Field goals and defense.
Sounds like a preseason game.
Nonetheless, San Diego’s 19-3 win over the Cardinals Friday night, the team’s first “real” game action at Qualcomm Stadium since last December, was an improvement over its opening loss to the Titans last week.
Josh Lambo hit four field goals, and was good from 48 and 50 yards. While it was a solid night for Lambo, it was just as much a reminder that the Chargers offense has yet to get going.
The first-team was quarterbacked by Kellen Clemens in the first half and showed some positive signs, albeit on an individual level. Melvin Gordon started the game off with a 12-yard run, showing great vision before bouncing to the outside of a pulling D.J. Fluker and bursting up the sideline for another 10 yards.
Gordon finished the night with 18 rushing yards on six attempts.
Surprisingly, Keenan Allen played all of the first quarter and about half of the second before exiting. He caught two passes for 41 yards, including a 28-yard catch-and-run. Allen, who was off to an NFL record pace receiving last year before suffering a lacerated kidney, appeared a bit shaken up after being tackled. He exited immediately afterward.
Tyrell Williams made his preseason debut and continued building off a solid Training Camp. He led the Chargers with four receptions for 47 yards.
Travis Benjamin also made his preseason debut, but struggled in limited action. He caught only one pass for 11 yards and dropped an easily catchable pass from Clemens late in the second quarter. He did return punts, but managed just seven yards on two attempts, though were wasn’t a lot of room to run.
Defensively, the Chargers looked much better than they did last week against the Titans. After allowing 288 yards rushing, San Diego held the Cardinals to 63 yards on the ground, and just 17 in the first half.
The Chargers’ first-team defensive backs were especially good from the beginning. On a nickel blitz, Brandon Flowers jumped a quick screen from Carson Palmer and returned it 25 yards for a pick-six, and the games’ first score.
Flowers has looked much better in camp this year after struggling for much of 2015.
Jahleel Addae intercepted an overthrown pass from Drew Stanton in the second quarter and returned it 61-yards, nearly giving the Chargers two pick-sixes in the first half. It was Addae’s first career interception, albeit in a preseason game.
Arizona finished with 146 yards passing and was 5-14 on third down.