Hollywood Brown was back on the field. That was good. It was good to pair him with DeAndre Hopkins.
It was going to be difficult to explore that after a heartbreaking loss like Sunday, however.
"It felt like we were fine, we just didn't make enough plays to get it done," Brown said.
Both worked within the slot at times, and there were a couple plays – like Hopkins' 29-yard catch late in the third quarter, that the two lined up near each other and made the defense pick their poison. Brown had more catches – six to four – but Hop had 87 yards compared to Brown's 46 and Hop's 33-yard catch-spin-and-run touchdown was a thing of beauty.
It may not have been as beautiful as his fourth-quarter, one-handed four-yard catch of an errant Kyler Murray throw that seemed destined to make all the highlight shows. Unfortunately it came on one of those three-and-out drives that in the end doomed the Cards.
But they have Hop and Hollywood together, and it was fun to watch, and should help the offense the balance of the season.
"It felt good to have them back out there," Murray said. "There were some things we wish we could have back, but to have them back out there on the same field, that was the first time actually. It was good to see them both in action."
-- The two overturned plays – taking away a fumble recovery from cornerback Trayvon Mullen and an interception from linebacker Zaven Collins – proved huge. Here are the comments on each from Mullen, Collins, and referee Walt Anderson.
Mullen: "I heard Arizona ball in the (pile). … I feel like we were supposed to have the ball. But it is what it is. It's one play and we didn't get it. It is what it is, but I can't say too much about it."
Anderson on the near-fumble: "We had a clear view of No. 83 of the Chargers that secured control of the ball while it was on the ground in his hands. An Arizona player ended up getting his hands in there, but the Chargers player had hold of the ball on the ground and therefore he is down by contact at that point with control. … The Chargers player reached with one hand and brought the ball underneath him."
Collins: "My hand was under the ball in between my hand and chest and when I fell to the floor, the ball squeezed, and my chest came off the ball and then my hands brought it up. I think the referees saw it at a funny angle, I don't think it ever touched the ground, but from that angle the ball looked like it touched the ground. It's supposed to be undeniable evidence that it wasn't a catch so that sucks there."
Anderson on the near-interception: "We had a good view facing the defender as he was going to the ground. We saw that the ball hit the ground before he ended up getting control of the ball with his hands."
-- What was stunning about the fourth-quarter offensive troubles was that the drive that preceded them – starting late in the third and bleeding into the fourth for the go-ahead touchdown – was so efficient. The first play was a perfect, patient, pocket throw for 29 yards to Hopkins, James Conner had a fourth-and-1 bullrush up the middle for four yards, and it looked like the Cardinals were in control.
-- Both Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury downplayed the NFL Network report that things had been tense between them and the two weeks Murray was out the pair worked out some things.
"There was no tension," Murray said. "This whole season has not gone the way anyone wanted or envisioned it to go. Between me and him though, we're good."
Said Kingsbury, "We've been good. When you're not winning obviously everybody's going to be a little on edge, but I thought he played really well today."
-- Kingsbury was asked if he was concerned about his job security. "I'm not."
-- Robbie Anderson made only his second catch for the Cardinals, and his first for positive yardage – a 17-yard grab in the first half. His first catch had been a screen that lost four yards.
-- Greg Dortch was out with his bad thumb, and practice-squad man Pharoh Cooper did a nice job as a return man. Cooper, who returned to the team after a stint in 2019, was a one-time Pro Bowl return man and he still has those skills. A 15-yard punt return helped set up a Matt Prater field-goal drive.
-- Cooper was the 77th player the Cardinals have used in a game this season, most in the NFL and the exclamation point of all their injuries.
-- Speaking of field goals, given the one-point loss, it would've been nice to have the 49-yard field goal Prater missed – but frankly, the Cardinals shouldn't have needed it.
-- Rookie tight end Trey McBride is most certainly still a work-in-progress. At this point, you hope the snaps he is getting generate something good next season.
-- The Cardinals inserted Max Garcia back into the lineup at right guard, with rookie Lecitus Smith going to the bench.
-- J.J. Watt got a sack, bring his total to 6½ this season – half-a-sack more than he totaled in 2020 and 2021.
-- Quote of the night was from Murray, who was asked about the deep shot to Hopkins on fourth-and-1 in the first half that was intercepted by safety Derwin James. (It should be noted on a fourth-and-1 in the second half, the Cards put Murray under center – where he was more often this game than any other – and handed the ball to Conner for a four-yard plunge up the middle.)
Murray said the Hopkins pass wasn’t designed to be a Hopkins pass.
"Schematically, they … we were kind of (f*ed)," Murray said.
That's it for tonight.