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Cowboys close book on 49ers loss with 'resilient' victory over Chargers: 'It was a must-win'

After Dallas' worst loss of the season and most embarrassing defeat in quite a while last Sunday in San Francisco, the Cowboys bounced back in a big way on Monday night.

Dallas didn't play its best against the Los Angeles Chargers under the bright lights of SoFi Stadium and, despite the stellar uniform matchup, both sides played pretty ugly. But by the end of their 20-17 win, the 'Boys needed only one word to describe their one-week turnaround: resilience.

"Resilient, resilient," quarterback Dak Prescott exclaimed when asked by ESPN to describe his team's Week 6 performance. "We knew this was a really good team, record doesn't necessarily show it, but nothing does in this league."

Doesn't Dallas know it. Just eight days prior, the Cowboys, thought to be among the cream of the NFC crop, were blown off the field by the San Francisco 49ers, 42-10, on Sunday Night Football. The loss was "the most humbling game" of Prescott's career. But on Monday evening, Dallas could boast it was back on the right track.

"Resilience is within this team," receiver CeeDee Lamb told ESPN. "I mean, if you look at this game, the game wasn't clean. We didn't come out the way we wanted. We had a very slow start. ... I'm glad we could come out with a win, but it's a lot of things that we gotta work on to clean up."

The Cowboys played from ahead for most of the game and pressured Chargers star Justin Herbert relentlessly, but due to a number of errors, Dallas had to scratch out its fourth win of the season.

Dallas' run game in structure was next to non-existent -- Tony Pollard gained just 30 yards on 15 carries. The Cowboys committed 11 accepted penalties for 85 yards, handing the Chargers lifelines with four first downs. The worst unforced mistake of all came on special teams, when, with the Cowboys up seven in the fourth quarter, special teamer Jalen Tolbert jumped on what he thought was a loose ball on a punt return and fumbled it, setting up Los Angeles with an easy 20-yard game-tying TD drive..

The Cowboys could have allowed Tolbert's blunder to turn a sure thing into a second straight disaster. But Dallas responded with a 14-play, 54-yard field goal drive that included four first downs and killed 4:52 of clock, and then a game-sealing defensive stand led by Micah Parsons, Damone Clark and Stephon Gilmore, who corralled the winning interception.

"I think it's part of the definition of a complementary football team," Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. "The offense picks up the defense, and the defense picks up the offense, the special teams, all the way around when there's plays that need to be made down the stretch. It was a bumpy game out there -- about 20, 21 penalties called, a lot of back-and-forth, lot of resetting your jaw and just keep fighting -- and I thought our men did a really good job there."

The win allows Dallas to keep pace in the NFC East and the conference entire. With San Francisco (Dallas' Week 5 opponent) and Philadelphia (the 'Boys' main competition in the division) falling to 5-1, McCarthy's men, at 4-2, are now just a game behind their rivals.

One prime-time makeover later, it's almost like last week never happened.

"It's a good weekend," McCarthy said. "Crazy week in the NFL, but we were on the right side of it this week, and you know how fast that can turn."

The Cowboys now head into their Week 7 bye two games over .500. After taking on the other Los Angeles team in Week 8, Dallas will face the aforementioned Eagles, the next proving ground for America's Team.

Not all is right, but after falling flat in San Francisco, Dallas can say it saved its season and leave California with newfound confidence.

"S--- yeah, it was a must-win," Prescott told reporters. "I mean, it's early in the season, but 3-3, 4-2, it's a huge difference. Yeah, it just is. ... 4-2, second road win of the year against a great team, against a great offense, a great defense, going into the bye week, yeah... I mean we talked last week about not allowing this thing to landslide, and I just think a win like that allows you to really close that book.

"Obviously we closed that book this week preparing for this game … but when you get this one like you did, you definitely can move on."

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