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Several questions remained, stemming from continued roster battles and injuries to Iupati and Peters. Would the OL with Larson in for Iupati protect our QB's? How would the two Johnson boys look at RB? How would the two rooks (Gunter and X Williams) do at DT? Would the roster-battle at WR begin to sort itself out? Would Logan Thomas stitch two consecutive stellar performances back to back?
Walk-off 47-yard FG Nips Cardinals..
The Bottom Line:
Memo to NFL Network: Why the bleep would you skip the opening drive of the first quarter (with all the starters in there) in favor of completing the meaningless final quarter of the Eagle game that preceded it? That's what happened last night. Plus early-on - the DirecTV DVR in my living room blacked out the video signal and only aired the audio. (Talk about living in the Dark Ages)! To add insult to injury, the last three minutes or so of the game was trimmed from the recording (because schedued time alotted for the game was over at the scheduled 3-hour mark). What I therefore have to report this morning are bits and pieces of the game I was able to watch interspersed with audio-only coverage, game-log and post-game coverage from the media and fans.
From what I could gather, the ongoing theme of the evening should be: "MIssed Opportunities" - i.e. passes dropped, an awful interception, field goals and XP's missed, horrendous officiating etc. Palmer continued to look crisp. So did our #1 defense. Stanton had that one horrible throw. Sims looked better than Thomas. (If we continue to give up 6 sacks a game, we may need all four QB's before the season is over). Ellington couldn't hang onto thrown balls in a couple of tight situations. Our receivers got pushed around and didn't hang onto enough contested passes. We've lost 2 in a row. Forget about it being only preseason; losing sucks)!
Cards drew first blood in the first quarter on a 17-yard Palmer-to-Jon Brown TD completion. Palmer was sacked twice in the first two Cardinal possessions.
Cards received. Golden returned the KO to our own 19. An 11 yard run by Ellington and a 9-yard sack of Palmer were high and low-lights of a 6-play Cardinal possession that ended with a punt from their own 22 that, with a SD penalty that gave the Chargers the ball at their own 17. No Rivers; Clemons behind center. Chargers picked up a quick first down and then punted four plays later from their own 37. Punt was returned to the Card 20. On the first play from scrimmage, Palmer got sacked again (for minus-8), but completions to JJ Nelson (for +57 yds) and to the Smokester (for 14 yds and then a 17 yard TD) put the Cards ahead. XP attempt was aborted. Cards 6 - SD 0.
TB on the KO. SD looked sloppy on offense and sandwiched two 3 & outs around a Cardinal 3 & out. Stanton in. We got to see a lot of D Johnson at RB. He reminds me of a slightly less explosive version of OJ Anderson when Ottis was a rookie - nice size and strong enough to break tackles but also with a little bit of juke. Quarter ended with the Cards reaching the Charger 19.
1st Quarter Score: Cards 6 - Chargers 0.
Cards reached the SD 10, where Catanzaro's 28-yard FG attempt was good. Drive used up 16 plays and 8:12 (amazing what a running attack can do for you). Cards 9 - Chargers 0.
TB on the KO. Chargers made it to their own 34 (the final play being garbage yards on a 12-yard dump off to K Allen). Cards returned the punt to their own 33. On the second play from scrimmage, Stanton tried to pop fly a misdirection pass in the flat intended for Nikklas, but failed to see the SD defender (Connor) poised to jump the route. Interception was returned to the Cardinal 12. Two plays later, Oliver ran it in from the three. XP was no good. Cards 9 - Chargers 6.
TB on the KO. Cards mounted an 11-play drive which imploded when Stanton was sacked for the second and third time on the drive (once for minus-9 and another for minus-6 ). Butler punted 39-yards into the end zone. Drive used up 5:08 of clock time. Cards then let the Chargers run off 9 plays resulting in a 53-yard Lembo FG with 0:02 left to tie the game at halftime. Cards 9 - Chargers 9.
First Half Score: Chargers 9 - Cards 9.
