ReFo: Chargers @ Cardinals, Week 1
The final game of Week 1 in the 2014 season wrapped up in dramatic fashion. The Chargers had built up a lead over a tough first three quarters and were heading into the fourth up by 11, 17-6.
The Cardinals remained patient and pegged back a score early in the fourth quarter before going for, and failing to convert, a two-point conversion. This forced them to search for a second touchdown which they eventually got after a 91-yard, 12-play drive with 2.13 remaining. Their D then stood tall and sealed the victory by shutting down Rivers and the Chargers by bringing immense pressure on the blitz.
But let’s take a look at who stood out individually
San Diego Chargers – Performances of Note
Eddie Royal, WR: -3.5
Breakdown: In a game this close and with a game plan like the Chargers had, drops became crucial, drive-killing plays, and, unfortunately, Royal was the chief culprit. He was thrown at six times, dropping three of them and compounding that error by causing an interception when he and Philip Rivers were on different pages on a quick route over the middle.
Signature Stat: Rivers’ passer rating when targeting Royal in this game was 1.4
Jason Verrett, CB: +3.5
Breakdown: I was massively impressed by Verrett, a first-round rookie corner thrust into his first game action against arguably the best stable of receivers in the league. He held up admirably, and wasn’t just avoiding surrendering plays, but actively making them himself.
Signature Stat: Verrett allowed only three catches for 25 yards and just 2 yards after the catch.
Dwight Freeney, OLB: +1.6
Breakdown: I’ll be honest, I’d kind of forgotten Dwight Freeney still existed until this game, but he showed he can still play, and still bring the heat. His inside spin move is still a glorious thing to watch and gave Jared Veldheer problems on more than one occasion. Grade would have been much higher had he been able to finish a couple of those pressures and actually take the QB to the ground for sacks.
Signature Stat: Led the team with five pressures from his 34 pass rushes.
Arizona Cardinals – Performances of Note
Larry Foote, ILB: +0.6
Breakdown: Foote’s performance in this game was remarkable even if his overall grade is not. He made multiple plays in the run game, making the most of Daryll Washington’s old role of shooting gaps and playing on the opposing side of the line of scrimmage, but his +2.5 grade in run defense was almost entirely wiped out by a -1.5 grade in coverage thanks to a couple of missed tackles.
Signature Play: It’s fitting that the play that ended the Chargers’ challenge on offense was a ball deflected by Foote at the line of scrimmage, which Keenan Allen couldn’t adjust to catch.
Carson Palmer, QB: -1.9
Breakdown: How can Carson Palmer’s grade be that poor when his numbers look so nice and he led a comeback win? Well he was largely responsible for the issue in the first place, and had two terrible throws dropped by San Diego safeties – one each for Eric Weddle and Marcus Gilchrist.
Signature Stat: His completion percentage dropped from 69.0% to 50.0% when pressured. Luckily for Arizona he was only pressured on 13 drop-backs.
Patrick Peterson, CB: -1.9
Breakdown: How did Patrick Peterson fare in his new role playing almost exclusively left corner? ‘Not well’ is the honest answer. His coverage numbers look healthy enough – he gave up just two catches for 23 yards on five targets (albeit one of them a touchdown), but he was caught out of position a couple of times in coverage and not punished badly for it.
Signature Stat: After shadowing receivers before this season Peterson played just 4 of 62 snaps anywhere other than the left side.
PFF Game Ball
While we got to hear no end about Larry Fitzgerald due to the lack of targets and production, the player to pick up that slack was Michael Floyd. His 119 yards on five catches earn him the game ball.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam