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.
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