Final

Cardinals 10

(2-2, 1-2 away)

Chargers 41

(2-2, 2-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:15 PM ET, October 3, 2010

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
ARI 0 7 0 310
SD 7 21 10 341

Top Performers

Passing: P. Rivers (SD) - 241 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: M. Tolbert (SD) - 16 CAR, 100 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: A. Gates (SD) - 7 REC, 144 YDS, 2 TD

Chargers return to form by dismantling hapless Cardinals

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and the rest of the San Diego Chargers' offense have the flash.

The guys on defense have the bash.

A week after underachieving in Seattle, the four-time defending AFC West champion Chargers dominated the two-time defending NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals, winning 41-10 as both the offense and defense came up huge.

Gates became the seventh tight end in NFL history with 500 catches, including easy touchdown receptions of 33 and 26 yards from Rivers. Gates had seven catches for 144 yards as the Chargers pulled to 2-2.

Rookie running back Ryan Mathews scored his first NFL touchdown on a 15-yard run late in the third quarter. Fullback Mike Tolbert ran 16 times for 100 yards -- his first 100-yard game in three seasons -- and one score.

On a day when former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier made a brief visit to the Chargers' sideline, the defense harassed the Cardinals' beleaguered quarterbacks all day, with nine sacks and three takeaways. Linebacker Shaun Phillips had a career-high four sacks and also returned an interception of Derek Anderson 31 yards for a TD late in the second quarter.

"Everybody knows defense, we're always waiting in the wings," said end Travis Johnson, who had one sack. "We're the engine to the locomotive, you know what I mean? For the defense, it's all about the engine. We don't really care about all the shine, we just like to go out there and do our job, you know, yeoman's work."

They did it well enough that the Cardinals (2-2) have a quarterback controversy.

Max Hall replaced Anderson, who was 7 of 14 for 64 yards with two interceptions and three sacks, for a 23.2 rating. Hall took a beating, too. He was sacked six times and lost a fumble.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn't know who will start next week.

"I know we missed some opportunities in the first half," Whisenhunt said. "It's a tough environment. When they got the lead they were able to pin their ears back and come after us."

Arizona had only 124 yards in offense.

Linebacker Kevin Burnett had two sacks and forced a fumble by Hall that Luis Castillo recovered. Mathews scored on the next play from scrimmage, sweeping to his right and diving to get the ball just inside the pylon late in the third quarter for a 38-7 lead. He sat out last week's game with a sprained right ankle. In his first two games, he lost two fumbles that led to 10 points for the opponents.

Burnett said the key was holding Arizona to 47 yards rushing and forcing the Cardinals to pass.

"Today we were able to dictate the tempo," Burnett said. "When you do that, you force them to be one-handed. It's easy to play poker when you know what everybody's got."

Said Anderson: "Obviously it falls on us and it falls on the quarterback no matter what."

The Chargers also tightened their kickoff coverage after allowing Leon Washington to score on kickoff returns of 101 and 99 yards in a 27-20 Seattle victory a week earlier.

After getting off to another slow September start under Norv Turner, the Chargers got a boost from the schedule makers.

Anderson had been erratic coming in, and the Cardinals were without wideouts Steve Breaston and Early Doucet. Anderson was intercepted by safety Steve Gregory to end the game's first drive, and the Chargers capped their first possession with Rivers' 33-yard TD pass to a wide-open Gates, who came into the league as an undrafted rookie in 2003 and quickly blossomed into one of the game's best tight ends.

"It's a milestone, and you dream about becoming one of those elite guys," Gates said.

"He's the best tight end in football," Rivers said. "You mix that with a variety of formations and running the football and we get some matchups that we were able to take advantage of. It's always nice to see No. 85 running wide open."

Arizona got a big momentum shift when Greg Toler forced a fumble by Darren Sproles. Kerry Rhodes picked it up, fell down, got up and rumbled 42 yards for the tying touchdown.

It was the sixth fumble lost by the Chargers, one fewer than all of last year.

The Chargers pulled away on Tolbert's 5-yard TD run and a 26-yard TD catch by Gates. The big tight end hit the 500-catch mark with a 12-yard reception earlier on that drive, and the scoring grab was his 501st.

Phillips single-handedly wrecked Arizona's next drive. He sacked Anderson on 2nd-and-10, then picked him off and returned it 31 yards for a 28-7 lead.

Phillips dodged the media. He's apparently still mad about criticism of his head-butt that drew a 15-yard penalty in San Diego's 17-14 playoff loss to the New York Jets.

Game notes


Mathews had 55 yards as the Chargers rushed for 180 yards. ... A week after throwing for a franchise-record 455 yards, Rivers was 15 of 20 for 241 yards.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
ARI
SD
1st Downs1023
Passing 1st downs
712
Rushing 1st downs
39
1st downs from Penalties
02
3rd down efficiency
4-125-10
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Plays5160
Total Yards134419
Yards per play2.67.0
Total Drives1011
Passing87239
Comp - Att
15-2816-21
Yards per pass
3.111.4
Interceptions thrown
20
Sacks - Yards Lost
9-591-10
Rushing47180
Rushing Attempts
1438
Yards per rush
3.44.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-02-3
Penalties5-345-44
Turnovers31
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
20
Defensive / Special Teams TDs11
Possession25:0234:58

Passing Leaders

ARIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Hall8/14825.9006-39
Anderson7/14644.6023-20
SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rivers15/2024112.1201-10
Volek1/188.0000-0

Rushing Leaders

ARICARYDSAVGTDLG
Hightower7243.407
Wells5193.807
SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Tolbert161006.3123
Mathews9556.1120

Receiving Leaders

ARIRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Fitzgerald7568.001311
Williams33210.70178
SDRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Gates714420.62337
Floyd24522.50313

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERARISD
sdTD04:45Antonio Gates 33 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERARISD
ariTD13:34Kerry Rhodes 42 Yd Fumble Return (Jay Feely Kick) 77
sdTD10:31Mike Tolbert 5 Yd Run (Nate Kaeding Kick) 714
sdTD03:30Antonio Gates 26 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding Kick) 721
sdTD02:30Shaun Phillips 31 Yd Interception Return (Nate Kaeding Kick) 728
THIRD QUARTERARISD
sdFG03:55Nate Kaeding 48 Yd 731
sdTD01:31Ryan Mathews 15 Yd Run (Nate Kaeding Kick) 738
FOURTH QUARTERARISD
sdFG10:49Nate Kaeding 47 Yd 741
ariFG03:17Jay Feely 53 Yd 1041

Research Notes

The Chargers are the first team to lead the NFL in total offense AND defense through Week 4 or later since the 1987 49ers and the 6th team to do so since the merger.
  [+]

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