Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert, wide receiver DeAndre Carter and others after the Bolts Week 12 road win over the Cardinals:
Carter's career-high day
Another week, another close game for the Chargers.
But the Bolts were able to leave Arizona with a win, which snapping a two-game skid in the process.
With plenty of big plays and performances to go around, Sunday afternoon was another game where wide receiver DeAndre Carter flashed — in more ways than one.
Carter hauled in a career-high in receptions (seven) and receiving yards (73) in Week 12, establishing himself as more than the returner he was brought in to be.
Even with Keenan Allen back in the mix, Carter has more than taken advantage of the opportunities presented to him.
"A lot of it just comes down to opportunities," Carter said about his season so far. "A lot of guys in the league, they're in my position that you know, just waiting for an opportunity to show what you can do.
"I'm just grateful," Carter added. "God blessed me with this opportunity and then the coaches, Justin having confidence in putting me out there and Justin throwing me the ball."
The highlight of his big offensive day came in the second quarter, as Carter found himself wide open and walked in a 33-yard touchdown reception.
"Probably one of the easiest in my career," Carter said with a chuckle. "Nobody guarded me. So, 'Hey, Justin, great job finding me.'"
But that's not to say that Carter isn't still a weapon on special teams.
Perhaps the biggest play of his career-high day came on the final punt return of the game.
With the Cardinals punting the ball back to the Chargers at the two-minute warning, Carter provided a big boost to what would be the go-ahead touchdown drive.
Fielding the ball on his own 37, Carter returned the punt 20 yards down the right side of the field and gave his offense a chance to start the final drive in plus territory.
"We set up, had a good call from [Special Teams Coordinator Ryan] Ficken," Carter said about the punt return. "Set up a wall return. When I called it, I honestly thought we were going to the house, but they had some good coverage. We had a good return, set the field up for a two-minute drive.
"Great job by our punt return team blocking it up like that. Easy for me to do my job," Carter added.
With an added five yards due to a Cardinals penalty, the Chargers only had to 38 yards to get the game winning score.
According to Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, that play coupled with other crucial special teams plays down the stretch proved to be massive in the victory.
"I thought our teams were really critical in this game I felt like that was a huge play," Staley said. "I also thought the punt to back them up there at the very end ... you pin them inside, it's kind of that fourth-and 6, do you go for it? Do you not? It just really felt like us pinning them down there would give us more breathing room down there, had confidence in our defense and that punt was huge to pin him down there.
"I think what we executed at the end of the game, that mortar kick to kill some time off the clock. We executed that situation well, so again got to continue to have a winning edge for us," Staley added.
Get an inside look at the Chargers celebrating their Week 12, 25-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium!
Bandy's makes heads up play
Seemingly nothing was going right for the Chargers offense in almost 18 minutes of play.
In the teams first three offensive drives, they were able to muster just one first down. Already down by 10 early in the second quarter, things nearly reached a disastrous level.
After a short pass over the middle from Herbert to wide receiver Joshua Palmer, a hit by a Cardinals defender jarred the ball loose.
With the ball on the ground, wide receiver Michael Bandy, who was behind the play, quickly rushed to the ball, dove and was able to recover it to keep it with the Bolts.
Initially ruled as a recovery by Arizona, the play was reversed following a replay review.
"It was one of those things where it goes to replay and you're kind of at the mercy of the replay," Staley said after the game. "But that's why you hustle to the ball.
"That's kind of what we preach on offense. Just to make sure you're cover every play," Staley added.
The recovery allowed the drive to continue, eventually capped off by wide receiver Keenan Allen's first touchdown reception of the season.
A heads up play by Bandy loomed large in hindsight, as giving the ball back to the Cardinals already down by two possessions could've dug the Chargers a deeper hole that they might not have been able to come back from.
"Real big," Carter said about Bandy's fumble recovery. "We needed that ball back. It would've been tough for us to come back from that. We did a great job getting on that ball."
The awareness by Bandy to jump and recover the ball is something that is consistently preached on offense according to Staley, as the pursuit saved an offensive possession for the Bolts.
"You talk about pursuit on defense, but we talk about pursuit on offense," Staley said. "Make sure you're covering the ball carrier.
"Says a lot about him that we were able to get that ball back and keep it out of harm's way," Staley added.
Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Week 12 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals
Offensive line holds it down despite injuries
The story of the Chargers season thus far has been players stepping up due to injuries — and the offensive line is one of the prime examples of it.
After center Corey Linsley left the game in the second quarter with a concussion, Will Clapp stepped in and finished the game at center.
The second quarter injuries hit the offensive line hard, as right tackle Trey Pipkins III, who has been battling a knee injury for a number of weeks, also went out of the game.
Foster Sarell, who was signed to the active roster on Saturday, stepped into Pipkins position and eventually finished off the game there after Pipkins tried to give it a go in the third quarter.
Throwing in two back up offensive lineman into the fire against one of the most aggressive teams in the league could be overwhelming, but for the Chargers offensive line group, the way they prepare have them ready for whatever situation may arise.
"I mean it's kind of the mindset of our room," left tackle Jamaree Salyer said after the game. "Just kind of come in, capitalizing on your opportunity. Obviously, I'm an example of that.
"We never really stress like who's coming in. We just know we're ready to play,"
The Cardinals entered the week blitzing on opponents drop backs at the third-highest rate in the league, so the Chargers offensive line knew they would have to prepare for a lot of pressure throughout the afternoon.
Even with a new combination of offensive lineman, Herbert knew that they would have to adjust to what Arizona threw at them, and was confident in everybody doing what was necessary to pull out the win.
"I think it's resilient," Herbert said. "Kind of like I mentioned earlier, they brought some things that they hadn't shown all year so we had to be ready for that and we had to talk about that on the sideline.
"We go down a center. Will Clapp steps in and does a great job analyzing the 'Mike' and we've got a lot of respect for that guy, so it was great to see from him as well," Herbert later added.
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