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Chargers bolt to 27-7 win over Cowboys in NFL preseason opener Phillip Brents | Fri, Aug 15 2014 01:41 PM

 The NFL Experience? Well, there’s nothing quite like it if you are a football fan.

I got the VIP treatment for the Chargers’ preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 7. Sports intern Peter Kluch and I were treated to pregame hot dogs, soda and a meet-and-greet with Chargers CEO A.G. Spanos.

Our group was then whisked off to the field to watch pregame practice and, while there, met Chargers President Dean Spanos.

The Chargers’ hospitality far exceeded our expectations. The seats were great — at field level, about 20 rows up, in the west end zone — and it proved to be an overall entertaining game.

Peter and I exchanged high-fives every time the Chargers scored a touchdown. There were three of them in the hosts’ 27-7 victory and my hand was kind of smarting after the last one. It was different being a fan instead of a reporter for a change, and I think I even liked it.

I know Peter did. He’s lived in Chula Vista for 20 years and it was his first Chargers’ game.

“Wonderful experience — awesome game,” he gushed.

Family ties

The Spanos family has owned the Chargers since 1984 — more than half of the franchise’s existence since its founding in the American Football League in 1960. It’s been a highly successful one.

Over the past decade, the Chargers have won 104 games (regular season and playoffs combined), including five AFC West Division championships and four playoff games. Only three teams have won more games during that span (2004-13).

“Obviously, with so many in the family involved, there’s a lot to talk about around the dinner table,” A.G. Spanos explained.

There appears to be quite a lot to talk about this season, period.

The Chargers qualified for the NFL playoffs on the final day of the 2013-14 season by virtue of a thrilling overtime victory against the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. The Bolts then went on to promptly upset the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-10, in the wild card round before ending their season with a narrow 24-17 loss to the division champion Denver Broncos in the next round.

Will the Chargers make the playoffs again in 2014-15? Which team will win the AFC West? Could there be a Super Bowl appearance in the offing for the Bolts?

The Chargers kick off regular season play with a Sept. 8 appearance on Monday Night Football. It should be fun to watch.

Nuts N Bolts

Rookie Branden Oliver rushed for 64 yards on seven carries and scored on a 16-yard touchdown burst to highlight an overall productive 152-yard rushing effort by the hosts.

However, Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was quick to point out that one game does not a season make.

“He had a great game but it was just one game,” McCoy cautioned. “We’ll see what he does in the other games.”

Certainly, there were many bright spots on a night when few of the regulars got a chance to log significant game time.
The three Chargers quarterbacks — starter Philip Rivers and reserves Kellen Clemens and Brad Sorenson — combined to complete 14 of 16 passing attempts for 243 yards.

Rivers played the first quarter finishing four-for-four with 61 yards before handing the ball to Clemens (five-for-five, 134 yards) and Sorenson (five-of-seven, 48 yards).

Clemens connected on a perfectly thrown pass to Dontrelle Inman, who made an over-the-shoulder catch and evaded two Dallas defenders, in taking the ball 70 yards to the house.

The Cowboys ranked among the NFL’s worst defenses last season and, despite the delivery of some heavy hits in the opening half of the game, the Dallas defense sagged noticeably in the second half.

Again, it’s hard to tell what the regulars would do. Then again, if the regulars aren’t any better than last year’s showing, the Cowboys could be in real trouble this season if they can’t find any better replacements.

It should also be noted that Dallas star QB Tony Romo did not play in the Aug. 7 game.

The three Cowboys signal-callers who did completed 22 of 35 attempts for 204 yards and one touchdown. They were sacked three times and fumbled once, which led to a San Diego score by Kerwynn Williams, a practice squad player in 2013, on a one-yard run in the third quarter.

Nick Novak kicked field goals of 24 and 44 yards to round out the Chargers’ scoring in the game.

The Cowboys scored first on a four-yard pass from Brandon Weeden to James Hanna in the opening minutes of the second quarter. The hosts then reeled off 27 unanswered points to win by a commanding margin.

The Chargers could have added another touchdown but running back Ryan Mathews fumbled just prior to reaching the end zone.

Overall, it was a good effort: the Chargers racked up 395 yards in total offense. More importantly, it was an entertaining show for the 57,228 fans in attendance who obviously love their NFL football.

Extra points
Eastlake High School graduate Tony Jefferson will make a homecoming Aug. 28 when the Chargers close out their preseason schedule by hosting the Arizona Cardinals. A free safety, Jefferson racked up 24 tackles, including 19 solo stops, last season with the Cardinals after electing to forgo his senior year at Oklahoma.

Next up is Friday’s game in Seattle against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. Kick-off is 7 p.m. The game will be telecast live on KFMB-TV Channel 8.

It will be interesting to see if Rivers and Seahawks signal-caller Russell Wilson, who passed for 3,357 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, will be paired against one another in the same quarter.

Rivers passed for 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns last season.

The Chargers will play their third preseason game Aug. 24 at the San Francisco 49ers. That game will be telecast at 1 p.m. on the FOX-TV network.

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