Unimpressive start

The Green Bay Packers opened their exhibition season Saturday night with a 17-3 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The Chargers dominated the Packers from start to finish, sending new coach Mike McCarthy and his team back to the drawing board.

The Mike McCarthy era opened with a thud Saturday night in San Diego. The upstart Packers were soundly out-played by the well-oiled Chargers and dropped their exhibition opener.

San Diego's Philip Rivers threw for 169 yards and led the Chargers on two early scoring drives in a 17-3 victory over the Packers. The Chargers, expected by many to contend for the AFC West Division title this season, dominated the Packers in all three areas – offense, defense and special teams.

The Packers were sluggish on offense, especially early on, and were inconsistent on defense. Special teams recovered an onside kick, which provided a spark in the third quarter, and Billy Cundiff made a 23-yard field goal to account for Green Bay's only points in the game.

"Number one, this is our first game together," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "We're 0-1, and the way we played tonight is where we are as a football team. It's disappointing we didn't win, but trust me, we'll line up Monday (in practice) and get back to work."

Brett Favre completed 5 of 10 passes for 66 yards and was sacked twice on consecutive plays in the first quarter. He came out of the game early in the second after the Packers were unable to convert a fourth-and-2 inside San Diego's 20-yard line.

Aaron Rogers, Green Bay's first pick in the 2005 draft and Favre's heir apparent, was 9-of-11 for 124 yards and one interception while playing nearly half the game. Rivers and the Chargers dominated throughout, especially on offense. The Chargers ran 71 offensive plays to 49 for the Packers. San Diego also had the ball for nearly 36 minutes to 24 for Green Bay. The Packers were held to 44 yards rushing for the game.

"First of all you want to start fast and we did not start that way tonight," McCarthy said. "A lot of our problems were self-inflicted and we need to get that cleaned up."

Rivers, who became the Chargers' starter when they let Drew Brees leave for New Orleans, played all but one play of the first half. He completed 15 of his first 16 passes (21 total attempts) for 169 yards and a touchdown. Rivers connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson on San Diego's opening series to cap a 64-yard drive, then engineered an 18-play, 86-yard march the first time they had the ball in the second quarter.

Favre and Green Bay's first-team offense were held to four first downs in four series in the first half as the Packers fell behind 14-0. Green Bay ran the ball nine times in the first half, and two of the runs were by Rodgers. Starting running back Najeh Davenport had six carries for 12 yards behind Green Bay's offensive line, which started two rookie guards – Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz – and third-year center Scott Wells.

After being forced to punt on its first three series of the game, the Packers moved 73 yards to San Diego's 14. Favre's 28-yard pass to Robert Ferguson, who made a spectacular, leaping catch along the left sideline, and Favre's 8-yard pass to rookie Greg Jennings got Green Bay to the 14. But McCarthy opted to go for it on fourth-and-two, and Jennings dropped a pass from Favre that would have been a first down. San Diego, which dominated the first half, went 86 yards against the Packers' second-string defense in the next 10:44 and went ahead 14-0 on running back Michael Turner's 13-yard touchdown run. San Diego converted three third downs in the drive. Rivers engineered a five-play, 64-yard drive to start the game, and the Chargers took a 7-0 lead on wide receiver Vincent Jackson's diving catch in the end zone past cornerback Ahmad Carroll for a 22-yard touchdown.

The Chargers led in time of possession 18:03 to 11:57 and out-gained the Packers 204 total yards to 83 in the first half.

Rivers, a former North Carolina State standout, threw for more yards - and equaled his touchdown total - in the first half of the exhibition victory than he had combined during his four career appearances during the NFL regular season.

As Brees' backup the past two years, Rivers was 17-of-30 for 148 yards, with one touchdown.

San Diego built its lead to 17-0 on a 23-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding late in the third quarter. Cundiff finally put the Packers on the board with a 23-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Tight end Ryan Krause had six catches for 64 yards, and Jackson had four for 46 and the touchdown for the Chargers.

Each team played without its top running backs. Green Bay's Ahman Green did not make the trip to San Diego. Green is recovering from a ruptured quadriceps sustained last October. San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who rarely plays during the preseason, sat out the game.

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