Cowboys' pass rush needs to improve

IRVING, Texas -- The No. 1 job of the Monte Kiffin-led defense is to affect the quarterback.

The Dallas Cowboys did not do that in their 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers, sacking Philip Rivers just once and unable to put any consistent pressure on him.

The result was a 401-yard, three-touchdown day for Rivers.

Rivers was able to do most of his damage in a no-huddle offense with shorter throws to set up the deep shots. Simply, he did not allow the Cowboys the chance to generate much of a pass rush because he got rid of the ball so quickly.

“You’ve just got to get push in the pocket and you have to win quicker and you have to cover better earlier and not give them a place to throw the ball quite so quickly,” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you make him hold it on some of those routes, quarterbacks tend to get uncomfortable. They just did a great job. He got the ball out of his hands. They got guys open. They did it consistently through the game.”

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will notice and use some of that against the Cowboys this week at AT&T Stadium. Manning has been sacked only five times and only twice since losing left tackle Ryan Clady for the season.

Garrett did not have a kind review of his defensive line from the Chargers game.

“They did not play to their level and a lot of different reasons for that,” Garrett said. “We’re playing a lot of different combinations ... but there are no excuses. One of the things that they did is they possessed the ball a lot. They were in that no-huddle offense and [Rivers] was at the line of scrimmage and they’re playing at a pace that they’re controlling. Sometimes that’s hard on defensive linemen but that’s the nature of this league. That happens a lot and you just have to make sure that you’re ready for the challenge.”