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(Sunday, December 13th)
Final Score: San Diego 20, Dallas 17
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - Philip Rivers improved to a perfect 16-0 in December games with 272 passing yards and a touchdown, and the San Diego Chargers continued Dallas' December woes with a 20-17 win at Cowboys Stadium.
Rivers completed 21-of-32 passes and was intercepted once for the Chargers (10-3), who have won eight straight games to take a commanding two-game lead over the Broncos in the AFC West with three games to play. LaDainian Tomlinson added 50 yards and a score on 21 carries, giving him at least 10 touchdowns in all nine of his NFL seasons, a league record.
Vincent Jackson contributed with seven catches for 120 yards, while Antonio Gates had a receiving touchdown. Nate Kaeding extended his streak of made sub-40-yard field goals to 65 with two on Sunday.
The 16-game December win streak by the Chargers is the longest in league history. Their last December loss came in Drew Brees' final game as the San Diego starter in 2005.
Tony Romo fell to 5-10 in December for his career after throwing for 249 yards and two scores on 19-of-30 efficiency for the Cowboys (8-5), who lost for the fifth time in their last six December games. Felix Jones led the rushing attack with 51 yards on 10 carries, while Marion Barber had 47 yards on the ground on 14 carries.
Miles Austin had a touchdown reception, and Roy Williams had four catches for 74 yards in defeat. The Cowboys are now a game behind the Eagles for first place in the NFC East. Philadelphia beat the New York Giants, 45-38, later Sunday.
The Cowboys also lost DeMarcus Ware, who sprained his neck in the fourth quarter. Ware slammed his helmet into a Chargers offensive lineman on a pass rush and was put onto a stretcher and carted off the field. He was taken to a local hospital for X-rays and further evaluation, but his future status is unknown.
With the score 10-3 in favor of San Diego in the third, Mike Scifres pinned the Cowboys down at their own one-yard line on a punt, but Romo led the team all the way down the field for the game-tying touchdown.
With a little over seven minutes left in the third, the Cowboys never faced a third down. Barber ran for 10 yards on the first play to get them away from the end zone, and a 21-yard completion to Austin brought Dallas to the San Diego 44.
Two plays later, Romo hit a wide open Williams for a 25-yard gain to the eight, and Barber took it to the one on the following play. After a false start, Romo found Austin all alone in the end zone for a six-yard touchdown and a 10-10 game as the quarter ended.
The Chargers, though, responded by going back in front on the ensuing possession. Facing a 3rd-and-12 from his own 47, Rivers found Jackson down the right sideline for a 39-yard gain and a first down. On the next play, Rivers hit Gates near the left pylon for a 14-yard touchdown and a 17-10 lead with 10:56 to play.
Dallas followed with a meager three-and-out on its next series, and San Diego took over at its own 11 with a little over nine minutes remaining. The Chargers proceeded to drain 7:13 off the clock and add a Kaeding 34-yard field goal on a 15-play series, making it 20-10 with just 1:56 to play.
"Those are the kind of drives that you need late in the year," Rivers said. "Those are playoff-winning drives. Defense holds them, up seven, you drive and get a field goal with two minutes left. That's how you win games on the road, and it took all of us to get that done."
The Cowboys went down the field quickly on their next drive, as Romo threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton to complete a nine-play, 86-yard drive; however, the score came with only two seconds left, and Gates recovered the onside kick to seal the win for San Diego.
Dallas drove right down the field on the game's opening drive but had to settle for Nick Folk's 31-yard field goal. This marked the 17th straight opening drive where the Cowboys have failed to find the end zone, the longest active streak in the NFL.
The Chargers responded by doing what Dallas couldn't, driving 84 yards in seven plays for a touchdown. Tomlinson capped the series with a one-yard score, which gives him 136 this decade -- tying him for most ever in a decade with Cowboys great Emmitt Smith, who accomplished the feat from 1990-99.
After Dallas went three-and-out on its next drive, the Chargers extended their lead to 10-3 early in the second quarter on Kaeding's 29-yard field goal.
The Cowboys then appeared as though they were going to tie the game, gaining a 1st-and-goal from the four after the three-headed attack of Jones, Barber and Tashard Choice gained all 69 yards of the series on the ground up to that point.
San Diego, though, held Barber to a three-yard rush on first down, then stopped him three straight times for no gain to regain possession without allowing any points.
"I like the call; probably most of (the fans) did, too, being inside the one," Romo said. "Especially with the guys we have up front and the (running) backs. For whatever reason, we didn't get it done. No excuses, the team didn't get it done today."
On the ensuing possession, Rivers threw his first interception since Week 9, giving Dallas good field position, but Folk pushed a 42-yard field goal attempt to the left to keep it a seven-point game, which was the margin at halftime.
"You could feel the playoff type game that it was, what it meant for both teams," Rivers said. "(I) can't say enough about our defense and special teams, they were unreal. The goal-line stand, I throw the silly interception, and then the stop and the missed field goal -- that was two huge stops."
Rivers' touchdown pass to Gates was the 100th of his career...San Diego improved to 6-1 on the road this season...The Cowboys went just 1-for-8 on third down conversions, while the Chargers went 5-for-12...Gates finished with 44 yards, giving him 1,038 on the season...Romo was put on holding duty for field goals for the first time since mishandling the ball in a 2007 playoff game against Seattle. He was the holder when Folk missed the 42-yard attempt in the second quarter.
12/14 00:45:59 ET