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Dallas at San Diego

Bledsoe has impressive Dallas debut with 3 TDs vs. San Diego

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

SAN DIEGO -- Except for one particularly brutal series, Drew Bledsoe's reunion with Bill Parcells is off to a wild and impressive start.

Hit and harassed all afternoon, Bledsoe responded like the veteran he is, throwing three touchdown passes, two to Keyshawn Johnson, to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a 28-24 win over the defending AFC West champion San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

"It is the best feeling in the world to have a close game come down to just a couple of plays and you are able to do it," said Bledsoe, who became the 10th player in NFL history to throw for 40,000 yards.

Bledsoe threw the winning 2-yard touchdown pass with 3:06 left as Johnson beat cornerback Sammy Davis on a quick out.

"That third-down completion to Keyshawn for the touchdown ... I live for this stuff," Bledsoe said.

The Cowboys didn't get to celebrate, though, until Aaron Glenn intercepted Drew Brees' throw in the end zone with 24 seconds left. Brees kept alive a desperation drive with a 33-yard completion to Eric Parker to the Dallas 7 with just more than a minute left. Then Brees' fourth-down pass bounced off Parker and Glenn came down with it.

"When it got tipped in the air I knew it was going to be either me or him that was going to get it," Glenn said.

Signing the 33-year-old Bledsoe on Feb. 23 was part of a sweeping offseason makeover after the Cowboys went 6-10. While with New England, Parcells made Bledsoe the first overall pick in the 1993 draft.

"This game was very, very important for us, not only to win it but to win it the way that we did," Bledsoe said.

Dallas' winning drive started on the San Diego 44 after Mike Scifres' shanked punt went only 18 yards. It was kept alive when cornerback Quentin Jammer was called for holding on third-and-16 at the 37. After three carries by Julius Jones, Bledsoe hit Johnson.

Bledsoe passed the 40,000-yard mark on a 15-yard completion to Terry Glenn on the first play of the fourth quarter. Bledsoe was 18-of-24 for 226 yards, giving him 40,034 yards in his career. He was sacked four times and wasn't intercepted.

"Bledsoe was pretty accurate," Parcells said. "When we were open, he hit it, pretty much."

San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who wants to break Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, was held to 72 yards on 19 carries. He scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter, his 13th straight game with a TD rushing to tie the NFL record held by John Riggins and George Rogers.

Brees threw two touchdown passes to Keenan McCardell and was intercepted twice. He was 18-of-35 for 209 yards. McCardell had nine catches for 123 yards.

Chargers All-Pro Antonio Gates missed the game as he finished his three-game suspension for missing a team-mandated deadline to end his training camp holdout.

While coach Marty Schottenheimer downplayed the absence of Gates, Tomlinson said it hurt.

"I'm sure Bill said, 'If we stop the run, we have a great chance to win the game because they don't have their All-Pro tight end,' " Tomlinson said.

Brees faulted himself for the interception at the end.

"We had four shots at it. I've got to come through," said Brees, who led San Diego to a 12-4 record last year.

Bledsoe rallied Dallas after a monumentally ugly second series, when the Cowboys were whistled for three holding penalties and two false starts, although one holding call was declined after the Chargers sacked Bledsoe at the Dallas 1.

Mat McBriar punted to the 50, and Dallas forced San Diego into a three-and-out, including a 13-yard sack of Brees.

Bledsoe hit Patrick Crayton for a 32-yard gain on third-and-9 from the Dallas 21, then hit a wide-open Crayton for a 20-yard touchdown to tie it at 7.

Terence Newman intercepted Brees three plays into the next Chargers drive, at the San Diego 34. Five plays later, Bledsoe threw a 13-yard pass to Johnson, who reached back for the ball and fell into the end zone for a 14-7 lead.

San Diego tied it on Brees' 20-yard pass to McCardell.

Rookie Darren Sproles had consecutive kickoff returns of 49 and 49 yards in the second half to set up San Diego scores: a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brees to McCardell and Nate Kaeding's 33-yard field goal.

In between those scores, Dallas' Julius Jones scored on a 5-yard run to tie the game at 21. The drive was kept alive when Chargers rookie lineman Luis Castillo was penalized for hitting Bledsoe on the helmet with his right hand. Bledsoe also had completions of 25 and 18 yards to Johnson.


  • With 764 career catches, McCardell tied his position coach, Hall of Famer James Lofton, for 14th on the all-time list.
  • Chargers DE Igor Olshansky sprained his right ankle.
  • Among the inactive players were Cowboys WR Peerless Price and Chargers rookie OLB Shawne Merriman.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Drew Bledsoe and Keyshawn Johnson open the season with a big win for Dallas.
Drew Bledsoe and Keyshawn Johnson open the season with a big win for Dallas. (AP)


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Sun. Sept. 11Final
Scoring Summary
TDLaDainian Tomlinson, 2 Yd run (Nate Kaeding kick is good), 6:53. Drive: 11 plays, 67 yards in 5:08.
TDPatrick Crayton, 20 Yd pass from Drew Bledsoe (Jose Cortez kick is good), 13:34. Drive: 9 plays, 80 yards in 4:36.
TDKeyshawn Johnson, 13 Yd pass from Drew Bledsoe (Jose Cortez kick is good), 9:46. Drive: 5 plays, 34 yards in 2:47.
TDKeenan McCardell, 20 Yd pass from Drew Brees (Nate Kaeding kick is good), 2:07. Drive: 14 plays, 68 yards in 7:39.
TDKeenan McCardell, 17 Yd pass from Drew Brees (Nate Kaeding kick is good), 10:31. Drive: 8 plays, 51 yards in 4:29.
TDJulius Jones, 5 Yd run (Jose Cortez kick is good), 5:41. Drive: 11 plays, 80 yards in 4:50.
FGNate Kaeding 33 Yd, 0:12. Drive: 10 plays, 33 yards in 5:29.
TDKeyshawn Johnson, 2 Yd pass from Drew Bledsoe (Jose Cortez kick is good), 3:06. Drive: 9 plays, 44 yards in 5:26.
Players of the Game

K. McCardell
Rec 9
Yds 123
Avg 13.7
TD 2

D. Bledsoe
Att 24
Comp 18
Yds 226
TD 3
D. Bledsoe18/2422630
J. Jones2693113
A. Thomas3905
D. Bledsoe4709
P. Crayton689132
K. Johnson565225
T. Glenn342015
J. Jones318014
J. Witten112012
San Diego
D. Brees18/3520922
L. Tomlinson1972110
L. Neal31509
R. Caldwell1707
M. Turner2707
D. Brees1202
K. McCardell9123220
E. Parker575033
R. Caldwell1909
L. Neal1606
J. Peelle2-40-1
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
PHI 10 Final
ATL 14
IND 24 Final
STL 25 Final
SF 28
ARI 19 Final
NYG 42
GB 3 Final
DET 17
CHI 7 Final
TEN 7 Final
PIT 34
TB 24 Final
MIN 13
DEN 10 Final
MIA 34
NYJ 7 Final
KC 27
SEA 14 Final
JAC 26
CIN 27 Final
CLE 13
NO 23 Final
CAR 20
HOU 7 Final
BUF 22
OAK 20 Final
NE 30