A reverse to Reche Caldwell quickly put the ball inside the twenty. After two runs and an incompletion, Nate Kaeding came on to boot one from 24 yards out. His kick, unlike his first kick of preseason game one, was good.
The Cardinals answered back with a 31 yard field goal from Neil Rackers on their first possession.
Josh McCown hit Karl Williams over the middle for 17 yards to open the drive for the Cardinals. Veteran back Emmitt Smith skipped by a charging Steve Foley to gain 12 yards, leading the Cards into Chargers territory.
A diving Igor Olshansky missed McCown in the backfield on third and six as the quarterback scrambled for the first down. The Cards drive would halt at the 12 with Rackers coming on to tie the games at 3-3.
Michael Turner made it to the Chargers 46 on his first return of the day, a 42 yard return. Drew Brees had a beautiful play-action, bootlegging away from the play, cutting it short inside the pocket and coming back across the field to his left hitting Antonio Gates for a 30 yard gain. Brees then threw a ball high to Caldwell who had inside positioning near the end zone for an incompletion. He came back to hit Eric Parker inside the ten. The Chargers drive would stall there.
Kaeding came on to kick a 25 yard field goal and on the snap Mike Scifres flipped a no-look toss behind his head to a racing Kaeding who ran around right end untouched for the touchdown, a fake field goal run from seven yards out to put the Chargers up 10-3.
After a pass interference call on Quentin Jammer put the ball at the Arizona 42, Randall Godfrey began to trail former Charger Freddie Jones across the field but stopped short as Jones went uncovered and got the pass from McCown. He tiptoed up the field 33 yards before he was met by Kwamie Lassiter and knocked out of bounds at the 23. Jerry Wilson missed an interception in the end zone and Rackers booted one through from 39 to make it 10-6.
Brees opened the third Chargers drive with a quick cross to Justin Peelle for twenty yards. A curl route to Kassim Osgood netted 14 more. Brees was again throwing the ball and hit a post route to Caldwell for 12. A quick check down on his next pass went to Turner for eight as he ran over one man to gain the extra yards. A pump fake from Brees baited the cornerback just enough as he laid in a pass to Wes Welker in the end zone who caught it falling down in the right corner of the end zone, taking a hit for his first touchdown reception. Brees was 5-for-5 for 78 yards on the drive.
The Chargers went to Turner on the next series. He had three carries for 17 yards and caught a pass for five. After an illegal blow to the head on Brees put the ball in Arizona territory, the quarterback hit Osgood on an out pattern for 16 yards. The play was challenged by upheld and the Cards were charged a timeout. Brees then threw a lollipop up that Caldwell could not find as it went into the waiting arms of David Macklin at the two. On the next play, Stephen Cooper streaked through the center of the offensive line to grab Damien Anderson in the end zone and haul him down for a safety, 19-6 Chargers.
Arizona began their last drive of the first half with just over three minutes on the clock. McCown hit Jones for ten yards before Damien Anderson ran through at least four missed tackles for 29 yards to the San Diego 30. The Chargers defense, however, held and stopped the Cards on fourth and one. Stephen Cooper came up with two more big plays.
Cleo Lemon led the Chargers on a 14 play drive that ate up eight minutes on the clock but they could not punch the ball in. The drive was highlighted by a Turner run of 25 yards where he ran over safety Adrian Wilson. The team settled for a 21 yard field goal from Mackenzie Hoambrecker.
A holding call in the end zone as Dave Ball turned the corner to nail the quarterback resulted in another safety for the Chargers, their second of the game to put the Chargers up 24-6.
Shaun Phillips stripped Shaun King of the ball as he attempted to throw the ball and Jonathan Cox picked up the ball and ran it 26 yards into the end zone. He spun the ball and Jerrell Pippens kicked it away, getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The play was challenged by Arizona and the call on the field stood, touchdown Chargers to give them a 31-6 advantage.
The Chargers made it 38-6 when Luke Powell took a punt and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown. He was not even touched on the return and Osgood almost stumbled into him.
John Navarre drove the ball downfield within the final minute and completed a 29 yard touchdown pass to Reggie Newhouse. It was all made possible when he converted on third and 26, making a completion to Larry Croom. That capped the scoring at 38-13.