Rivers, Chargers beat fading Cowboys 28-6 on Thanksgiving
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers are on the move. Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys are fading fast.
Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns in his first Thanksgiving game in his 14th season and the Chargers beat the fading Cowboys 28-6 on Thursday.
Desmond King returned an interception 90 yards for the punctuating touchdown as the Chargers (5-6) moved within 1½ games of AFC West-leading Kansas City after starting 0-4 while the Chiefs won their first five.
The defending NFC East champion Cowboys (5-6) lost their third straight by at least 20 points, all without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, in a damaging defeat for their fading playoff hopes.
Dallas, playing its 50th Thanksgiving game, finally ended a touchdown drought at a team-record 10 quarters on Rod Smith’s 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys have been outscored 72-6 in the second half of the three losses.
Keenan Allen had a career-high 172 yards on 11 catches with a touchdown, giving him 23 grabs for 331 yards and three scores in the past two games.
Prescott has looked lost without Elliott, his backfield mate for a pair of remarkable rookie seasons that led the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC last season. Prescott had two interceptions, giving him five in two games after throwing just four a year ago.
Last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has nine picks for the season. Elliott is halfway through a six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence.
LA overcame the loss of kicker Nick Novak to a back injury, the second straight game that Dallas’ opposing kicker was injured and in the same game that Dallas’ Dan Bailey returned after missing four games with a groin injury.
Just like last week in the Cowboys’ blowout loss to division-leading Philadelphia, neither of the kickers mattered much with the Dallas offense sputtering and the defense not getting key stops.
Novak returned to make a 22-yard field goal after the injury, but left for good after missing an extra point. Punter Drew Kaser was 1 of 3 on extra points. The Chargers went for a fourth-and-13 in field goal range in a scoreless game early in the second quarter with Novak’s status in doubt, coming up a yard short.
Four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith returned for Dallas after missing two games with back and groin injuries, but the Cowboys lost 2014 All-Pro right guard Zack Martin to a concussion in the first half.
Rivers, who was 27 of 33 for a 149.1 passer rating without a sack, had seven completions of at least 22 yards.
That included Allen’s weaving 42-yard catch-and-run for a score when he ran past safety Jeff Heath on the sideline, cut between two more safeties in Xavier Woods and Byron Jones before past cutting inside cornerback Anthony Brown for a 22-6 lead.
Austin Ekeler had a 38-yard catch to set up San Diego’s first touchdown in the third quarter, and Tyrell Williams added a 31-yard grab before making a 27-yard scoring catch.
LA now has a Thanksgiving winning streak in Texas, since the Chargers’ previous holiday showing was a 21-17 AFL win at Houston in 1969, the year before the merger. It was the longest gap (48 years) between Thanksgiving games in NFL history.
THAT KIND OF DAY
Prescott ran free on a read option for what looked like a 34-yard touchdown, but Smith was called for holding. The Cowboys were down 9-0 at the time.
Dallas tight end Jason Witten, already the Thanksgiving record-holder in catches, passed Detroit’s Herman Moore for the most yards on the holiday. Witten now has 80 catches for 853 yards.
Chargers LT Russell Okung was the only player from either team with a display during the national anthem, raising his fist while he was a step behind teammates lined up on the sideline. … Head referee Jerome Boger caught himself while announcing a timeout for the Chargers, saying “timeout San Diego,” before correcting it to Los Angeles.
Chargers: Browns on Dec. 3 in first of two straight home games.
Cowboys: Redskins next Thursday in last of three straight home games.