Philip Rivers carves up Cowboys for Chargers in win


The Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) headed to Dallas for Thanksgiving and celebrated the holiday with a 25-point second half to whitewash the Cowboys (5-6) 28-6. Here is what we learned from Thursday's blowout:

1. Philip Rivers dive-bombed a crumbling Cowboys secondary with a slew of huge pass plays. The Chargers' quarterback heaved eight passes of 20-plus yards, including chunks of 46, 42, 38, 32 and 31 yards. Rivers blitzed a Cowboys defense that didn't force a punt all game. The efficient L.A. QB finished a remarkable 27-of-33 passing for 434 yards, three touchdown tosses and zero interceptions. Much has been made about the Cowboys' offensive line injuries and Ezekiel Elliott's suspension, but the defensive collapse -- zero sacks, zero turnovers the past two weeks -- without Sean Lee has played a massive part in the poor showings.

2. Keenan Allen (11 catches for 172 yards, TD) and Hunter Henry (5 for 76, TD) diced up Cowboys cover men all game. Allen was uncoverable for the second straight week, beating Dallas defenders off the line of scrimmage with ease, and breaking tackles on the second level. The receiver weaved his way around poor tacking attempts for the game-sealing 42-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. When Allen and Henry are heavily involved, the Chargers' offense can be one of the most dangerous units in the AFC. L.A. is now 5-1 this season when Henry gets at least five targets and 0-5 when he does not.

3. The Cowboys' offense remained stuck in the mud without Elliott. Dallas had gone 26 straight possessions over 10 quarters without a TD before Rod Smith's TD plunge early in the fourth quarter. Dallas went 154 snaps between TDs, according to CBS. Facing a Chargers run defense giving up 138.9 yards per game and 4.9 yards per attempt entering Thanksgiving, Dallas couldn't get anything going on the ground early sans Elliott. Running backs Alfred Morris and Rod Smith combined for 47 yards on 10 first-half runs. Down big in the fourth quarter, Dallas abandoned the run. Without Elliott, the Cowboys have been outscored 92 to 22 over three games.

4. Dak Prescott again struggled to earn chunk yards through the air. With Dez Bryant stymied by Chargers corner Casey Hayward -- zero first-half targets -- Prescott ran a constricted offense. Dallas' lack of separation speed on the outside allows defenses to squat on short routes, forcing the Cowboys QB to throw into tight windows. A struggling Dak played it conservative early before forcing a back-breaking pick-six in the red zone and another INT on the next possession to effectively end the game.

With teams not respecting the run, the play-action passes have been ineffective, and Dak has been in a bevy of long down-and-distant situations. Thursday's performance was another reminder of the massive effect of Elliott's suspension.

5. The Cowboys got left tackle Tyron Smith back this week but lost another key offensive lineman during the game. Zach Martin left with a head injury in the first half and was ruled out with a concussion. Joe Looney replaced the All-Pro right guard. Martin's absence was a blow to an already struggling Dallas offense. On a key third down on the opening drive of the second half Looney was burned by Joey Bosa on an inside stunt, forcing a throwaway and punt. Prescott was sacked twice on the day.

6. Chargers kicker Nick Novak missed an opening-drive field goal and hurt his back on the attempt. The injury caused L.A. to go for it on 4th-and-13 from the 16-yard line on the next possession -- turned over after a 12-yard gain. Novak returned for a chip-shot 22-yard field goal late in the first half but later missed a PAT. Punter Drew Kaser took over the kicking duties from there, missing two of three PATs. In a blowout, the Chargers left at least nine points on the field.

7. Sun glare in AT&T Stadium could have cost the Cowboys. Rookie corner Jourdan Lewis dropped a would-be interception in the second quarter with the score tied. It appeared Lewis lost the ball in the sun and had it deflect off his hands, falling harmlessly to the turf. The Chargers marched down for a 22-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead at halftime.

8. The Thanksgiving win puts the Chargers in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt at 5-6. The schedule sets up for Rivers & Co. to make a run toward January. L.A.'s remaining schedule: vs. Browns, vs. Redskins, at Chiefs, at Jets and vs. Raiders. With a weak AFC field, the Chargers have the talent on both sides of the ball to overcome the disastrous early-season start and make the playoffs. Only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs: the 1992 Chargers.

The fourth home loss of the season drops Dallas to 5-6 and well behind a cavalcade of NFC teams. With games remaining against the Redskins, Giants, Raiders, Seahawks and Eagles, the Cowboys will likely need to run the table to return to the playoffs.