Cardinals Edge Chargers 18-17 After Thrilling Fourth Quarter Comeback

ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer completely blasted the San Diego Chargers after the first 30 minutes of their season opener, pointing out the litany of missed opportunities in all facets of the game in the lead-in to the last 30 minutes of action.

The Arizona Cardinals would also struggle to capitalize when presented a chance to push the momentum fully in their favor, outkicking the Bolts two field goals to one in a highly-entertaining 6-3 first half.

Our Chargers/Cardinals First Half Recap

Connecting on just 50% of his passes (1o-for-20) for under 100 yards and an interception in the first 30 minutes, Philip Rivers came out with a chip on his shoulder in the third quarter.

The veteran signal caller would go 5-for-5 for 82 yards on an absolute flash of a seven-play drive, finding WR Malcom Floyd for a six-yard touchdown strike to give the Chargers a 10-6 lead. San Diego had seemingly found its sea legs, turning the game's momentum in their favor after just over three minutes of action.

Carson Palmer was a tad more effective than Rivers in the first half, going 11-for-18 for 178 yards while leading the Cards to two field goals. A now-you-see-me, now-you-don't running game would keep Arizona from fully cashing in, however, thus keeping Arizona out of the end zone.

Palmer would continue to spread the ball around on the team's first drive of the second half, hitting his eighth different reciever (none of them named Larry Fitzgerald) on a drive that had all the promise in the world until disaster struck.

With his second monster play of the first 40 minutes, rookie LB and 2014 second-round draft pick Jeremiah Attaochu would sack and strip Carson Palmer to set the Chargers up at the Arizona 29 after a Dwight Freeney recovery.

RB Ryan Mathews would make the Cards pay straight-away, running 20 yards off of left tackle for a crowd-deflating TD run - extending the San Diego lead to 17-6.

The Cardinals and Chargers defenses would trade punts as the side story of the game would become whether or not Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald would pick up a single catch. Fitzgerald came into the game with the NFL's longest active streak of games with at least one reception (149).

Regardless of Fitzgerald's nonpresence on the stat sheet, Carson Palmer would connect with his ninth and tenth receivers of the night as he led the Cards deep into Chargers territory as the fourth quarter got under way.

Larry Fitzgerald would almost make himself receiver #11 on a one-handed grab in the back right of the end zone, but couldn't keep his feet in bounds on a 2nd-and-goal. RB Stepfan Taylor would bail the Cards out, somehow getting open while Carson Palmer scrambled wildly to his right and pulling down a 5-yard TD grab.

The ten-play, 64-yard drive would be capped by a failed two-point conversion on a well-read (for the Chargers) direct snap to Arizona RB Jonathan Dwyer. The Cards had still turned the game into a barn burner, however, cutting the San Diego lead to one score at 17-12.

A scintillating third quarter (7-for-8, 100 yards, 1 TD) for Philip Rivers was a huge key to the Bolts' 14-0 dominance in the frame. His fourth quarter almost started out with absolute catastrophe, but an interception by Arizona's Tony Jefferson was nullified by a defensive holding call on the Cards safety.

Rivers would initially make good on the drive's second life, floating a 34-yard strike on 3rd-and-13 to his old friend, TE Antonio Gates, to push the Chargers into field goal territory.

Yet, just when it looked like San Diego was set up to seize full control of things, Rivers would take his eye off a snap on 3rd-and-8 at the Arizona 29 and would be forced to smother the ball at the Cardinals' 43 - a tide-turning gaffe that moved the Bolts out of field goal range.

With under seven minutes to go, Carson Palmer would use his feet to pull the Cardinals out of the shadow of their own goal post as he ran for a drive-saving first down on a third-and-long.

In a blink, the Cardinals would reach midfield on two impressive timing passes by Palmer. In yet another blink, Larry Fitzgerald would extend his league-best reception streak to 150 games on a diving 22-yard over-the-shoulder grab as Arizona found themselves major business at the San Diego 31.

Two throws later and a clutch drive by the Arizona Cardinals hit pay dirt, finished off by rookie WR John Brown's first NFL TD catch on a 13-yard grab-and-scamper. Palmer would miss on a two-point conversion throw to Fitzgerald, but the Cardinals had confidently seized lead at 18-17 with 2:25 left.

With two timeouts in hand, Rivers would hit on two passes for 20 yards to move the Chargers to their own 40 heading into the two-minute warning. However, Rivers would face two pin-your-ears-back blitzes on 2nd and 3rd-and-2 after the break, setting the stage for a biggest fourth down of the game.

Rivers would have to burn a timeout before WR Keenan Allen just barely dropped a tipped pass a couple yards past a first, all but sealing an absolutely thrilling 18-17 comeback victory for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals would run it out, as Carson Palmer would go 12-for-13 and two touchdowns on Arizona's last two drives to finish off the one-point triumph for Arizona.


Chargers' Player of the Game: OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (blocked punt, 4 tackles, sack, forced fumble)

Cardinals' Player of the Game: QB Carson Palmer (24-for-37, 304 passing yards, 2 TDs, 3 rushes, 30 rushing yards)

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