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Cardinals rally to beat Chargers

Sep 9, 2014 - 7:34 AM Glendale, AZ ( - Carson Palmer threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as the Arizona Cardinals closed out Week 1 of the NFL season with a come-from-behind 18-17 win over the visiting San Diego Chargers on Monday night.

Palmer completed 24-of-37 throws and finished with 304 yards for the Cardinals (1-0), who missed the playoffs last season despite winning 10 games.

Philip Rivers was 21-of-36 for 238 yards, one touchdown and an interception for San Diego (0-1), which is coming off a run to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

The Chargers scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives in the second half to go up 17-6.

Rivers converted a third down on the opening series of the third quarter by connecting with Malcom Floyd for 32 yards. He hooked up again later with the wideout for a 6-yard scoring strike.

Palmer was then stripped on a sack by Jeremiah Attaochu and Dwight Freeney recovered the ball at the Arizona 29-yard line, leading to Ryan Mathews' 20- yard dash to the end zone.

The Cardinals fought back in the fourth.

"You just keep pecking away. You're trying to find that one matchup," said Arizona head coach Bruce Arians.

Palmer moved away from the rush to buy time and found Stepfan Taylor for a 5- yard touchdown, capping a 10-play drive. Running back Jonathan Dwyer was wrapped up on the two-point try.

After having an interception wiped out by a penalty, Rivers hit tight end Antonio Gates down the left sideline on 3rd-and-13 for a 34-yard gain. But an errant shotgun snap knocked the Chargers out of field goal range and forced a punt.

Arizona grabbed the lead with an 11-play, 91-yard scoring drive. Palmer converted a key third down not with his arms, but his legs. He scrambled for 12 yards on 3rd-and-10 from the nine and moved the Cardinals into San Diego territory with a 22-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald. It was Fitzgerald's lone reception, extending the longest active streak of consecutive games with a catch to 150.

Michael Floyd made a diving grab on another third down before Palmer hit rookie John Brown for a 13-yard touchdown with 2:25 remaining. The Cardinals failed again on the two-point conversion.

The Cardinals prevailed when Rivers' final pass was deflected by linebacker Larry Foote.

"This is one we felt like we let it get away," said Rivers.

Palmer flipped the field position on Arizona's second possession with a 63- yard pass to Michael Floyd, but Andre Ellington fumbled the ball one play later.

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy challenged the call after offensive tackle Bobby Massie appeared to recover the ball. The call was reversed as linebacker Donald Butler was credited with the recovery.

Nothing came of the turnover as San Diego was forced to punt.

Ellington, who had been listed as questionable with a foot injury, opened the second quarter with a 13-yard run. A 29-yard catch by Michael Floyd, coupled with a penalty on linebacker Melvin Ingram for roughing the passer, placed Arizona at the San Diego 11-yard line.

The Chargers defense held the Cardinals to a 22-yard field goal by rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who beat out veteran Jay Feely for the job.

Attaochu then blocked a punt by the Cardinals' Drew Butler, and the Chargers took over at the Arizona 17-yard line. San Diego, however, settled for a 36- yard Nick Novak field goal after not getting a first down.

Arizona capitalized on a late Rivers interception to take a 6-3 lead into halftime. The Chargers appeared to be the one primed to move ahead, marching into enemy territory with under two minutes remaining, before cornerback Jerraud Powers picked off Rivers' pass down the middle.

Palmer threw passes of five and 25 yards to set up Catanzaro's 44-yard field goal as time expired.

Game Notes

The Cardinals snapped a three-game losing streak to the Chargers ... Ellington had 53 yards on 13 carries ... Michael Floyd caught five passes for 119 yards ... Gates had 81 yards on six receptions ... Arizona linebacker John Abraham left the game with concussion-like symptoms.