Minus LT. Chargers get 33-31 victory over Arizona

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The San Diego Chargers moved the ball at will in a 33-31 preseason victory over Arizona on Saturday night.

Imagine how potent they'll be when LaDainian Tomlinson returns to the lineup.

"We spread the ball around and threw it pretty good for the most part," said quarterback Philip Rivers, who completed 20 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. He hit Vincent Jackson for touchdowns of 33 and 6 yards.

The Chargers rolled up a staggering 506 yards of offense without Tomlinson, who has not played in the preseason.

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt had said the game against the defending AFC West champions would provide a measuring stick for his team. Afterward, he tried to put a positive spin on the game.

"What I found out from our defense tonight was they never gave up," Whisenhunt said. "That's a good offensive football team out there, too. They've got a lot of weapons. We knew it was going to be difficult."

Arizona (0-3) appeared to have it won when third-team quarterback Shane Boyd hit Matt Trannon for a 5-yard touchdown pass, giving the Cardinals a 31-30 lead with 1:05 to play. But Arizona's reserve defense let San Diego (2-1), led by Billy Volek, drive 53 yards on seven plays to set up a 37-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding with 2 seconds to go. It was Kaeding's fourth field goal.

The Chargers' first-team offense mounted four drives of at least 64 yards in the first two quarters and one series in the third quarter. If their offense plays like this all season, they may find themselves back in Glendale for the Super Bowl next Feb. 3.

"I think the impressive thing was the drives we sustained," Rivers said. "We had a lot of long drives. Obviously, you like a big play now and then, but we'll take those long drives."

But Chargers coach Norv Turner was disappointed by two lost fumbles deep in Arizona territory by running backs Michael Turner and Lorenzo Neal.

"Obviously, we moved the ball," Norv Turner said. "We did a lot of good things in the first half. But we can't turn the ball over."

The turnovers were the only bright side for Arizona's beleaguered defense. Cardinals linebacker Gerald Hayes recovered one fumble and forced the other.

"Our defense made some plays tonight that kept us in the game," Whisenhunt said.

Arizona's Matt Leinart had another strong showing, completing 10 of 16 for 196 yards and a touchdown. He did not play after halftime.

"I feel good but I have to continue to get better and continue to get in my playbook," Leinart said. "I have too many mental errors, and that is just something that I have to continue to get better at."

The Cardinals knew their offense was solid. But it may have to be spectacular if the defense doesn't improve quickly. Arizona's defense ranked 29th in the NFL a year ago.

The Chargers gained 265 yards in the first half, with Rivers completing 14 of 23 passes for 217 yards.

On its first two possessions, San Diego marched 65 yards on 14 plays and 80 yards on 10 plays.

The first drive led to a 33-yard Kaeding field goal. The Chargers converted three straight third downs on the drive, including a 24-yard pass from Rivers to Jackson on third-and-8 at their own 34.

The second drive ended in a 19-yard burst up the middle by Darren Sproles, who faked safety Aaron Francisco to the turf and sprinted into the end zone.

After the teams swapped field goals on their opening possessions, Arizona made it 10-3 on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Leinart to Anquan Boldin with 6:10 to go in the first quarter.

Leinart stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure and found Boldin wide open behind Quentin Jammer at San Diego's 40, and Boldin outran the coverage.

"We wanted to come out and make a statement," Boldin said at halftime. "Everybody around the league knows that the third preseason game is like a dress rehearsal, so we wanted to come out and show everybody what we were capable of."

Boldin, a Pro Bowler last year, finished with five catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.

"Anquan's had a great camp," Whisenhunt said. "He's one of the best players on our team. He's a leader."

Leinart's backup, Kurt Warner, fumbled on his first series but then led a 10-play, 77-yard drive that pulled the Cardinals within 27-24 late in the third quarter. Warner completed 6-of-7 passes for 78 yards in a little more than a quarter.

Notes: Three other San Diego regulars - defensive end Igor Olshansky, linebacker Matt Wilhelm and wide receiver Buster Davis - also sat out. Davis had four wisdom teeth pulled on Thursday night and did not make the trip, Norv Turner said. ... Michael Turner left with a sprained ankle in the first half and did not return.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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