The Los Angeles Chargers fell to the Arizona Cardinals 24-17 in their preseason opener on Saturday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Cardale Jones started at quarterback in place of Philip Rivers, who did not dress. Wide receiver Keenan Allen, defensive end Joey Bosa and cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams were also among the starters who did not play.
Arizona struck first on an eight-play, 45-yard drive that included a pair of 14-yard rushes from All-Pro running back David Johnson. Rookie running back Chase Edmonds punched in a touchdown from two yards out to make the score 7-0 Cardinals after a Phil Dawson extra point.
The Chargers responded with a 12-play drive that ended with 45-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis to make the score 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Austin Ekeler was the bright spot of a scoreless second quarter. The second-year running back racked up 64 total yards, including a 39-yard reception from Geno Smith that brought the ball to the Cardinals' 25-yard line. Five plays later, Sturgis missed a 41-yard field goal wide left.
The Cardinals added to their lead in the third quarter after linebacker Jeremy Cash scooped a Derek Watt fumble and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-3 after another Dawson extra point.
Los Angeles answered with a 47-yard touchdown strike from Smith to wide receiver Geremy Davis. On the Cards' next possession, quarterback Mike Glennon was picked off by undrafted rookie cornerback Brandon Facyson. The Chargers rode that momentum into the fourth quarter, scoring on a six-yard touchdown run by another undrafted rookie: running back Detrez Newsome.
Arizona went ahead for good, though, on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Charles Kanoff to wide receiver Bryce Williams. Kicker Matt McCrane later made a 28-yard field goal.
Jones finished the game 6-of-12 for 50 yards. Smith went 14-of-23 for 218 yards, one touchdown and one interception before giving way to Nic Shimonek. Davis led the team in receiving yards with 88. Rookie safety Derwin James made his much-anticipated NFL debut in the second quarter. He finished the game with two tackles.
The Chargers committed 15 penalties to the Cardinals' 11.
REMEMBERING FAYE SPANOS
Prior to the game there was a moment of silence for Faye Spanos, the wife of Chargers owner Alex Spanos who passed away last Tuesday at the age of 92. Players also wore a pink decal with the name "Faye" on the back of their helmets in commemoration.
The Chargers are back at Jack Hammett Sports Complex for an open training camp practice on Monday, August 13 at 10 a.m. The team's preseason home opener is on Saturday, August 18 at 7 p.m. against the Seattle Seahawks at StubHub Center.
View the best of the Chargers as they take on the Arizona Cardinals in their first preseason game.