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The Setup
Cards are coming off a disappointing loss to the Raiders. This week, they practiced in SD vs. the Chargers. Although they'll deny it, Coach Arians' hospitalization (diverticulitis) had to create some distraction. Chargers came off a 27 - 10 loss to the TItans.

Rivers didn't play. Fitz and Smokey didn't play. What's unclear going into Preseason Game are the priorities BA places on winning, on executing well, player development and teaching.

The Lede
Cards fail to execute/lose the "battle of the big plays"...

The Bottom Line:
The wheels started to come of the wagon when (on the second Card possession, Carson Palmer threw one of his patented "blind passes" - a screen behind the LOH. It was picked off by CB Brandon Flowers who took it 25 yards to the house. Then - on Drew Stanton's first series, he overthrew Nelson and was picked off by Jahleel Addae who returned it 61-yards to the Cardinal 9. The Cardinal defense - as they did all evening, kept the Chargers out of the end zone, but they were able to tack on 12 points on field goals. The Cardinal offense was barely able to avoid a shutout by giving Catanzaro the second opportunity to boot a field goal. Cards came out on the losing end 19 - 3.

If the objective was to win - well, the Cards are now 0 & 2. If it was to execute well, you could make the point that the defense held the SD offense to zero TD's. But on the flip side, our offense didn't put any TD's on the board either. Also, I can't recall the Cardinals - on either side of the ball - execute any big plays and tended to lose most jump ball battles. No doubt the game will give our younger backups game-experience while providing plenty of tape to teach from.

As for "players who flashed", I thought Carial Brooks had a pretty good game. Brandon Williams executed better than in Game #1. Jaron Brown had a couple of nice early catches. Barkley looked a bit more comfortable. and was a bit more effective than he was last week, but neither he or his receivers were on the good end of many big plays. JJ Nelson won few if any battles but was partly the victim of bad throws. Marqui Christian predictably had a few good moments (along with a couple of bad).

Game Recap
Palmer dug the Cards an early hole. Stanton dug it a bit deeper and the Chargers (who made few if any errors all evening) stacked up 4 FG's to build a 19 - 0 4Q lead. Cards finally put three on the board to stagger home a 19 - loser.

1st Quarter
  • Cards received. Ellington returned the KO to his own 21. Palmer sandwiched 2 incompletions around a two yard hookup with Floyd. Butler's punt was downed at the SD 35 for no gain. Clemens at QB. Mauro's sack of Clemens forced SD to go 3 & out. Punt was downed at the AZ 2. Two plays after he hit Jaron Brown for +23 yards, Palmer attempted a "blind" middle screen behind the line of scrimmage. He threw it right into the arms of Brandon Flowers who ran it in for a 25-yard Pick 6. San Diego 7 - Cards 0.

    TB on the KO. Palmer went 3 & out. Punt returned to the SD 17. Clemens picked up a 1st down but punted 3 plays later. Ellington returned the punt to his 25. Stanton in for Palmer. Four plays after hitting Jaron Brown for +17 yards, Stanton overthrew JJ Nelson and was picked off by Addae who ran it back 61 yards to the Cardinal 9. Cards held SD to 3 & out, and Lambo was good from 20-yards. San Diego 10 - Cards 0.

    TB on the KO. Johnson picked up 3 yards around LE to end the quarter.

    1st Quarter Score: Chargers 10- Cards 0.

2nd Quarter
  • Cards completed a 3 & out and Butler's punt was returned for no gain at the SD 22. Clemens then engineered a 13-play drive capped by a 33 yard Lambo FG. During the drive, C Brooks and Gunter forced a Benjamin fumble after an 11-yard catch. M Christian recovered, but call was reversed and the drive was sustained. Chargers 13 - Cards 0.

    TB on the KO. stanton moved the Cards to the SD 43 but was sacked for minus-8 and the Cards were forced to punt. Punt was fair caught at the SD 15. 3:45 till the half. Clemens led his team to the Cardinal 30 where the driver stalled, and Lambo booted another one - this time from 48. Chargers 16 - Cards 0.

