John Brown made his first NFL touchdown a big one. The Arizona Cardinals believe many more are to follow.
The small, speedy rookie wide receiver from little Pittsburg State in Kansas caught a 13-yard scoring pass from Carson Palmer with 2:25 to play, and the Arizona Cardinals rallied to beat the San Diego Chargers 18-17 on Monday night.
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"It was a sweet little touchdown," Palmer said. "That’s what he does. He’s so shifty. It’s like somebody’s controlling him with a joystick. He is so quick and so hard to find on those little quick screens."
Brown took the short toss in the flat and eluded tacklers into the end zone, capping an 11-play, 91-yard drive.
"When I first caught the ball, I saw a Charger player coming, and I saw our guy block him," Brown said, "and I saw another Charger dude coming, and I took a step inside and he got blocked, and I ran right in the end zone."
Arizona trailed 17-6 after three quarters.
"We had some ups and downs," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "It wasn’t the prettiest game, but a win is a win."
Jerry Attaochu blocked a punt and forced a fumble, setting up 10 Chargers points.
"Too many mistakes. Too many mistakes in crucial times," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We had plenty of opportunities. Offensively, we had too many mistakes in crucial times that turned into points."
With his team trailing 6-3 at the half, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers went 6 for 6 for 82 yards on a drive to open the second half. His six-yard pass to Malcom Floyd for the TD put the Chargers ahead 10-6.
After Attaochu forced Palmer’s fumble, Ryan Mathews ran 20 yards for a touchdown that made it 17-6.
The Cardinals finally got a touchdown on a 10-play, 64-yard drive. Palmer scrambled and then tossed five yards to Stepfan Taylor to cut the lead to 17-12 with 12:30 to play. The two-point conversion try failed.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Chargers appeared to be headed for at least a field goal, but the snap from backup center Rich Ohrnberger bounced off of Rivers. By the time he fell on the ball, San Diego was out of field-goal range.
"I’m not looking for any excuses," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "I saw it on the big screen like everyone else saw it in the game. No excuses. It can’t happen in that situation. That was a killer for us."
The Cardinals took the punt at their 9-yard line with 6:50 to go and mounted the long scoring march.
Arizona rookie Chandler Catanzaro kicked field goals of 44 and 22 yards.
The Cardinals had a 211-108 advantage in yards in the first two quarters but led only 6-3 on Catanzaro’s 44-yarder as the half ended.
Jerraud Powers intercepted Rivers’ pass at the Arizona 44 with 16 seconds left in the half. Palmer threw five yards to Andre Ellington, then 2 yards to Ted Ginn Jr. to set up the kick.
Arizona scored first on Catanzaro’s 22-yard field goal with 12:42 left in the first half.
San Diego’s lone first-half score came after Drew Butler’s punt was blocked by Attaochu. Butler had been signed earlier Monday and took the place of regular punter Dave Zastudil, who was out with a groin injury.
Again, Arizona’s defense shut down the Chargers, and Nick Novak’s 36-yard field goal tied it 3-3 with six minutes to play.
The only big play of the first quarter was Palmer’s long pass that hit Michael Floyd in stride for a 63-yard gain to the Chargers 28. But two plays later, Marcus Gilchrist wrestled the ball away from Andre Ellington.
The ball bounced downfield, where Arizona tackle Bobby Massie tried to pick up the ball rather than fall on it. Initially, officials ruled Massie had recovered, but Chargers coach Mike McCoy challenged and the call was reversed. Donald Butler recovered the ball for San Diego at the Chargers 28.
Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald caught one pass with 4:04 to play to keep alive his streak of at least one reception in 150 consecutive games.
NOTES: Kurt Warner was inducted into the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor in a halftime ceremony. … Arizona defensive tackle Frostee Rucker left the game early due to a calf injury. … San Diego starting center Nick Hardwick left the game in the first half with a left ankle injury. … Ellington had been listed as questionable with a left foot injury.