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Chargers Record First Win of Mike McCoy Era
The San Diego Chargers recorded the first win of the Mike McCoy era in impressive fashion, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 24-7.
The Cardinals started the game with the ball but the Bolts defense forced them to punt. On the attempt, Darrell Stuckey blocked the Dave Zastudil attempt, giving the Bolts the ball in Arizona territory. After a three-and-out, Nick Novak missed a 51-yard attempt, giving Arizona the ball at the Arizona 39-yard line. After forcing a three-and-out, Philip Rivers and company took over at their own eight-yard line. Number 17 then orchestrated a picture-perfect drive, marching 92 yards down the field on 12 plays over 6:51, culminating in gritty one-yard Ryan Mathews TD plunge. With that, San Diego led 7-0 after the first 15 minutes of play.
After exchanging punts on three consecutive series, Keenan Allen had a nifty 44-yard punt return, setting the Bolts up at the Cardinals 46-yard line. Unfortunately, Rivers was hit as he released a pass a few plays later, and the ball floated into the air directly to the Cardinals’ Jasper Brinkley for the interception. Carson Palmer drove the home team down the field, but the Chargers stopped them at the goal-line, forcing a field goal attempt. Once again the special teams came up big, as Kwame Geathers blocked the Dan Carpenter chip-shot to preserve the seven-point lead. Taking over at their own 20-yard line, Rivers took command of the offense again, marching the team down to within the one-yard line. As Mathews tried to soar into the end zone, the ball was punched loose. Arizona recovered, but as they tried to lateral it, Antonio Gates popped it loose into the waiting arms of John Phillips who walked in for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Dwight Freeney closed out the half by sacking Carson Palmer with a vicious hit.
Charlie Whitehurst and the second-string came in to start the second half. Fozzy Whittaker picked up a pair of first downs against Arizona’s first-team defense, but the drive stalled near midfield and the Chargers punted. The Cardinals' first team offense went up against San Diego’s second-string defense and scored their first points of the game. Carson Palmer found Michael Floyd for a 16-yard TD strike, cutting the Bolts lead to 14-7. The Chargers came right back though, sparked by a Ladarius Green 57-yard catch and run. On the Cardinals next position, D.J. Smith dislodged the ball with a jarring hit, and it fell into the waiting arms of Andrew Gachkar for the interception. After a quick first down, the Chargers attempted their second 50-plus yard field goal of the game, and this time Novak drilled the 50-yarder for the 24-7 lead. A Thomas Keiser sack forced Arizona to punt and the Chargers took over once again, this time with Brad Sorensen under center as the quarter came to an end.
The rookie quarterback connected with Robert Meachem for a first down on third down on the first play of the fourth, but after a penalty the team was forced to punt. The Chargers defense held tight at midfield and forced the Cardinals to punt. The Cardinals made another attempt to march down the field going for it on 4th down , but were stopped short by the Chargers defense. The Chargers took over on downs right before the two minute warning. Enderle took a knee on the next three downs to wind the clock down to zero.
The Arizona Cardinals had just put seven points on the board to cut the Chargers lead to 14-7 when Charlie Whitehurst and the offense responded in resilient fashion. They orchestrated a seven-play, 80-yard drive in 2:09, culminating in a five-yard touchdown run by Fozzy Whittaker. The score was set up by a 57-yard catch and spring up the left sideline by Ladarius Green. By going back up by 14 points, 21-7, the Chargers took back command of the game.
It was Over When…
Nick Novak’s 50-yard kick gave the Chargers a three-score cushion toward the end of the third quarter, taking whatever wind Arizona had out of their sails. The Cardinals were never able to recover.
Play of the Game
It’s the type of play that Dwight Freeney has made countless times over his career, and is why many believe he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer. On the last play of the first half, Freeney put a spin move on the Cardinals’ left tackle that left him flat on his back. Number 93 then turned on the jets and crushed Carson Palmer with a bone-rattling hit.
Stat of the Game
Kwame Geathers blocked a field goal midway through the second quarter. The last time the Chargers blocked a field goal in the regular season occurred when Adrian Dingle blocked a Jets field goal on November 3, 2002.
“This is what the game’s all about. This is what we do it for. The difference in the locker room, the reaction and the feeling in the locker room is the greatest feeling in the world. This is what we do. This is what we work every week (for). The coaches spend endless hours in the office. The players work all year long and all training camp long to win football games. That’s what we’re all paid to do. Dean Spanos, he wants to win. And that’s what we’re all about here.” – Head Coach Mike McCoy
“A win is a win. They don’t all count, but they all matter. We can learn from this. We can grow from this. And we can get a little confidence. The thing that really excited me, and the entire team, was the energy that we came out with. We had a real bite to us. A real fight about us. And that needs to be recreated in practice and games down the line. And that just has to be a weekly thing. If we do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance” – Center Nick Hardwick
“I don’t care what it is, it feels good to win. We’re all competitors out here. I don’t care if it’s tic-tac-toe, checkers or whatever we’re doing, we want to win. And that’s how we like to do it.” – Outside Linebacker Dwight Freeney
“No matter what you say about the preseason, that it doesn’t impact the record or that there’s nothing on the line, that’s wrong. We’re out there competing and as a professional player you want to go out there, execute and win. So to go out there, get a complete win and play well in all three phases – that’s what it’s going to take for us to win a championship.” – Safety Eric Weddle
Odds and Ends
In his first game of the preseason, Brandon Taylor tallied a team-high five tackles.
The Chargers were 8-for-15 on third downs, converting at a 53-percent clip.
The rushing attack eclipsed the 100-yard barrier yet again, totaling 127 yards on the ground.
Ryan Mathews led the way with 57 yards on 14 carries (4.1 ypg) and one touchdown.
San Diego won the time of possession battle 31:55 to 28:05. Read