ARLINGTON, Texas -- Linebacker Keith Brooking pinpointed the Dallas defense's biggest problem against the Chargers: The Cowboys couldn't stop San Diego on third-and-long.
Actually, the Cowboys kept the Chargers from moving the chains on four of seven third-and-long plays. But that's not nearly good enough, especially when the three conversions were big plays that led to points.
The three big plays were all essentially jump balls, pitting the Chargers' 6-5 receivers against the sub-6-0 Cowboys cornerbacks. Phillips Rivers hit Malcolm Floyd for a 24-yard gain on San Diego's first touchdown drive, Vincent Jackson for 33 yards en route to a field goal in the second quarter and Jackson again for 39 yards to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
"That just can't take place," Brooking said. "That's the pass rush; that's coverage. It goes hand in hand. We felt like the recipe for success in this game was being really good on first and second down and creating those third-and-longs. We got in those situations and didn't make the plays to get them off the field."