With Romo, Cowboys coming to town, Chargers have to learn how to close out games

The last thing the San Diego Chargers want to give Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys is one last chance to score.

The Chargers' two losses this season have come after allowing an opponent to jump ahead on its final possession.

The Tennessee Titans did it last Sunday with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jake Locker to rookie Justin Hunter with 15 seconds left for a 20-17 win.

On opening night, the Chargers blew a 21-point second half lead and lost 31-28 to Houston on Randy Bullock's 41-yard field goal as time expired.

San Diego had the Titans pinned on their own 7-yard line with more than 2 minutes left and no timeouts.

"I'll take my chances any day of making a team go 94 yards in a two-minute situation on our defense to make a stop," rookie coach Mike McCoy said Monday. "But like I told our team, 'Don't get to that point. Don't put it on the defense. Convert that four-minute situation, pick up first downs at end of the game and the game is over.' But we didn't get it done."

The Chargers (1-2) led most of the game but in the end, couldn't collect enough first downs to kill the clock.

"It's all about winning," McCoy said, "and we didn't get it done at the end."

So here come Romo and the Cowboys (2-1), who will try to win three of their first four games for the first time since 2008.

The Cowboys beat the St. Louis Rams 31-7, with Romo throwing for three touchdowns and DeMarco Murray rushing for 175 yards and a touchdown.

Here are five things to watch when the Cowboys play the Chargers:

MAKING IT EASY ON ROMO: DeMarco Murray had his first 100-yard game in more than a year against the Rams, the same team he torched for a franchise-record 253 yards rushing as a rookie two years ago. He went 14 yards on Dallas' first offensive play and set up two other scoring drives with runs of 41 and 36 yards. As a result, Romo had his fewest pass attempts since the last time Murray ran over the Rams, and threw for three touchdowns on just 210 yards passing. It also helps that the Cowboys haven't trailed in their two wins. Romo has one interception after tying for the league lead last year with 19. "If you're throwing 50 balls and 25 of them are under duress, it's just bound to have a negative effect throughout the football game," Romo said.

PERHAPS NOW, TE'O? Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te'o might be ready to make his NFL debut. He hasn't played since injuring his right foot in the exhibition opener on Aug. 8, when he was in for only nine plays. The Chargers said it was a sprain, but Te'o's long recovery time raised questions about whether it was something more serious. McCoy doesn't like expounding on injuries, so no one might ever know.

COWBOYS D-LINE SHUFFLE: Now the Cowboys know they won't have defensive end Anthony Spencer for the rest of the season after wondering for two months whether his left knee would come around. DeMarcus Ware is still the star of the line — and the sack leader with four after setting the franchise career record last week. Tackle Jason Hatcher is emerging as a vocal team leader. The rest of the group is interchangeable parts, although offseason addition Nick Hayden leads the line in tackles and had the most snaps against St. Louis. Journeyman George Selvie, who didn't join the Cowboys until after training camp opened, starts in Spencer's place.

CHARGERS O-LINE: The Chargers won't know their five starting offensive linemen until Sunday. Left tackle King Dunlap has a concussion, so Mike Harris, who started nine games at left tackle last year as a rookie, could be protecting Philip Rivers' blind spot against Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. Journeyman Rich Ohrnberger could be at left guard if Chad Rinehart (turf toe) isn't ready.

Center Nick Hardwick (shin splints) and right guard Jeromey Clary (collarbone) could play on Sunday. Right tackle D.J. Fluker was the only starter practicing Wednesday. "There's not time to worry," Rivers said.

REALLY, RIVERS? Philip Rivers probably wishes he could take two things back from the loss to the Titans. First, he was slapped for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing a pass interference call that took a touchdown off the board. The flag against Rivers gave the Chargers a first-and-goal at the Titans 30. Rivers didn't think he crossed any lines but said: "There is no excuse. I can't leave it in their hands to have a reason to throw it. That is my first and only unsportsmanlike in my career, so I can guarantee you it won't happen again." Then there was the comical last play of the game, when the Chargers desperately tried to keep the ball alive with seven laterals. The ball ended up with Rivers and he kicked it, drawing another penalty and ending the game.


Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL


AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Irving contributed.