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The Cardinals defense suffered another blow with the season-ending injury to CB Greg Toler.
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."
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.
You can call the preseason game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers a success. The outcome was a disappointment but Kevin Kolb connected with Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown in the first quarter. However, Billy Volek hit Bryan Walters with three seconds left in the game to give the Chargersa 34-31 victory.
On addition to the Kolb touchdown pass, first round pick Patrick Peterson also left an impression on the game. He had an impressive punt return early and then scored a touchdown on a 34-yard interception return. He read the play, came off of his assignment and took the ball away, showing his incredible speed as he scored.
Arizona had a 31-20 fourth quarter lead, but a William Powell fumble that was recovered in the end zone by San Diego and the winning drive by Volek were the difference in the game.
Thank goodness it is just preseason football.
Kolb played into the third quarter and finished 11-20 for 205 yards and a TD. He was not intercepted. Beanie Wells ran the ball 10 times for 63 yards, looking every bit the part he wants to be and that everyone expects of him.
Larry Fitzgerald had three receptions for 108 yards.
The other highlight of the game was a 34-yard reverse by Andre Roberts that went for a TD.
Defensively, Arizona did not get a single sack in the game and, as a result, the coverage in the secondary suffered. Some plays were made, but Phillip Rivers was able to do what he does best -- move the ball effectively down the field.
NFL rosters must be trimmed down to 80 players by Tuesday, so the play of some will be considered.
The Cardinals play their final preseason game on Thursday in Glendale against the Denver Broncos.
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.
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.
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.
Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver DeMarco Sampson may not play against the San Diego Chargers, according to Darren Urban. Sampson appears to be dealing with a hamstring injury and is out testing his hamstring less than three hours before the start of the preseason's Week 3 Chargers-Cardinals game.
Sampson has played well in the Cardinals' previous two preseason games, leading all Cardinals receivers with 115 total yards. He caught two passes for 47 yards in a 24-18 win against the Oakland Raiders and hauled in three grabs for 68 yards in a 28-20 loss to the Green Bay Packer.
Those stats aren't to say that Sampson is the best receiver on the Cardinals. Clearly, that honor belongs to Larry Fitzgerald. What the stats do say, though, is that Sampson is playing very efficiently and making the most out of his opportunities this preseason.
Sampson will certainly want to continue his string of solid receiving games against the Chargers. If, however, his hamstring keeps nagging him until game time, the coaching staff may have him sit this one out and watch from the sidelines.
The Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers kick off tonight's Week 3 preseason game at 7:00. A lot of attention will be focused on quarterback Kevin Kolb, who will make his home debut with the Cardinals and who figures to get a lot of snaps.
The player who could be a better barometer for the Cardinals' success this season, however, may be Beanie Wells. This will be the third-year running back's first game as an undisputed, featured back.
The Cardinals came out of the NFL lockout with three useable running backs on their roster: Tim Hightower, Ryan Williams and Wells. Tim Hightower has since been traded to the Washington Redskins, and rookie Ryan Williams- who flashed potential in training camp and at certain points of the Cardinals' first two preseason games- suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.
Those two developments leave Wells as the unquestioned workhorse. He was very good in his rookie season (back in 2009), when he racked up 793 yards on a 4.5 yards-per-carry average and seven touchdowns. As a result, lots of people (especially fantasy football owners) expected big things out of Wells last year.
Wells didn't deliver, recording just 397 yards on a 3.4 yards-per-carry average and two touchdowns. Many believed that he would not see much action this season with his mediocore 2010 campaign and with the presences of Hightower and Williams.
Wells, on the other hand, will get a second chance to impress and take over the running game in Arizona. Let's see what he makes of it tonight against the Chargers.
The preseason game tonight between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers is as close to a regular football game as fans can get in the preseason. Being Week 3 of the preseason, it is typically when teams play their first stringers the longest. The fourth and final game is usually dedicated to the reserves and making final roster decisions.
Such is the case tonight. Kevin Kolb and the first team offense for the Cards are expected to play into the third quarter. With John Skelton out with an ankle sprain, we will get to see Rich Bartel with the second team and the newcomer Brodie Croyle run with the thirds.
Here is what you should be watching for as the two teams play tonight:
Further improvement by Kevin Kolb and the Arizona offense
While Kolb has been okay, the offense has improved from one week to the next. The first team offense, in five series, has scored two field goals on drives over more than 10 plays and got down to the goalline in another (but was unsuccessful at punching the ball into the end zone). Watch to see if the offense can continue to maintain sustained drives. While it is not crucial in the big picture, for fans it will be very good if Kolb can get the team a touchdown or two.
Improved pass blocking from Levi Brown and Brandon Keith
The regular season game last year against the Chargers was when Brandon Keith became a turnstile for Shaun Phillips, who had three sacks in that game. Over the course of the season, it was apparent that Keith and Brown were one of the least effective tackle pairs at protecting their quarterback. Keith made improvements over the course of the season until he went down with an injury, but tonight we will see if they can keep the potent San Diego defense away from the Cardinals' new quarterback.
Focused running by Beanie Wells
With the trade that sent Tim Hightower to the Washington Redskins and the injury to rookie Ryan Williams, Beanie is now unequivocally "the guy." The success of the running game begins and ends with him, and that is what he wants. He was criticized for not lowering his shoulder pads and driving forward for tough yards in the preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders, but "ran angry" in last week's game against the Green Bay Packers. Watch to see if he will continue with that angry intensity while running, looking not only to find holes.and get through them, but also plow through defenders when the holes disappear.
Pass rushing success continued
Against the Green Bay Packers, the first team defense was able to get to Aaron Rodgers. Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell both had sacks. San Diego typically does a good job of protecting Phillip Rivers, but for the Cardinals to succeed defensively, they must get pressure. O'Brien Schofield had success as well, getting a sack and forcing a fumble as well. He needs to build on last week's success, as well.
The performance of "bubble" players on the roster
Rosters must be trimmed down to 80 players by August 30 and down to the final 53-man roster by September 3. As a result, players that are question marks need to make an impact now to either make the Cardinals squad or get noticed by other teams looking to add players to their teams late. Who will be those guys? Tune in to the game to see who.
The Arizona Cardinals open the 2011 NFL season at University of Phoenix with the first of three home games over the next 15 days. It begins with a Week 3 preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. The game starts at 7:00 p.m. local time and will be broadcast in the Phoenix metro market on ABC Channel 15 TV. We have all the traffic and parking information you will need if you are one of the many people who helped give the Cardinals their 54th consecutive sellout at U o P Stadium.
A traffic advisory has been posted for Saturday by the Arizona Department of Transportation that will impact fans headed to University of Phoenix Stadium from the Northeast Valley. If you are driving in from North Scottsdale and plan on using the north loop of 101 freeway, take note of these closures:
Once fans do make it to the stadium, parking lots will open at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. For all the parking lot details, see this parking map. Gates open to the stadium 90 minutes before kickoff which means 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Great Lawn will open for pregame tailgating and other outdoor fun four hours prior to kickoff at 3:00 PM.
While the stadium roof will be closed which makes for a more comfortable experience inside, the weather is forecast to be (you guessed it) hot. Expect for 112 degrees when you arrive for the game and temps hovering around 100 degrees when you leave to go home. Bring water, people. This is no hurricane but that heat is not playing around.
While the game is sold out, there are still tickets available on the secondary market for very reasonable prices. You can get in to see the Cardinals vs. Chargers for as little as $12. Click here for more ticket deals.
The Arizona Cardinals host the San Diego Chargers for Week 3 NFL preseason action. Expect to see at least two full quarters of Kevin Kolb running his new team.
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