3:06 left in the fourth quarter to give the Cowboys a
28-24 lead. Johnson earlier caught a 13-yard TD in the second
"This game was very, very important for us, not only to win it but to win it the way that we did," Bledsoe added. "That third-down completion to Keyshawn for the touchdown ... I live for this stuff."
Dallas' winning drive started at the San Diego 44 after an
18-yard punt by Mike Scifres and was kept alive by a third-down
holding penalty against cornerback Quentin Jammer.
Drew Brees, who threw for 209 yards and two scores, led the
Chargers to the Dallas 7 after completing a 4th-and-14 pass to
Eric Parker. However, all four of his pass attempts from inside
the 10 were thwarted by the Dallas defense, the last coming
when Glenn picked off a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
"When you make play like that, you hope that's something that
you can build on for the rest of the year," said Glenn, who was
signed by Dallas after being released by Houston. "That's big
for the defense, because we know we're going to play in a lot of
games that come down to the last second, and today we were
fortunate enough to make one."
"Bottom line is, we had a chance to win at the end of the game,
we had four shots from the (seven) yard line, and we didn't
capitalize," Brees said. "I'll take that on myself because we
threw it every time. I've got to come through."
A third-quarter touchdown drive by Dallas was helped by a
Chargers' penalty. On third down, Bledsoe was sacked at the
Dallas 10 by linebacker Shaun Phillips. However, rookie
defensive end Luis Castillo was called for roughing the passer,
awarding the Cowboys a first down.
"The margin of winning or losing against any team in this league
is very narrow, and we have to eliminate self-inflicted
wounds," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We had them
stopped and all of a sudden the flag is there. Those penalties
"The penalties kept those drives alive," Jammer said. "Those
are mental mistakes that we've got to stay away from. Over the
course of the game, those things are going to happen."
Schottenheimer downplayed the absence of Chargers Pro Bowl tight
end Antonio Gates, who missed the game due to a contract
dispute that put him on the roster exempt list. Gates caught an
NFL record 13 TD passes by a tight end last year, many of them
in the red zone.
But Chargers Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson's thought
Gates' absence was a major factor.
"I really don't think that was a fair representation of what we
can do," Tomlinson said. "We didn't have Antonio Gates, who is
a great part of this offense, so Dallas played us however they
wanted to. When you don't have the All-Pro tight end like
Antonio, who is going to control the middle of the field, it's a
Tomlinson was limited to 72 yards on 19 carries, but scored on a
two-yard run in the first quarter to tie an NFL record with 13
consecutive games with a rushing touchdown held by John Riggins
and George Rogers.
Keenan McCardell had nine catches for 123 yards and two TDs for
San Diego. McCardell reached the 100-yard mark for the first
time since December 20, 2003 when he played for Tampa Bay. He
also tied his receivers coach, James Lofton, for 14th place on
the all-time list with 764 catches.
"The only goal is to win," McCardell said. "That's how it is.
Too bad it was our home opener because it just didn't happen. We
have to give a lot of credit to the Cowboys because they played
Cowboys Rally Past San Diego
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