Bledsoe throws three TDs as Cowboys stop Chargers

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- 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

"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.

Game notes
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.


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