SAN DIEGO — Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes and the San Diego Chargers pitched a second-half shutout to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 30-21 at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.
San Diego outscored Dallas 21-0 after falling behind 21-10 on a pick-6 returned by linebacker Sean Lee for the Cowboys’ third touchdown of the first half.
But the Chargers started getting pressure on Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo, and San Diego’s offense surged behind Rivers, who flipped two touchdowns to running back Danny Woodhead and a 56-yard strike to tight end Antonio Gates with 7:02 to play as the Chargers improved to 2-2.
Rivers passed for 401 yards and and Gates caught 10 passes for 136 yards.
Rivers completed 35 of 42 passes for his second 400-yard passing game of the season and fifth of his career.
A suspect defense allowing 470.7 yards per game stonewalled the Cowboys (2-2) in the second half.
Dallas fell short in its rally from a nine-point deficit with 2:42 remaining in
the game when the Chargers got a big play from their much-maligned secondary. Chargers cornerback Crezdon Butler forced Cowboys rookie receiver Terrance Williams to fumble while reaching for the goal line. The reception would have set up the Cowboys with a 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Cornerback Richard Marshall recovered for the Chargers in the end zone for a touchback.
San Diego trailed by eight at halftime and pulled within one when Rivers tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Woodhead with 9:32 left in the third quarter. Nick Novak stretched the lead with a field goal in the third and the Chargers went up 30-21 when Gates raced past Lee and Rivers hit him in stride for a 56-yard score with 6:54 left in the contest.
Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant had a rhythm in the first half again. They connected on touchdowns of 5 and 34 yards in the second quarter. Lee returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown as Dallas took a 21-13 halftime lead.