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The VRR: Cowboys Must Charge Ahead

Even though the Cowboys dominated the Giants in many facets of last week's game, they failed to match their rivals in the number of big plays made. Although they lost, they are still atop the division and must strive to remain there.

It's Wednesday, so let's start transitioning towards some Chargers' talk!

First, how hot are the Chargers? Seven games-in-a-row hot!

The red-hot Chargers make their first visit to Dallas since 2001 this Sunday and haven't lost since a 34-23 verdict to division-rival Denver back in Week 6.

San Diego has scored 30 points or more in each of its last four victories under head coach Norv Turner, who helped the Cowboys win two Super Bowls during his three-year run as offensive coordinator from 1991-93.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers is having an MVP-type year. Yikes!

Lost in the excitement over the play of undefeated quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees has been Rivers' sensational campaign. He has followed up 2008's phenomenal output with more eye-popping numbers (3,311 yards, 21 touchdowns).

He will now take aim on the Cowboys' 20th-ranked pass defense.

Rivers is up for the FedEx Air Player of the Week award for his 18-for-25 for 373 yards and two touchdowns performance against Cleveland.

More VRR after the jump.

The Cowboys can ill-afford to have special teams breakdowns this week.

The Chargers take special teams seriously. Kicker Nate Kaeding has been to the Pro Bowl, as has San Diego's own special teams ace Kassim Osgood. If Oakland's Shane Lechler didn't kick in the same division, Chargers punter Mike Scifres would have been to a Pro Bowl by now as well. They supply the routine plays that have allowed the Chargers to finish in the NFL's top 10 in special teams each of the last three seasons.

But (Darren) Sproles supplies the big plays, scoring four touchdowns on kick returns the last three seasons. He ran a punt (45 yards) and kickoff (89) back against Indianapolis in 2007, a kickoff back 103 yards against Denver in 2008 and another punt back 77 yards this season against Denver.

The 'Boys and Bolts have alot in common, especially in the staffing and personnel departments.

There are several connections between the two squads. The most notable is Dallas coach Wade Phillips, who was the Chargers' defensive coordinator from 2004-06 and was the architect of the Chargers' current 3-4 defense. Chargers coach Norv Turner made a name for himself as the offensive coordinator in Dallas from 1991-93, a span when the Cowboys won two Super Bowls.

On the players side, DE Igor Olshansky was drafted by the Chargers and left as an free agent in the offseason. Dallas CB Cletis Gordon was cut by the Chargers early this season. Chargers ILB Kevin Burnett played for the Cowboys from 2005-08 before coming to the Chargers in the offseason.

No new injuries have popped up yet for the 'Boys. We will keep an eye out today to see if FS Ken Hamlin returns to practice.

If you have yet to read John (obviousman)'s FanPost, it's to the right. He' has been kind enough to come over from Bolts From the Blue to answer your Chargers questions. Thanks, John!

Keith Brooking had quite the exchange with CBS 11's Steve Dennis regarding the perception surrounding Wade Phillips and the Cowboys' December record.

"He owns up to it every day in front of us," Brooking said. "Because you might not perceive it as that means nothing, means nothing to me, means nothing to the football team. I’m there every day. I’m there at every meeting, I’m there at every day during practice. You’re in the locker room for 35 minutes a day maybe, you’re on the practice field while we stretch. You’re not there every day. You don’t see what goes on at every meeting and every practice, the sacrifices that we make, the accountability that Wade Phillips holds us to every day."

"I’ll go to fight for that man until I hang my cleats up and I’m done playing football, because I have the utmost respect for him. Everything I’ve seen from my teammates and everything I’ve heard, they feel the same way, bottom line."

One game at a time, but here's a quick refresher of what Dallas may need to do to return to the postseason.

The Cowboys (8-4) need to go 3-1 over the final four to guarantee a playoff spot with an 11-5 record. They could get in at 10-6 but it's no guarantee.

They would lose a wild-card tie breaker with the Packers (8-4) and the Giants (7-4). Remember the loss to the Packers and the Giants swept the season series.

Here's an overview of the playoff picture, so far.

As we all have seen this year, Miles Austin is a beast after the catch. So is San Diego TE Antonio Gates.

According to STATS Inc., Austin ranks third among wide receivers/tight ends with 397 YAC, trailing only Wes Welker (557) and Antonio Gates (442). That's 43 percent of his 928 total receiving yards.

Ray Sherman gives all the YAC credit to his receiver.

"When he catches it, you tell him, 'Get up the field and be explosive' because he has a God-given talent," receivers coach Ray Sherman said.

"You don't coach that. "The thing that I teach is understanding coverages, understanding what people are trying to do to you, understanding how to run a particular play versus coverage. But after you catch it, protect the ball and get going. That's all him."

The league fined Flozell Adams $50,000 for pushing Justin Tuck in the back.

Hat to ImpactNate for the FanShot.

Tony Franklin, a former NFL kicker, says that Nick Folk's 42-yarder was makeable despite Mat McBriar's supposed bad hold.

"If the ball is tilted slightly backward or forward, it shouldn't make that much of a difference," Tony Franklin said Tuesday. "The only time I had kicks that looked like that is when I happened to catch the ball when it was still spinning. ... (The hold) shouldn't have affected it at all, but, hey, different strokes for different folks."

The ball, with its laces facing away from him, appeared stationary when Folk struck it. After the miss, the Giants drove for a 23-yard field goal for a 24-17 lead with 7:23 left.

Here are the ratings for the Cowboys @ Giants game - huge, as usual.

The broadcast drew an 18.9 overnight rating and 35 share. That's the highest since a 19.1/35 for a matchup between the two teams in 2006.

Wear your protective visors; don't want to get poked in the eyes! The JerryTron will go 3D this week at Cowboys Stadium.

Sunday, December 13 at the Dallas Cowboys-San Diego Chargers game, HDlogix, a company that has created a synthesized 3D technology, will convert HDTV video of the sports action into 3D. At half-time and during the game, attendees at Cowboys Stadium will see real time 3D video created from HDlogix’s new ImageIQ 3D technology.

Could this mean that spectators will be dodging blood and sweat if Jerry Jones lands the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight?

Promoters are in Dallas today to meet with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as the momentum continues to grow for a March 13 megafight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Promoters Bob Arum and Richard Schaefer will tour new Dallas Cowboys stadium and listen to a proposal from Jones to host the fight, a person close to the promotion said.

$140 million has been spent since the opening of Cowboys Stadium.

For all you Dallas locals, ESPN Dallas is hosting its Jingle Ball 2009 event tonight. Many past and present Cowboys will be making appearances, some will be signing autographs.

Come out and join us at Cape Buffalo in Addison on Wednesday, December 9th for this celeb-packed event benefiting the Dallas All Sports Association and the Ron Springs and Everson Walls Gift For Life Foundation!

Vote for some Cowboys to make the 2010 Pro Bowl here. Let's get Sam Hurd in there!

Remember, that every Friday at 3 PM EST (2 CST), Blogging The Boys appears on ESPN Radio 1250 in San Antonio with Paul Alexander for a segment of Cowboys talk.

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