GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Just when things looked bleakest for the Arizona Cardinals, their offense came alive with two late touchdown drives.
And the second one was a doozy.
Arizona went 91 yards in 10 plays, capped by rookie John Brown’s 13-yard TD catch from Carson Palmer with 2:25 to play, to rally for an 18-17 season-opening victory over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night.
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”It’s just good,” Palmer said. ”It’s just good for our offense to get that confidence and get that drive.”
Then it was up to the defense to keep the Chargers down.
”I don’t think anybody was surprised,” Palmer said. ”I think we all expected it.”
None of the Cardinals were surprised that Brown, the small, speedy wide receiver from little Pittsburg State (Kansas) made the winning play.
”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.”
Here are some things that stood out Monday night.
FOOTE-BALL: Inside linebacker Larry Foote had a big debut for Arizona, taking the place of last year’s playmaker Karlos Dansby. Foote had eight unassisted tackles, two for loss, and a defended pass.
”That’s the Larry Foote I’ve known for 10 years,” Arians said. ”He is a football player, and that’s all you can describe him as.”
SNAP JUDGEMENT: A crucial play came in the fourth quarter when San Diego was driving for what looked to be at least a field goal.
But in shotgun formation, backup center Rich Ohrnburger snapped the ball off quarterback Rivers’ chest. Rivers had to race back and fall on the ball. That pushed the Chargers out of field-goal range.
Arizona took the punt on its 9-yard line and mounted the winning drive.
”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.”
Rivers took the blame.
” It was a little hot,” he said, ”but like I told Rich, `It wasn’t your best snap but I got to catch it.”’
BIG DEFENDER: Attaochu, the rookie outside linebacker, had a big debut.
”It doesn’t surprise me one bit,” McCoy said. ”The guy has a want to, a will to win.”
Attaochu called his game ”pretty good.”
”Definitely still a long season,” he said. ”I need to continue to play my role, work hard in practice and try to earn the respect of my teammates.”
FITZGERALD’S CATCH: Larry Fitzgerald was in danger of having his long streak of consecutive games with at least a catch come to an end.
But with 4:04 to play, he finally gathered in a 26-yard pass, making it 150 consecutive games with a reception.
It was an important play in the winning drive.
Palmer acknowledged that in the past he has thrown it to Fitzgerald when he shouldn’t have.
”I learned some lessons last year,” Palmer said. ”You want to get him involved, but it can bite you in the butt. We weren’t going to do that tonight.”
FLOYD’S BIG GAME: It was another big game for Arizona wide receiver Michael Floyd, who topped 1,000 yards receiving last year, his second season in the NFL.
Floyd caught five passes for 119 yards, including a pretty 63-yard over-the-shoulder reception.
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