By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—The San Diego Chargers have come up with their own way of stopping the Eagles fast-paced, no-huddle offense—Beat up on the Birds defense and keep the offense on the field.
For the second straight week, the Eagles offense put up 30 points, but the defense gave up more than 30 points, coughing up the last three late in the fourth quarter. Nick Novak’s 46-yard field goal with seven seconds left gave the Chargers a 33-30 victory over the Eagles in the home-opener at Lincoln Financial Field.
If you’re a fan of tough, hard-nosed defense, you weren’t going to find it anywhere in this game, especially with the Eagles defense. The Chargers offense compiled 539 yards against a defense that couldn’t really stop anybody.
“Couldn’t get them off the field,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “We have to do a better job generating the pass rush. …We better make sure we can correct it. We’re going to come out against a team (against Kansas City on Thursday) that likes to throw the football and we have to be ready.”
San Diego was 10-of-15 on third down conversions, ran more plays (79-59) than the Eagles and won the time of possession battle by nearly a 2-1 margin (40:19 to 19:43). Phillip Rivers lit the Eagles defense up by throwing for 419 yards and three touchdowns while completing 36-of-47 passes.
“That is our fault. We have to get ourselves off the field,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “That is the thing about defensive football, you get yourself off the field and then you get rest. We were not making the plays on third down.
“In the first half, we weren’t making plays on first down. We have to collectively fix that and play better. It has to get better.”
The Chargers were on the field so much that they didn’t punt on fourth down until late in the third quarter. The game might have gotten away from the Eagles, if it wasn’t for a pair of red zone fumbles forced by the Eagles defense in the second quarter.
“We were fortunate to get those turnovers,” said Birds middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “Guys came up with some big plays; they were crucial times in the game—Trent Cole causing one and Brandon Boykin cause one was huge for us because they were going in and possibly score on a kicked field goal, so that of turned around and gave our offense a little more momentum.”
But the Birds defense didn’t lose the game on its own. The Eagles offense, which rolled 511 yards, missed its share of scoring opportunities with dropped passes, a crucial missed field goal by Alex Henery on the Eagles last possession of the first half, overthrown passes and untimely penalties. There were drives that should have ended with touchdowns.
“I think we can convert a little better,” said Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who had 167 total yards. “I think sometimes we get those phases in the game no matter if it’s early or late, where we move the ball and don’t get any point. Once we get past that we’ll be fine.”
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick had another big game for the Birds. He completed 24-of-37 passes for 428 yards and two touchdowns. Probably could have had an even bigger game if not for a dropped pass by Jackson and a couple of overthrows to Jackson and a penalty that negated another touchdown.
One of the biggest penalties in the game occurred after the Eagles had taken 27-23 on a seven-yard touchdown by Michael Vick in the fourth quarter. After the touchdown, wide receiver DeSean Jackson was flagged by officials for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after shoving a Chargers defender.
“I kind of lost my emotions a little bit,” said Jackson, who nine passes for 193 yards and one touchdown. “I need to do a better job of keeping my composure, but we still had an opportunity to go out there and come back and score.”
The 15-yard penalty forced the Eagles to kickoff the ball from midfield. Making matters worse, the Eagles couldn’t recover a Chargers fumble that was eventually recovered by San Diego at the Philadelphia 39.
Seven plays later, Rivers hit wide receiver Eddie Royal with the go-ahead touchdown to give San Diego a 30-27 lead. The Eagles would tie the game at 30-30 on a 32-yard field goal by Henery with a 1:51 left.
The Chargers moved 51 yards in seven plays to Novak’s winning field goal.