Chargers 24, Cardinals 7
Ryan Mathews is off and running this preseason, and Jonathan
Cooper’s season could be over before it really began.
Mathews, slowed by two broken collarbones a year ago, carried 14
times for 57 yards and a touchdown, and the Chargers beat the
mistake-prone Cardinals 24-7 for their first preseason victory
under new coach Mike McCoy. Mathews did fumble the ball at the
Arizona goal line, but even that play turned in to a San Diego
The Cardinals lost several players due to injury, including left
guard Jonathan Cooper, the team’s first-round pick who broke his
left leg and was helped off the field in the third quarter.
”We don’t know if it’ll be the season, or if he’ll get to
return,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, ”Right now it’s
looking like the season.”
Arizona’s Rashard Mendenhall carried six times for 47 yards
before leaving with an ankle injury.
The Chargers blocked a punt, blocked a field goal and returned a
fumble for a touchdown – all in the first half.
”We talk about being a smart football team,” Arians said,
”and that’s probably the dumbest 30 minutes of football that I’ve
Philip Rivers completed 10 of 18 passes for 71 yards with an
interception. Arizona’s Carson Palmer was 12 of 23 for 122 yards
and a TD.
”This is the way we like to play week in and week out, with all
three phases making plays and doing their job to the b est of their
ability,” McCoy said.
Arizona’s problems began at the end of its first possession when
Darrell Stuckey blocked Dave Zastudil’s punt and the Chargers
recovered at the Arizona 34. But a false start penalty pushed San
Diego back, and Nick Novak’s 51-yard field goal try was no
After a Cardinals three-and-out, San Diego went 92 yards in 12
plays, using up 6:51 of the first quarter. Mathews dived over the
middle into the end zone, the first points allowed by Arizona’s
first-team defense in the preseason. The drive featured an
unnecessary roughness penalty against the Cardinals’ Ronald
Early in the second quarter, Arizona rookie Tyrann Mathieu hit
Rivers’ arm as he threw and the ball popped into the air. Jasper
Brinkley intercepted and lateraled to Patrick Peterson, giving the
Cardinals the ball at their 47. The Cardinals drove to the
Chargers’ 8-yard line, but on third-and-goal, Rob Housler dropped
Palmer’s pass in the end zone. Then Kwame Geathers blocked Dan
Carpenter’s 26-yard field goal try.
The wild second touchdown came a short time later.
The third pass interference penalty of the game against Arizona
cornerback Jerraud Powers put the ball at the Cardinals’ 1. Mathews
went over the middle, but the ball popped free. Cardinals safety
Rashad Johnson picked it up but, in an ill-advised move, lateraled
to Sam Acho.
Acho was hit by Antonio Gates and again the ball popped in the
air. Another San Diego tight end, John Phillips, grabbed it and
returned it 3 yards for the score to make it 14-0.
”It’s not the conventional way to score,” Rivers said. ”I
don’t know if I’ve seen a play like that in a long time.”
A challenge by McCoy backfired and set up Arizona’s
Palmer threw over the middle to Andre Roberts, who dropped the
ball. But McCoy challenged that it was a fumble, and indeed it was.
However, officials ruled that Roberts, not the Chargers, recovered
at the San Diego 16. On the next play, Palmer threw to Michael
Floyd for the only touchdown for Arizona’s first-team offense in
The Chargers also scored on Fozzy Whittaker’s 5-yard run and
Novak’s 50-yard field goal.
Cooper, the seventh pick overall out of North Carolina, had been
a starter virtually since he arrived in Arizona.
”You just feel sorry for him, being a rookie and this only
being his third preseason game,” teammate Larry Fitzgerald said.
”He’s a big part of who we’re going to be and our identity moving
forward, not only for this year but for years to come. You feel
really bad for him.”
Ken Whisenhunt, fired as Arizona head coach after last season,
returned to University of Phoenix Stadium as the Chargers’
-Cardinals NT Dan Williams hurt his right ankle on the
double-fumble touchdown play and did not return. He was out earlier
in camp with knee and ankle injuries.
-Chargers CB Johnny Patrick left in the first half with a
-Housler also left the game, with a right ankle injury.
AP NFL site: http://pro32.ap.org
Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx