It wasn't always pretty during the middle of the game, but in the end the Arizona Cardinals got the win. Head coach Bruce Arians called it "a great team win."
"I thought we started off pretty solid then obviously had a very poor beginning of the third quarter, which we had talked about at halftime of dominating the first five minutes, and we got dominated," he said to the media following the game. "It was great to have the resiliency that we showed, and the abiity to come back through it all.
"We had some ups and downs. It wasn't the prettiest game, but a win is a win."
The ups included a sequence right at the end of the first half. With San Diego driving down the field, Jerraud Powers picked off a Philip River pass and gave the Cardinals the ball with 16 second left at their own 44-yard line. Carson Palmer completed a five-yard pass to Andre Ellington, who got out of bounds, and then hit Ted Ginn for 25 yards. They got the timeout called and rookie Chandler Catanzaro came on and hit a 44-yard field goal to end the half and give the team a 6-3 lead.
Arians thought that sequence "was one of the best things of the whole game."
"The defense gets a turnover, and we get three points out of it, executing something we've practiced a bunch of times since the spring," he said. "It was nice to see us go out and execute with that time."
The downs were the first five minutes of the third quarter.
San Diego came out in the second half and moved the ball. It took only six plays to get 80 yards and a touchdown to take the lead. Arians noted "we had talked about at halftime of dominating the first five minutes (of the second half), and we got dominated."
The sequence didn't get better, as the Cardinals turned the ball over and San Diego scored again.
Down 11 points, Carson Palmer said it "felt like we were down more than we were."
"It's just one drive at a time, one play at a time," he said to the media. "Two scoring drives and we're back on top. We did that."
Some of the numbers:
- Arizona's rush defense was on display again. They held San Diego to 52 yards on 24 carries. That included a 10-yard scramble by Philip Rivers and a 20-yard touchdown run by Ryan Mathews. Even with those two plays, they held the Chargers to 2.2 yards per carry. Take them away, and it is 22 yards on 22 carries.
- Arizona did not get a single sack in the win.
- Carson Palmer is the first Cardinals QB in team history to throw for over 300 yards in two season openers. That says more about the team's history than anything else. He is also only the second Cardinals QB to throw for over 300 yards without an interception on Monday Night Football. The other was Kurt Warner.
- Philip Rivers was held to 80 passing yards in the first half. That was lower than any half he had last season.
- Larry Fitzgerald did not get a catch until late in the game, but his 22-yarder was key. It extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 150.
- Palmer finished 24/37 for 304 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers was 21/36 for 238 yards and a score and a pick.
- San Diego finished with 290 yards from scrimmage, over 100 less than they averaged a season ago.
- Michael Floyd had five catches for 119 yards.
- Andre Ellington had 18 total touches for a combined 80 yards (13 carries for 53 yards, five catches for 27).
- Larry Foote had eight tackles, two for losses. He was everywhere on the field.
- All the points scored by the Cardinals were scored by players who had never done so before in the NFL. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro made his first two field goal attempts in his debut. Stepfan Taylor's and John Brown's touchdowns were also the first in their careers.