GLENDALE, Ariz. – Chandler Catanzaro hit a 44-yard field goal at the end of the first half, giving the Arizona Cardinals a 6-3 lead over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night.
Neither team could get much going in a defense-dominated first half.
Catanzaro hit his first career field goal early in the second quarter, a 22-yarder after the Cardinals stalled inside the San Diego 15.
The Chargers struggled to move the ball before finally getting a big play midway through the second quarter, when Jerry Attaochu broke through and blocked Drew Butler's punt. San Diego took over at Arizona's 17-yard line, but settled for Nick Novak's 36-yard field goal.
San Diego was driving late in the second quarter, but Philip Rivers was intercepted by Jerraud Powers with under a minute left. The Cardinals ran two plays to set up Catanzaro's second field goal at the halftime horn.
The Chargers and Cardinals began the day hoping to build on turnaround seasons.
San Diego had a superb first season under rookie coach Mike McCoy, finishing 9-7 to end a three-year playoff drought.
Rivers had a resurgent season in 2013 and the Chargers have plenty of playmakers, including star tight end Antonio Gates, three quality running backs and receiver Keenan Allen, who led all NFL rookies in every significant receiving category.
With some key offseason acquisitions, San Diego is looking to go deeper in the playoffs this season.
The Cardinals finished with a better record than the Chargers at 10-6 under first-year coach Bruce Arians, yet missed the playoffs in the deep NFC.
Arizona had a little tougher offseason.
Starting linebacker Karlos Dansby was lost to free agency and Daryl Washington, who started alongside him last season, has been suspended for the year. The Cardinals also lost starting defensive tackle Darnell Dockett to a torn ACL during fall camp and Tyrann Mathieu, who showed flashes of star quality as a rookie last season, was not ready for the opener after tearing two knee ligaments late last season.
Arizona still has Palmer, who should be better with a year of Arians' system under his belt, and got good news when running back Andre Ellington was able to play Monday night after injuring his left foot last week.