Chargers received. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, Sorenson's pass for Phillips was picked off by Jones-Quartey and returned to the SD 29. Thomas in for Stanton. K Williams in at RB. Cards made it to the Charger 15 where the drive stalled and Catanzaro's 38-yard FG attempt was wide-right. SD then mounted a 7:13 fifteen-play TD drive capped by a one-yard TD run by Smith. Chargers 16 - Cards 9.
Sims in for Thomas. He engineered a 16-play 8:09 TD drive resulting on a Grice one-yard run to narrow the SD lead. K Williams returned the KO to the Cardinal 24. Cards went 3 & out,. Punt was returned to the SD 35. SD made it to the Card 22 as the quarter ended.
Third Quarter Score: Chargers 16 - Cards 9.
Three plays later, Lambo's 43 yard FG was good.. Chargers 19 - Cards 9.
Sims in at QB. He engineered a 15-play 8:09 drive resulting in a one-yard TD run by Grice. Chiefs 19 - Cards 16.
- 6:06 left. Chargers returned the KO to their own 23 and went 3 & out. 5:32 left. An 8-yard loss on a toss to Grice derailed the drive at the SD 19 where Catanzaro was good from 37 to tie the score. . Chargers 19 - Cards 19.
- 2:51 left. The Cards allowed the Chargers to reel off 11 plays, ending in a successful Lambo 47-yarder to win it on the final play.
Final Score: Chargers 22 - Cards 19.
Most team stats are meaningless in preseason, but - as always - there are a few worth noting:
Thomas went 0 for 4. Sims was 8 for 13. (That ought to get the QB controversy folks buzzing).
Catanzaro missed a FG and an XP.
Stanton threw the only pick (& a really ugly one at that). .
Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: . (Runs: 29/Pass: 36).
No outstanding KO or punt returns of note (though Nelson's 18-yarder was pretty exciting)
Clemens (who)? led the team in tackles with 5 followed by Mauro with 4.
Card QB's were sacked 6 times (Card defenders racked up zero, zilch zowie sacks).
Cards were (2 for 5) 40% in the Red Zone (SD was 2 for 2).
Time of Possession: Cards 34:18 - SD .25:42
Card defense gave up an average of 2.0 per rushing play (Card rushers averaged a meh 3.3)
Palmer survived a couple of sacks to look good engineering that one TD drive.
JJ Nelson is more than just straight-ahead blazing speed - he has the COD skills and quicks to bring your heart into your mouth everytime he touches thre ball.
David Johnson has OJ Anderson's size and strength (& some but not all of OJ's speed and quicks).
BA singled out bubble guys Cariel Brooks, Josh Mauro, Phillip Sims and Alani Fua as players who flashed.
No significant injuries.
Jones-Quartey - When you see a player make a few bonehead plays, it takes a lot to reverse the negative image that continues to stick in your mind. Jones - Quartey had an ugly early performance in the KC game but then seemed to improve as the game wore on. He continued his upbeat performance yesterday, including the Cardinals' only pick.
The Dark Side
Game was a poster-child for "How to turn a "W" into a "L."
Missed XP and FG attempts - if the pattern continues, at least one of these will lose us one or more football games.
Amidst all the speculation that Humphreys was performing "beyond his years", he played like the rookie he is yesterday..
It wasn't that Logan Thomas played horribly; it was more that our hopes (that he would provide some evidence of consistent play by repeating his performance vs. KC) weren't realized. (i.e. he needed to continue to play lights out and he didn't)
Where are our TE's?
Where is our pass rush?
Losing winnable games can become a bad habit. Letting other teams mount 11 or 15 play drives is an equally bad habit
We're nearing cutdown time. Tough decisions. Central to many of these will be issues of potential, production and consistency (i.e. when do you keep the kid who occasionally - but not always - flashes breathtaking talent over the steadier kid who'll play the way yiou expect him to play after play/game after game)? No doubt we're going to lose some very impressive players, but the question of the preseason will be: "How much production will we get from the ones we keep? (To put it another way: "If you're Jaxon Shipley and you beat out, say, Brittan Golden for the #6 WR roster spot, you will have to prove to yourself, the fans and the coaching staff that their decision to keep you instead of Golden was the right one - that you're presence outweighs his absence").