May 29, 2024

The challenge already figured to be significant enough, what with Micah Parsons and Dak Prescott and the weight of America’s Team descending on SoFi Stadium.

Then the Dallas Cowboys went to Santa Clara and lost to San Francisco in a prime-team pummeling during which they were mocked by everything from the scoreboard’s numbers to George Kittle’s T-shirt.

Now, the Chargers get the Cowboys on the rebound, recoiling from a 32-point loss so sobering that Prescott, in explaining the need to bounce back, told reporters in Dallas, “You don’t have time in this league to have a hangover.”

In another prime-time slot Monday night, the Chargers (2-2) will have to overcome a wounded and ornery foe if they’re going to run their winning streak to three games and resurface above .500.

“You can never count on guys like that coming out and playing bad two weeks in a row,” wide receiver Keenan Allen said. “We can’t count on Dak playing like that, that defense playing like that. I’m pretty sure Micah’s gonna be ready to go.”

The NFL typically is as tight as the laces on the football, offering scant wiggle room from one week to the next. So it shouldn’t surprise that since early December 2020, the Cowboys have lost consecutive games in the same season only once.

They are 9-1 following their last 10 defeats as they return to the stadium in which they came back from a season-opening loss in 2021 to beat the Chargers 20-17 on a field goal with no time left.

“I’m pretty sure they’re going to be pissed off about how they played,” safety Derwin James Jr. said. “We know we’re going to get their best. They’re going to get our best too…

“Overall, when you get embarrassed — as a human being, anybody that gets embarrassed — you’re going to respond. There’s always going to be that urgency to respond.”

There will be emotion Monday and not just among the players. Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will be scheming against the team he spent eight years with as a player and coach.

Moore orchestrated Dallas’ offense the last four seasons and mentored Prescott and the team’s other quarterbacks for a year before that. Still, he downplayed the importance of his familiarity with all things Cowboys.

“A lot of that stuff is pretty overrated,” Moore said. “At the end of the day, it’s getting on the field and playing 11 on 11.”

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore stands on the sideline.

Kellen Moore spent four seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.

(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley said the Chargers would “be crazy” not to tap into the knowledge of Moore and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier, who worked in Dallas the previous five seasons. But he also dismissed the significance of possessing inside information once the game kicks off.

“This is a player-driven league,” Ansley said. “It’s going to be about the players on the grass. The plays are not going to win us the games. The players are going to win us the games.”

That kickoff will arrive with two teams still looking to establish their respective worthiness in a season that began with both touted as — at the very least — playoff contenders.

Entering Week 6, the Chargers had beaten teams that were a combined 3-7, while losing to teams that were 6-4. Also notable: Pro Football Focus ranks the Chargers’ remaining schedule as the NFL’s fourth toughest.

The Cowboys (3-2) had victories over teams that began the weekend 4-11. They also lost at one-win Arizona by double digits and were just trounced by the 49ers 42-10.

“I don’t even care,” Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer said of Dallas’ most-recent defeat. “To me, an ‘L’ is an ‘L.’ It doesn’t matter if you lose by 100 or you lose by one. When you lose, you’re always going to come back hungry.”

Running back Austin Ekeler said the way the Cowboys lost in Week 5 was more about San Francisco than where Dallas stands. He warned against reading too much into any lopsided result.

“Remember a few years ago, when it was going to be this great game between us and Baltimore?” Ekeler said. “Then we came out and got beat like 40-7. It happens in this league. That’s life in the NFL.”

Ekeler was talking about a game exactly two years ago, in Week 6 of 2021. The Chargers and Ravens were both 4-1 when they met at M&T Bank Stadium and Baltimore dominated, 34-6.

And how’d those Chargers respond? By taking a break, the schedule bringing their off week.

The Cowboys won’t be off Monday, the Chargers instead expecting their prime-time opponent to be very much on.

Injury updates

The Chargers’ designated edge rusher Joey Bosa (toe) as questionable. He hasn’t played since the Week 3 victory at Minnesota.

Starting safety Alohi Gilman (heel) is doubtful after missing practice all week. He also hasn’t played since Week 3.

Among the reserves, tight end Donald Parham Jr. (wrist) and defensive lineman Nick Williams (back) are questionable, and cornerback Deane Leonard (hamstring) is doubtful.

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