Key failures in all three phases of the game contributed to the Cowboys' latest December loss.
The Cowboys' offense, which was a miserable 1-for-8 on third-down conversions, was unable to punch in a second-quarter touchdown with four tries from inside the San Diego 3-yard line. Marion Barber has very little big-play potential. He's on the roster because he's a battering ram. He won't break off any long runs, but he's an ideal short-yardage beast. Right? Not so much. Amazingly, he was somehow held out of the endzone on four consecutive carries from inside the three. He's clearly not the back he used to be, but his offensive line did him no favors either.
So much for Tony Romo solving all of the "kicking process" woes as the new holder. When Terence Newman intercepted Phillip Rivers late in the second quarter and gave the Cowboys starting field position on the Chargers 27-yard line, the offense promptly went three and out. Nick Folk quickly anted up with the special teams portion of the team-wide letdown by missing a 42-yard field goal wide left.
When the Cowboys' defense had the chance to step up and make a difference, trailing by seven with just more than nine minutes to play, it wasn't up to the challenge any more than the offense and special teams were earlier in the game. Instead of giving its team an opportunity in the fourth quarter by getting the ball back to Romo and company quickly, the Cowboys defensive unit flat out failed. The Chargers, who were pinned back near their own 10-yard line to start the posession, proceeded to pummel the Cowboys defense with a perfectly-executed, seven-plus minute marathon drive that resulted in a game-clinching field goal by Nate Kaeding.
The whole team can share in the blame on this one.