Toronto, Canada – ARLINGTON, Texas (Reuters) - The San Diego Chargers streaked to their eighth successive win, holding off the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 behind 10 fourth-quarter points on Sunday.
Philip Rivers fired his 100th career touchdown pass for San Diego (10-3) to break a 10-10 tie and Nate Kaeding added a 34-yard field goal before the Cowboys (8-5) scored on a Tony Romo pass with two seconds remaining.
"It took all of us to get that done," Rivers told reporters. "I can't say enough about our defense and special teams. They were unreal."
The win, a league-best 16th in a row in December games, gave the Chargers a two-game lead over the Denver Broncos (8-5) in the AFC West with three games remaining in the regular season.
Dallas, 3-8 in its last 11 December games, had shared the NFC East lead with Philadelphia before the loss but the Eagles (9-4) beat the New York Giants later on Sunday to open up a one-game advantage.
The play followed a 39-yard toss from Rivers to Vincent Jackson on third-and-12 to keep the drive alive.
Kaeding's field goal nine minutes later made it a two-score game with 1:56 remaining and the Cowboys could get only one of them back, Romo's nine-yard pass to Patrick Crayton just before time expired.
LaDainian Tomlinson's one-yard TD run and a 29-yard Kaeding field goal had sparked San Diego to a 10-3 halftime lead.
The score was Tomlinson's 136th career touchdown and he has now gone nine consecutive seasons with 10 or more rushing touchdowns, an NFL record.
Romo leveled the score with a six-yard pass to Miles Austin as time expired in the third quarter.
San Diego's defense stopped Dallas three consecutive times at the one-yard line in the second quarter and the Cowboys missed another chance to score before halftime when Nick Folk missed a 42-yard field goal after Rivers was intercepted.
"Those kind of plays in a close game are going to be the difference," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "We've got to make those plays and we didn't."
The Cowboys, now in a two-game slump, play at unbeaten New Orleans on Saturday and may be without linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who sprained his neck in the fourth quarter. He was released from a local hospital after the game.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom/Nick Mulvenney)