SAN DIEGO (AP) When Ryan Mathews scampered 20 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter, the San Diego Chargers led the Arizona Cardinals by 11 points.
When the game ended, the Cardinals walked off with an 18-17 victory.
Too many dropped passes, a botched snap and numerous defensive breakdowns doomed the Chargers, who lost their second opener in a row under coach Mike McCoy after leading by double digits in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers now face the daunting task of hosting the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, who dominated the Green Bay Packers 36-16 on Thursday night.
''We've got to minimize the mistakes,'' McCoy said Tuesday. ''We made way too many mistakes, little things in the game yesterday. Against a good football team that's coming here on Sunday, you can't give them the opportunities. You've got to put them away when you have the chance.''
A loss Sunday would give the Chargers their first 0-2 start since 2008, the second year of the Norv Turner era.
The Chargers haven't played the Seahawks in the regular season since Sept. 26, 2010, when five turnovers and two long kickoff returns for touchdowns led to a 27-20 Seattle victory.
Even so, the Chargers have firsthand experience at how Russell Wilson and the Seahawks can shred an opponent.
In the second exhibition game this season, Wilson threw for 121 yards and ran for two touchdowns, leading Seattle to scores on all four of his possessions as the Seahawks beat the Chargers 41-14.
In the 2013 exhibition opener, the Seahawks looked every bit like a team worthy of big expectations, beating San Diego 31-10.
So, add in more mistakes and Sunday could be a long home opener for the Bolts.
One of the killers Monday night came when Rivers fumbled a shotgun snap from Rich Ohrnberger, who had replaced the injured Nick Hardwick. What had been a third-and-8 from the Arizona 29 turned into a fourth-and-22 from the 43 with seven minutes left, knocking the Bolts out of field-goal range and forcing them to punt while leading 17-12.
That set up a drive capped by John Brown's winning 13-yard touchdown reception with 2:25 left.
The defense also had its shortcomings, failing to sack Carson Palmer despite having three straight shots at him.
''Unfortunately in the fourth quarter we didn't play our best football, in all phases of the game,'' McCoy said.
''Against a good football team you've got to make the plays that present themselves and not make the critical mistakes throughout the entire game. Those little mistakes start to add up and at the end of the game you look back and you're sick to your stomach because that's a game you've got to win.''
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