The Los Angeles Chargers started the game on defense after a Michael Badgley kickoff. Josh Rosen and the Arizona Cardinals offense looked borderline unstoppable at first with David Johnson seemingly picking up positive yardage at will. Larry Fitzgerald capped off the 76-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown reception and Chargers fans were sweating.
The first two plays from scrimmage for the Chargers were a 0-yard reception and 1-yard run for Melvin Gordon. Things got worse from there as Philip Rivers was sacked for a big loss on 3rd down. Donnie Jones outkicked his coverage and Christian Kirk returned the punt for 26 yards.
Eight plays and 32 yards later, the defense managed to hold the Cardinals to a field goal attempt that Phil Dawson converted from 30 yards out.
Desmond King gave the offense good field position with a 40-yard kickoff return. Travis Benjamin followed that with his first big play of the season hauling in a 27-yard reception along the right sideline. From there, the offense was rolling and even a holding penalty and sack on consecutive plays was not able to stop them. Mike Williams ended the drive with a 9-yard score.
The defense forced a three-and-out, and things looked rosy, but on the Chargers second play of the ensuing drive, Rivers was stripped and the Cardinals recovered. The defense came up big again, though, and forced a field goal attempt. Dawson missed and the Chargers took over again.
A 33-yard pass to Antonio Gates put the Chargers in Cardinals territory and a 28-yard run by Melvin Gordon put six more points on the board.
Josh Rosen’s next pass was well behind its intended target and right into the waiting arms of Derwin James.
The offense continued to look great on the following drive. Gordon ripped off successful play after successful play including a touchdown. In between, Sean Culkin notched the first reception of his NFL career on a 24-yard Philip Rivers strike down the left sideline.
The Cardinals appeared they might put up a fight when they got the ball back, but ultimately they punted it away after only 20 yards of offense.
With under two minutes but all three timeouts, the Chargers took over on their own 20 and proceeded to march down the field. Rivers was perfect on the drive which included gorgeous toe-tapping sideline catches by Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the latter for his second touchdown of the game.
The Chargers started the second half with the ball and showed no signs of slowing down. After a 5-yard Gordon run, Rivers completed his 20th consecutive pass across the middle to Allen for a 1st down. Two more Gordon carries moved the sticks again. Ken Whisenhunt then tried to get tricky and Gordon was tackled for a huge loss on a reverse. He appeared hurt, but left the field under his own power. On the next play, Austin Ekeler picked up 14 on a short pass. Ekeler got the call again on 3rd down and picked up the 1st. It was also Rivers’ 23rd consecutive completion to start the game which was a new NFL record. Justin Jackson followed that up by following some great blocking to a nice gain. Jackson got the nod again on 1st down and picked up 5 more. Travis Benjamin caught a short pass and broke a tackle to move the sticks again. Keenan Allen then made another amazing catch along the sideline. This one, though, was in the endzone for a touchdown. The play was reviewed and the call on the field stood. Rivers tied the NFL record for consecutive completions with 25.
The Cardinals, of course, followed that up by going three-and-out.
Rivers’ first pass of the next drive, sadly, fell incomplete. Ekeler then picked up 15 yards on a nice catch and run. Justin Jackson saw some more work picking up a new set of downs. Benjamin picked up another reception on an intermediate throw across the middle. Eventually, on 3rd & 4, Rivers tried to run for it and came up about a yard short. On 4th & 1, the offense stayed on the field inside the red zone. Ekeler took a pitch to the left side and easily converted. Ekeler then took a carry up the middle and scored his first touchdown of the day as the 3rd quarter ended. That made it 42 unanswered points for the home team.
Then the defense forced another three-and-out and Joey Bosa notched his second sack of the game.
At this point, Philip Rivers’ day was done as the Chargers did not want to risk injury to their star quarterback in a blowout. Geno Smith took over and the offense promptly stopped being effective. From there on, it was just a matter of running clock and hoping nobody else got injured. The teams traded punts before the Chargers offense got something going by feeding Detrez Newsome before stalling out in the red zone and kicking a field goal to make the score 45-10.