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Chargers vs. Cardinals 2014 final score: 3 things we learned in the Cardinals' 18-17 win

The Arizona Cardinals took advantage of a late mistake by the San Diego Chargers to win their home opener, 18-17, Monday night.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Both the San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals are trendy postseason picks, though their matchup Monday night was pretty much a dud.

But the scoring took off in the second half and the Chargers managed to take a 17-6 lead on Ryan Mathews' 20-yard run. The Cardinals -- who enjoyed the surprise start of versatile running back Andre Ellington -- stormed back in the fourth quarter and even got some guy named Larry Fitzgerald a catch.

Led by quarterback Carson Palmer, Arizona took advantage of a botched snap by the Chargers in the fourth and drove down the field to take the late lead, as the Cardinals held on for an 18-17 victory.

1. Michael Floyd is ready to bust out. With five catches for 119 yards, Floyd's night included a 63-yard bomb from Carson Palmer in the first half. As the Chargers focused on taking Fitzgerald out of the game, the third-year receiver took advantage and showed why he could have a huge year for Arizona.

Fitzgerald caught just one pass, but it extended his streak of catching at least one pass to 150 games, the longest streak in the NFL.

Teams won't want to sleep on John Brown, either, evidenced by Arizona's go-ahead touchdown.

2. So much for Andre Ellington's foot injury. The diminutive running back scared fantasy owners everywhere when reports came out last week that he could be out for an extended period of time, but he surprised everyone by starting Monday night, rushing 13 times for 53 yards and catching five passes for 27 yards.

Jonathan Dwyer, who was a short-lived fantasy darling as Ellington's status remained unclear, rushed seven times for 20 yards. But it was third-stringer Stepfan Taylor who caught a TD pass from Palmer.

3. The Chargers' offense beats itself once again. After a rough first half, the offense went to a no-huddle pace to much better results, scoring a quick third-quarter touchdown for a 10-6 lead. San Diego then capitalized on a Palmer fumble to go up 17-6.

Things looked grim in the first half, but the offense looked better after halftime -- you know, if you forget about the crippling botched snap that took them out of field goal range in the fourth.

Just another day in the life of Philip Rivers.

But at least the ageless wonder Antonio Gates had six catches for 81 yards.



Center Nick Hardwick left in the first half with a left ankle injury, and was replaced by Rich Ohrnberger.


Frostee Rucker, the replacement for Darnell Dockett, left the game with a calf injury. Linebacker John Abraham suffered a head injury in the third quarter, but walked off the field.