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What we learned from the Chargers' 45-10 win over the Cardinals

What we learned from the Chargers' 45-10 win over the Cardinals
Chargers safety Derwin James intercepts a pass from Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen in the second quarter at StubHub Center on Nov.25. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

What we learned from the Chargers 45-10 victory Sunday over Arizona:

THE DENVER LOSS DID NOT LINGER

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Before Sunday, the Chargers talked about ridding themselves of the memory of losing badly to Denver, and they more than backed up the talk. After a slow first quarter, they outscored the Cardinals 45-0 in a performance about as one-sided as can be in the NFL. “This gave us our confidence back,” wide receiver Keenan Allen said. “This is definitely what we wanted to do coming off of last week, to get back on track.” A week ago, the Chargers lost 23-22 to the Broncos at StubHub Center behind a series of blunders. After the sleepy start Sunday, they dominated with their defense and quarterback Philip Rivers. “They signed up to play for four quarters, and that’s what they did,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “It wasn’t all pretty. They started out a little slow, but we made some adjustments, guys responded, they executed and we came away with the win.”

JOEY BOSA ALREADY IS GAINING MOMENTUM

In just his second game of the season, the Chargers’ Pro Bowl defensive end had two sacks and offered a glimpse of how much of a difference he can make up front. Asked if Bosa appeared to be fully healthy, Lynn said, “He looked like it today. He had a couple sacks. He had more snaps. I think the more he plays the better he’s going to get.” Bosa missed the first nine games because of a foot injury. He returned last week and played 31 snaps in the Denver defeat. Bosa finished with five tackles Sunday, which was third on the team. He had not had a sack since Dec. 31, 2017, the Chargers’ final game last season, a 30-10 victory over Oakland.

THIS DEFENSE CAN DOMINATE

The Chargers made Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen look like a rookie in limiting him to 105 passing yards on 12 completions. After the first quarter, Rosen had only six completions for 26 yards. Arizona finished with 149 total yards, 108 of which came in the first quarter. In other words, once the second quarter began, the defense swallowed the Cardinals whole. “After those first 12 minutes of the game,” Lynn said, “our defense was hot.” The defense helped swing the game by holding Arizona to a field goal attempt after a Rivers fumble at the Chargers’ 35-yard line in the second quarter. When Phil Dawson missed the kick, it was an added bonus. “That drive where they did the sudden [possession] change, that was huge for our football team,” Lynn said. “The momentum right there, it just shifted on our sidelines. That was huge.”

THESE RECEIVERS HAVE SOME HANDS

It is hard to remember now, but early this season drops from the Chargers receivers were an issue. Not so much on Sunday. Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler and Sean Culkin — yes, the third-string tight end — all made notable grabs, some of them genuinely acrobatic. That’s part of the reason Rivers finished a ridiculous 28 of 29. “Numerous guys did a heck of a job catching the football,” Rivers said. “That’s why I always say ‘we.’ ‘We’ completed those. The guys up front blocked and ran the ball efficiently. It was a lot of good things.”

FOR NOW, AT LEAST, THE KICKING THING ISN’T A THING

Michael Badgley introduced zero additional drama into a game that had none at all after the middle of the second quarter. The rookie made all six of his extra points and his only field goal attempt, a 31-yard shot that ended the scoring. He is now 16 for 17 on extra points and nine for nine on field goals. Badgley took over the job full-time after the Chargers released Caleb Sturgis early this month. He has now set a franchise record for the most points scored by a kicker (43) through the first five games of a career without a missed field goal. The 43 points also are the most by a Chargers kicker through five career games with the team.

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