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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) warms up before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )

The shootout in SoCal never materialized on Sunday. 

A game featuring two of the NFL’s most prolific young quarterbacks got bogged down by penalties, mistakes and second-half field goals. Fittingly, it ended with a 56-yard field goal from kicker Greg Zuerlein as the Dallas Cowboys topped the Los Angeles Chargers, 20-17.

With the win, the Cowboys avoided digging an 0-2 hole to start the season while the Chargers let a winnable game at home slip away. 

The Cowboys won without a touchdown pass from Dak Prescott, as Dallas was content run its offense through running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. They struck first with a 4-yard touchdown run by Pollard on their opening drive and opened a 14-3 lead with a five-yard run by Elliott late in the first quarter. 

The Chargers found the end zone on a 12-yard pass from Justin Herbert to Mike Williams late in the first half and cut their deficit to 14-11 with a successful two-point conversion. But in a game where the Chargers were expected to feats on a hobbled Cowboys defense, that was the last time they’d find the end zone on Sunday. At least on plays that weren’t overturned. 

Herbert thew two more touchdowns in the second half, but both scores were nullified by penalties. The Chargers appeared to take a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter on a 36-yard strike from Herbert to tight end Donald Parham Jr. But a borderline holding call in the backfield negated the score. 

The Chargers drove to the red zone, but the drive ended with a Herbert interception to Damontae Kazee in the end zone. The Cowboys countered with a 64-yard drive the stalled at the 16-yard line, resulting in a Zuerlein field goal to take a 17-14 lead.