TE Antonio Gates (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
The San Diego Chargers improved to 2-2 and caged the Arizona Cardinals in a 41-10 win on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers put on a total clinic on both sides of the ball, exposing Arizona's possible season-wrecking weaknesses.
The Chargers do their best work when most of San Diego isn't watching.
The Chargers clutched their second win at home in as many televised blackouts thanks to juggernaut performances from Philip Rivers, Mike Tolbert, Antonio Gates and Shaun Phillips, who combined to facilitate an early lead, posting a 21-point advantage by halftime.
Phillips successfully kicked the Cardinals when they were down. The Cardinals used QBs Derek Anderson and Max Hall; Phillips had no problem reaching either one. Philips added insult to injury with a pick-six, marking his first interception since 2007. Phillips' four-sack game was a first for the seven-year pro.
On offense, Tolbert (100 yards and one TD) and Gates (144 yards, two TDs) led the charge. Both held active roles in moving the chains.
Ryan Mathews joined the party in the second half. Mathews successfully hung on to the ball on all nine carries, his first complete game without a fumble. He also had another first against the Cardinals, scoring his first career touchdown from 15 yards out in the third quarter.
Nate Kaeding contributed to the final score with a pair of field goals. He hit from 48 and 47 yards after an earlier miss from 38.
The Chargers easily stopped the Cardinals on Arizona's offensive outings. The Cardinals well-documented quarterback snafus have changed the Cardinals from a pass-happy football team to one that relies more on its ground game.
The Chargers took both approaches out of the equation.
Despite the return of Beanie Wells, the Chargers held the Cardinals to 47 yards on the ground. The Cardinals were without WRs Early Doucet and Steve Breaston, but the Chargers kept Larry Fitzgerald to only 56 yards, with the rest of the group combining for less than 100 yards.
Ron Rivera's unit was unrelenting with five defenders adding sacks to the box score: Phillips, Jyles Tucker, Kevin Burnett (two), Travis Johnson and Antonio Garay.
Arizona's Greg Toler was the only player wearing red to reach Rivers. The second-year, small-school corner not only earned the first sack of his career, but also forced a fumble on Darren Sproles, which Kerry Rhodes got his hands on and returned 42 yards for the Cardinals' only touchdown.
Hall's most successful drive, with a combo of short passes and short runs, put the Cardinals into field-goal position late in the fourth quarter. But Jay Feely's kick only cut San Diego's lead to 31.
Chargers take it, 41-10.
What are Chargers fans saying about Sunday's win? See in the message boards.
Amberly Dressler is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. She has worked as a reporter for SDBoltReport.com and as the publisher for the network's Arizona Cardinals site, AZRedReport.com.