Hey, It's The Preseason: Chargers Score Late, Beat Cardinals 34-31

The reserve defense crumbles late, but lots of positives can be taken from the loss.

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Arizona Cardinals Preseason Loss: Progress Was Made, Mistakes As Well

The Arizona Cardinals fell to the San Diego Chargers in their third game of the preseason. It was a good test of the Cardinals against one of the NFL's top teams and despite the loss the team was pleased with their performance. Mistakes were made on both sides of the ball but there was no real heart break over the final winning drive by the Chargers to steal the win.

"It was a good game," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I thought overall our guys fought. We did a lot of good things in there tonight which is good to see, especially in the first half with our first units."

Whisenhunt and quarterback Kevin Kolb were both pleased with the progress made in getting the offense moving and making big plays. While a lot of attention goes to the 80-yard touch down completion to Larry Fitzgerald (a play that was called at the line by Kolb based on the defense he saw), Kolb was most pleased with a different drive.

In the second quarter, the Cardinals started on their 20-yard line after a Chargers kick off. Kolb proceeded to lead the team on an 80-yard drive with seven plays that resulted in a touch down for Andre Roberts off a trick reverse play. Kolb went 3-3 on that drive with completions to Early Doucet (19 yards), Todd Heap (12 yards) and Larry Fitzgerald (9 yards) and a six-yard run from Beanie Wells to start it all off.

"That one was the most gratifying. That one we came to the sideline and everybody looked at each other and said, 'Alright, this is the kind of team we need to be.'

"The shots are nice. We want a couple of those per game, but that's when you're whipping somebody. When Beanie (Wells) gets involved. O-line's pounding them. We're dinking and dunking them, taking a shot here or there. That's the kind of offense we have to have and that's my style of play. Hopefully, we can keep building on that then we'll get in the tournament and make a run in the playoffs."

Kolb was well aware that he started the game 3-8 and while he admitted the coaching staff thought he was a little "jacked up" before the game, he chalked it up to miscommunication. "That's going to happen, then you are going to go 8-for-9. I don't worry about that. The biggest key for us is starting early and then when we get in that big red zone, 40 and in, making it count."

The Cardinals finished with eight penalties for 58 yards. The emphasis moving forward offensively is cleaning up the mistakes. There's a lot of confidence on this team that with a little more time they will be a very effective scoring machine.

Defensively, Whisenhunt pointed out two tipped balls that ended up being caught by the Chargers. Without seeing the film again, the feeling was that was more luck than mistake. The stand outs on the defense in this game were two rookies, cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive tackle David Carter.

Carter had an exceptional game in the first half controlling the line. He looked more mobile and more aggressive than Dan Williams and very well could be pushing for that starting job.

"I see a good young player. I'm excited about him," Whisenhunt said about Carter, a sixth-round pick out of UCLA.

Patrick Peterson got his name in lights for the first time in his career as a Cardinal. It likely won't be the last. He explained his interception and return for a touch down.

"It was third down, I was in a trap technique with the corners and the nickelback. It so happened that I turned back around and the number two guy I was supposed to be trapping continued going up field so coach always told me if you don't see where you opportunity is, where your responsibility is, look for other work and that's what I did. I read (Philip) Rivers eyes and come across an interception."

Peterson said that later in the game during a timeout Rivers asked him, "Where the freak did you come from?" On the return, Peterson said he was screaming the whole way in. At the same time, he had thought his first touchdown would come from a punt return. He almost broke one of those tonight as well. As he tells it, he was brought down by a guy on the ground and just needed to be more athletic on that play. Can this guy be any more athletic? That's scary.

Defensive end Calais Campbell said after the game that he felt like the Cardinals won the game since they held the lead with the starters in. Overall, he was pleased with the way the defense played.

"They are a great offense so you know, I feel like we did a good job containing them. We gave up a couple of touchdowns. I wish we could have held them out, but we're not really running a lot of our plays, so I really feel like when we put our whole package together we can go out there and shut down any team."

