Fumble recovery, interception that weren't hurt Arizona Cardinals in loss to Chargers

The Arizona Cardinals saw a much-needed victory slip from their grasp for reasons beyond a late Los Angeles Chargers touchdown and two-point conversion that gave the visitors a 25-24 win at State Farm Stadium Sunday.

They felt they’d come up with two turnovers long before the Chargers’ fateful game-winning drive that could have been the difference in a close game.

In the second quarter, cornerback Trayvon Mullen stripped the ball from the Chargers’ Joshua Palmer after a catch. The ball went to the ground, where Michael Bandy of Los Angeles reached out and grabbed it first.

Mullen reached in and appeared to take the ball away from Bandy before a pileup ensued. On the field, the play was ruled a fumble and turnover to the Cardinals.

Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer (5) catches a pass and fumbles between Arizona Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins (25) and cornerback Trayvon Mullen (21) in the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2022; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer (5) catches a pass and fumbles between Arizona Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins (25) and cornerback Trayvon Mullen (21) in the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Then came a replay review. The call was changed to a Chargers recovery, and Los Angeles retained possession.

Six plays later, Herbert found Keenan Allen for a short touchdown pass. Instead of Cardinals ball with a 10-point lead, with a chance for more points, the Chargers had cut the lead to 10-7.

“I feel we were supposed to have the ball, but it is what it is,” Mullen said after the game. “I can’t say too much about it. I heard ‘Arizona ball.’”

And then it wasn’t.

NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson was interviewed for a postgame pool report and asked about both turnovers that were overturned.

“The first thing that we had to do was to confirm that the initial receiver did complete the process of the catch, which he did. Then we had a fumble and we had a clear view of No. 83 of the Chargers (Bandy) 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,” Anderson said. “The Chargers player reached with one hand and brought the ball underneath him and then his other hand came in. He had control of the ball on the ground. In that situation we had a good look at the ball for a long period of time. At best for (Mullen) it would’ve been simultaneous control, but because the Chargers were the offensive team then it would by rule be awarded to them had we deemed it simultaneous possession.”

Inside Cardinals:What we learned about the Arizona Cardinals from the loss to the L.A. Chargers

Somers:Kingsbury and his offense are mostly to blame for loss to Chargers

Replay also overturned another apparent turnover in favor of the Chargers, this time in the fourth quarter. On third-and-13 with 7:45 to play, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert tried to force a pass to Palmer that Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins stepped in front of for what looked like an interception.

It would have given the Cardinals the ball in Chargers territory with a 24-17 lead, with a chance to extend that lead and maybe put the Chargers away.

The interception ruling was reviewed, and the call was changed to an incomplete pass. Replays seemed inconclusive that the ball actually touched the ground; nevertheless, the Chargers retained possession and punted.

The Cardinals couldn’t run time off the clock with longer possessions, and the Chargers took advantage of one final possession to win the game.

“I thought I caught it clean… Usually you can feel when the ball hits the ground based off when you catch it because you'll feel the ball like ricochet off the ground,” Collins said. “I didn't feel any of that. So, I mean, there's nothing you can do about it. Whatever they saw in New York, they thought happened and that's what happened.”

Collins figured the turnover would have changed the game, confident that the Cardinals would take a two-score lead.

Anderson was asked about the Collins play.

“It was clear that the ball touched the ground before his hands ended up getting control of the ball,” he said.

The Cardinals didn’t lose the game on those calls. They lost when the offense stalled for much of the fourth quarter and the defense couldn’t make one last stop.

They could only be frustrated at what could have been.

“Apparently, they said, we took it from them, which I hadn't seen that called yet this season,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said of the Mullen play. “And then the interception, they felt like it hit the ground.”

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Cardinals on wrong end of close calls involving replay in loss