Larry Fitzgerald makes one of seven catches during Sunday's 41-10 loss in San Diego.
SAN DIEGO – As the Chargers scored early and often and the Cardinals did not, change was inevitable.
So, in a lost Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, coach Ken Whisenhunt may have altered the course of the season by altering his quarterback depth chart.
Rookie Max Hall replaced starter Derek Anderson late in the second quarter, making the eventual 41-10 loss to the Chargers a training run for the offense.
Nothing has been decided for sure – Whisenhunt said afterward he won't make a decision on his starter for the Saints game next week until he watches the video, for fear of making an emotional choice – but it would be a surprise if Hall doesn't get at least a chance to have a start of his own.
Right now, though, the Cards' issues have gone well beyond just the quarterback.
"If we don't cut down on our mistakes and cut them down quickly, we are going to have a very disappointing season," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.
The locker room was quiet as expected, with more than a few players shaking their heads, wondering what went wrong. The Chargers (2-2) outgained the Cards, 419 yards to 124, ran for 180 yards and sacked Anderson and Hall a combined nine times.
"We let it get out of control," Whisenhunt said. "There were a lot of things that went wrong."
Anderson completed 7-of-14 passes for 64 yards, but threw two ill-conceived interceptions that precipitated his benching. Hall, who was sacked six times, completed 8-of-14 throws for 82 yards.
Anderson acknowledged the only thing he could – "I didn't play well," he said -- while Hall, trying to carefully say the right things about possibly starting, was basic in his assessment: "I just tried to go out and execute the best I could."
Opening the game with an attempt to get the ball to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald – Fitzgerald made receptions on the first two offensive plays – Anderson actually led a solid drive to the San Diego 22-yard line.
But Tim Hightower's 22-yard touchdown run was called back for a holding call on fullback Reagan Maui'a. On the next play, Anderson forced a throw to Fitzgerald into bracketed coverage, and the safety Steve Gregory made an interception.
The Chargers answered with a quick 89-yard touchdown drive, culminating on a 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Philip Rivers to tight end Antonio Gates. It was the start of a huge day for Gates, who finished seven catches for 144 yards and two scores.
Anderson overthrew rookie wide receiver Stephen Williams on a potential 40-yard touchdown pass on the next possession. The Cards got a brief respite a few minutes later, when safety Kerry Rhodes picked up a Darren Sproles fumble and returned it 42 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
The Chargers kept coming, though, quickly driving for an answering touchdown, and never letting up. When Anderson didn't see linebacker Shaun Phillips in coverage, allowing Phillips to grab an interception and return it 31 yards for a touchdown and a 28-7 San Diego lead, Whisenhunt made the quarterback change.
"After losses like this, there really isn't too much to say," Fitzgerald said. "To not score a touchdown … we work too hard for that.
"It's not about pointing fingers. We all have to do a much better job."
The Cardinals, thanks to a less-than-dominant NFC West, remain tied for first place. The Rams beat the Seahawks Sunday to make each team's record 2-2 – same as the Cards – while the 49ers were dealt a last-second loss in Atlanta to fall to 0-4.
That silver lining felt a bit hollow on Sunday afternoon.
"At some point and time," linebacker Joey Porter said, "we have to say enough is enough."
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