Injury Report

Cornerback Greg Toler left the game in the first quarter with a sprained left knee. An MRI will be conducted on Sunday. Wide receiver Max Komar also suffered a knee injury that will need to be evaluated further. Running back Alfonso Smith never got a chance to get into the game due to a hamstring injury.

For more discussion about this game, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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San Diego Chargers vs. Arizona Cardinals, Halftime: Kevin Kolb, Philip Rivers Trading Blows

After taking a 17-3 lead in the first quarter, the Arizona Cardinals continued to work hard against the San Diego Chargers in preseason action on Saturday night. The effort paid off, and at the half the Cardinals lead 24-17.

The Chargers started the scoring in the second quarter, as Philip Rivers connected with Antonio Gates on a 13-yard touchdown pass. At the half, Rivers completed 17/24 passes for 194 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

The Cardinals responded to the Gates touchdown with an effective drive, as Kevin Kolb completed passes to Early Doucet, Todd Heap and Larry Fitzgerald to set up a bit of trickery.

Situated at the Chargers 34-yard line, Kolb handed off the ball to Beanie Wells, who flipped the pigskin to Andre Roberts. This classic reverse play yielded a huge result, as Roberts broke free and scampered to paydirt to give the Cardinals a 24-10 lead.

Back on offense, the Chargers just wouldn't go away. On their final drive of the second quarter, Rivers threw the ball eight times before finally handing it off to Mike Tolbert for a rushing attempt. 

Rivers favored Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd, and between the two receivers they picked up 126 yards in the first half, including a four-yard out route by Floyd for a touchdown with only :24 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Both teams have shown a lot of offensive firepower, and neither looks to be ready to back down. Kolb should be back for at least one drive in the third quarter.

For more on the Cardinals, visit Revenge of the Birds.

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Arizona Cardinals Bomb Chargers 17-3 In First Quarter; Larry Fitzgerald And Patrick Peterson Score

The Arizona Cardinals certainly made an impression in their first quarter in front of the home crowd at University of Phoenix stadium. Kevin Kolb looked a bit shaky in his first two series but still managed to engineer a three-point scoring drive. Kolb followed that up with an 80-yard touch down strike to a streaking Larry Fitzgerald. Rookie Patrick Peterson immediately followed up one big play with a 36-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

After the first period the Cardinals led 17-3 and the local fans loved it. Here's how the quarter unfolded.

The Cardinals started off with a couple of nice offensive plays in their first home possession of the 2011 NFL Season only to see the drive stall with three very poorly executed plays. Kevin Kolb got things started with a nice 19-yard completion to Larry Fitzgerald on the first play from scrimmage and then followed that with a 10-yard rush from Beanie Wells.

From there, the wheels feel off as Kolb and Early Doucet weren't in the same book, let alone on the same page. Kolb and Wells then got confused on a rush play that ended up going nowhere which was followed by a drive-ending incomplete shovel pass to Wells while Kolb was scrambling. 

The Cardinals defense did well on their first series holding the Chargers to four plays and 22 yards before forcing a punt.

On their next drive, Kolb looked even shakier with several poorly thrown balls but the Cardinals were able to take advantage of a questionable pass interference call to advance 21-yards. The only well thrown ball on the drive was a 15-yard pass to Todd Heap who got a nice cheer from the crowd for his first pass back in Arizona. 

The drive managed to produce three points off a 36-yard Jay Feely field goal after going 48 yards in eight plays in 3:11.

After a long return gave the Chargers good field position, they went 27 yards on seven plays which put them in position for a 52-yard field goal.

The Cardinals came right back and on their second play Kolb found Fitzgerald in an open seam down the middle for an 80-yard TD catch. The first for Kolb in a Cardinals uniform. It certainly looked like the Charger blew an assignment in zone coverage. 

After cornerback Greg Toler left the game with a left knee sprain, rookie Patrick Peterson stepped in and grabbed his first interception of his career and with his speed was into the end zone in a flash. 

Kevin Kolb finished the quarter 3-9 for 114 yards. That total was obviously inflated by the one long TD bomb to Fitz.

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