Both the Eagles' offense and defense looked at times unstopabble. And at times futile and weak.
And even though they relented some ugly, costly and potentially detrimental big plays throughout their 26-24 victory over the Chargers Sunday, the grit and effectiveness of a balanced offense shone through. Philly iced the game thanks to a methodical time consuming drive at the end of the game that held on to the ball and the lead.
The Eagles ran the ball 42 times for 214 yards, led by 136 yards for LeGarrette Blount and also earned 242 through the air on the arm of Carson Wentz, in the game in front of what sounded like a home crowd at the Stubhub Center. The defense, a patchwork with several key players still injured, did just enough to lift them to 3-1.
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Third down thunder
The best team on third down in football heading into the game, Philly converted 9-of-16 opportunites in an impressive offensive display of control. Wentz lobbed a beautiful 36-yard pass to Nelson Agholor after stepping up in traffic on a key third down, leading two plays later to a eight-yard Alshon Jeffery touchdown reception. The Eagles also ran the ball with confidence on third down, continuing the success they saw a week ago rushing the ball 39 times against the Giants.
In the second, Wentz again found Wendell Smallwood on a 12-yard scamper to convert a key third down, putting Philly in field goal range to set up Jake Elliott's third field goal, and extend the team's lead to 16-7.
Later in the third, after failing on third down Carson Wentz lunged forward to convert on fourth and one. The risky conversion led to another Elliott three-pointer and a nine-point lead.
A combination Chargers big plays and three-and outs and Eagles offensive consistency led to a big time of possession advantage, yet again, putting the Birds firmly atop the NFL in the statistic — one that former head coach Chip Kelly despised during his time here. The Eagles also had 26 first downs and had the ball for nearly 20 more minutes than their opponent, a true west coast offense in L.A.
Wentz leads the NFL in fumbles over the last two seasons, but also in recovered fimbles. Even so, the quarterback was able to give Elliott his first opportunity to add to the Eagles' early lead after the self-recovered fumble, which he drilled to put Philly up 10-0 after 15 minutes and a second quarter field goal to add three more after a solid but shakey Eagles drive.
The secondary's gaping, Ronald Darby shaped hole was apparent later in the first half, as Rivers connected with Tyrell Williams on a 75-yard bomb to cut Philly's lead to 13-7. Another bomb to Keenan Allen for 49-yards set up a field goal before the half ended.
A third quick strike came in the fourth when Austin Ekeler scored his first career touchdown on a 35-yard touchdown run that closed a Philly lead from nine to two. And a fourth came on a 50-yard Allen recpetion that set up a Hunter Henry touchdown catch in the back of the end zone.
Rush rush rush
Without Fletcher Cox lining up on the defensive line the Birds' didnt miss a beat. In an early show of pass rush dominance, the Eagles' front seven took advantage of incessant pressure on Phillip Rivers early. Chris Long lunged at the Chargers QB behind dislodging the ball, which Philly recovered.
The Eagles pressure was effective in pressuring Rivers and forcing more than a half dozen passes thrown away as he scampered out of the takle box.
They rushed in another way too, as the Eagles, led by Blount and his 68-yard Thor-like powerful run in the fourth. Blount's highlight-reel run led to an eventual Smallwood touchdown run to put the team's lead back to two possessions.