It was by no means pretty, but Mike McCoy has his first NFL head coaching win.
The Chargers beat the Cardinals 24-7 in Arizona on Saturday night. The good news is, the defense and special teams were tremendous. The bad news is, the offense, while showing flashes of brilliance, is still a work in progress.
2012 special teams captain Darrell Stuckey blocked a first quarter punt and defensive lineman Kwame Geathers, an undrafted rookie free agent from Georgia, blocked a field goal try.
The Bolts sacked Arizona quarterbacks four times, 2.5 of them by Thomas Keiser, a linebacker they signed from the Carolina Panthers. Dwight Freeney also had a sack, and it looked a lot like the kind of play that's going to put him in the Hall of Fame.
Freeney used his patented spin move to run right by Cardinals LT Levi Brown and blast QB Carson Palmer. Freeney had another hit on Palmer and has been nothing short of dominant in the first three exhibition games.
San Diego's offense had one extremely nice drive, a 13-play, 92 yard march in the first quarter that utilized the no-huddle set McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt are installing. QB Philip Rivers completed five passes to four different receivers on the drive, including RB Danny Woodhead, who saw his first game action since being signed away from the Patriots.
Ryan Mathews was awesome until he was awful. Mathews carried 14 times for 57 yards and a touchdown. However, at the end of the first half, he got the call on second and goal from the one yard line, and promptly fumbled.
It was the exact kind of play that got Mathews benched in 2012, something he says he's learned from. Mathews got lucky because, in a bizarre series of events, Cardinals S Rashad Johnson picked it up and, instead of just falling on the ball with 30 seconds left in the half, inexplicably tried to pitch it to LB Sam Acho.
Antonio Gates knocked the ball away before Acho could get control, it popped in the air, and fellow Chargers TE John Phillips grabbed it and walked in to the end zone for a Chargers touchdown.
It would be nice to keep that kind of luck going during the rest of the season.
The Chargers play their final pre-season game on Thursday at Qualcomm Stadium against the 49ers.