    Ellington returned the KO to the Card 27. A 28-yard completion to Shipley (that would have put us close to FG range at the SD 45 with 0:05 left was reversed. Stanton took a knee. Half over.

First Half Score: Chargers 16 - Cards 0.

3rd Quarter
  • TB on the KO. Bercovici in for Clemens, He took the Chargers on a 10 play drive capped by a 50-yard Lambo FG. Chargers 19 - Cards 0.

    TB on the KO. Barkley in for Stanton. He led the Cards on a 12 play drive ending with zero points when Catanzaro was wide-left from 48. SD took over at their own 38 but was held to 3 & out. Punt was returned by Hubert to the AZ 10. Cards moved to their own 19 as the quarter ended

Third Quarter Score: Chargers 19 - Cards 0.

4th Quarter
  • Cards punted 2 plays later. Swanson's 52-yard punt was downed for no gain, but penalty pushed SD back to their oqn 12. SD punted on the 8th play of their possession. TB on the punt. Barkely led the Cardinal offense on a 10-play drive capped by the only Cardinal score of the game - a 52-yard FG by the Cat Man. Tight ends figured in the drive - Momah caught two passes of +15 each. G Christian grabbed one for 11-yards. Chargers 19 - Cards 3

    Chargers ran off 9 plays (including 3 knees( to end the game.

Final Score: Chargers 19 - Cards 3

Notable Game Stats.

  • Barkley was 10 for 15 (85 yards, 0 TD and 0 picks). Palmer was 4 for 8 (a Pick 6 and no TD's. Stanton was 2 for 7 (- TD's, 1 pick).

  • It was RB by spread out committee, with the most carried by Chris Johnson (4). K Williams led all RB's with 19 yards on 2 carries.1
  • Max number of catches were by Shipley (3) Jaron Brown, Momah and Taylor were next with 2 apiece. Brown gained 40 yards. Momah gained 30.

  • Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: . (Runs: 21 /Pass: 30).

  • Catanzaro was 1 for 2 (again) on FG's

    Swanson outpunted Butler with his one punt - 52.0 yards to Butler's 45.0 yards on 4 punts.

  • Christian and Farley led the team in tackles (5) followed by Hartfield and Butler (4).

    Mauro had our only sack.

    Card QB's were sacked one time (Attachu)

    Cards were 5 for 14 (35%) in Third Down Efficiency. SD was 8 for 17 (47%).

    Red Zone Efficiency: Cards 0 for 0 (0%). Chargers 0for 2 (0%)

    Penalties: Cards were penalized 3 times (compared to SD's 8)

    Time of Possession: Cards 27:25 -Chargers .32:35.

  • Card defense gave up an average of 1.7 per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 3.0)

Bright Spots

  • Defense gave up zero TD's.

  • Momah had 3 catches.

  • Brandon Williams' and Marqui Christians ratio of "big plays made" to "big plays given up" improved.

    Deluxe hit by Bucannon early in 1st quarter.

  • Cariel Brooks appears to be playing his way onto the roster.

  • Pierre's batdown

    Jaron Brown had a bried but productive outing.

    Wide open drop by Bundy.

The Dark Side

  • They made a majority of big plays. We failed to make very many if any big plays

    Uninspired special teams play

  • One sacks

  • Dropsy by M Christian on a would-be interception. He also whiffed on a sideline open field tackle.

  • Catanzara missed another chipster.

  • Sack on first play from scrimmage resulted from a play action fake before we had established the run

    Was it JJ having a bad game? Or JJ's teammates failing to support him?

    Watford (did he play?) said to whiff on a draw block late in game.

Last Word:
Pretty much same as last week. We lost. We made few if any big plays. Therefore - obviously - e gave up more big plays than we made). But the coaches figure to have learned a lot from the play of their backups, and the players definitely have a lot of footage to study,

To paraphrase what I said after Oakland: There are probably legitimate (& correctable) reasons for our losing; but this doesn't mean that the loss (& the way we did) shouldn't be considered important.

It would not surprise me if BA decided to cut someone uncuttable in order to set an example/invoke a sense of urgency.!

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012