The Cardinals started off the game with the football, and the Chargers’ first-team defense showed up to play. Early pressure from Emanuel and Mebane, as well as good coverage from Hayward, leaded to a quick 3-and-out by the Cards.
The Chargers’ first possession started with a nice chunk play, and a first down on a bounced run by Gordon. Naturally, poor pass protection and a late Clemens throw led to a fourth down. It was quite reassuring to see #17 on the sideline for this one, as Rivers has taken enough hits during the past couple of years due to shoddy O-Line play. Kaser dropped a perfect punt near the endzone, with Craig Mager downing it inside the 5.
Perryman had a nice series where he almost tackled David Johnson for a safety, then tackled Johnson for a short gain. Unfortunately, Flowers did not help out the effort, giving up a big gain on third and long. He made up for it by picking off a Palmer pass via a classic Pagano CB blitz. It fell good seeing Flowers take it to the house, even if it was just the preseason. Oh yeah, and we got this nugget from Sisti:
Verrett almost followed Flowers up with a near-pick. Lowery promptly tackled a receiver short to force a punt. All in all, another good series.
Keenan Allen was Keenan Allen, adjusting to a Clemens throw to make a nice catch. Some poor blocking led to the drive ending. You hate to see your punter take the field, but Kaser definitely looks the part of an NFL punter.
Stanton had all day to find a receiver on the next Cards’ possession, with very minimal penetration by the Chargers defense. However, the run defense did look quite competent, especially compared to last week’s rout at Tennessee. A terrible throw by Stanton landed right in Jahleel Addae’s bread basket, leading to a 61-yard return inside the 10. Some poor red zone offensive play-calling by Whiz led to McCoy opting for an FG.
The Chargers stopped the Cardinals again and regained possession. A solid drive featuring a whole lot of Travis Benjamin ended with another Lambo field goal. Tyrell Williams also looked great, even with Noodle Arm at quarterback. He made plays and got open even on plays where Clemens couldn’t find him. Another stalled drive means another field goal for Lambo. 16-nil at the half.
Bercovici took over in the second-half, and man oh man did he look good—at times. His first drive featured a lot of bad mixed in with the good, including a pick call that took away a nice BO TD. Lambo finished with an FG. 19-0 Chargers after four straight FG drives.
The back of the depth chart started rearing its head as the Bolts’ third-stringers struggled to slow down the Barkley-led Cardinals offense. The D held on 3rd and long to force a 48-yard FG attempt, which Catanzaro missed.
The Chargers’ offense stalled on the next possession, but at least we got to see Kaser boom another punt.
Cardinals’ O started to stall under Barkley. The Chargers play well and regain possession near the start of 4th. Bercovici shows why he jumped Mettenberger on the depth chart, hooking up with Dom Williams multiple times for some nice completions. With nowhere to throw the football, Bercovici out of bounds to force fourth down. McCoy calls Kaser’s name once again, and he sends the pigskin flying, just like his job description entails.
Barkley starts the next Cardinals’ possession with a nice 15-yard completion. They drive all the way down the field and finally score with about 5 minutes left in the game. 19-3, Chargers.
Mettenberger sees absolutely no time in the game as Bercovici finishes off the game as the Bolts’ QB. With about 4 minutes to go, Bercovici hooked up with Deandre Reaves a couple of times to move the chains. Dreamius Smith showed nice burst in getting a 7-yard run for a first down. The Bolts ended the game by taking a knee,
Overall, Dan Fouts offered good post-game analysis when he praised the Bolts for good defensive play and a nice job of sustaining drives. Nonetheless, even without Rivers in, you still expect the offense to punch at least one of those in for a TD.