It was very clear in studying the Chargers all week that despite what we had all heard or read about their problems in pass coverage or along the offensive line, that as long as Philip Rivers was under center, there were potential issues for this Cowboys defense to have to deal with.
Rivers was nothing short of perfect in the way he managed this football game. Series after series, he put his offense in situations that hurt the Cowboys defense the most. For head coach Mike McCoy and his squad, it was a simple game plan: Take advantage of timely running by Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, but also allow Rivers to make some simple passes, then take a shot or two down the field.
Where Rivers was at his best in this game was protecting his offensive line, keeping his down-distance manageable and making correct decisions on where to go with ball. As much as Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin tried with different looks and blitz packages, Rivers was up to the task. As the game wore on, my sense was not that the Cowboys defense was dictating the flow of the game, but Rivers was.
There are some days in this league where you play against a quarterback that has all the answers and Rivers was that guy today. You can say what you want about the Chargers defense, and at times in the second half they played well. But it was Rivers that won this game, no doubt in my mind.
On paper, this should have been a walk for the Cowboys, but they don't play these games on paper. Rivers proved that.