Eagles Ground it Out vs. Chargers
(973espn.com) — You know your four-minute offense is good when it churns 6:44 off the clock and that's exactly what happened with the Eagles Sunday as Philadelphia held off the winless Los Angeles Chargers by a 26-24 score.
L.A. closed the gap with a brilliant touchdown reception by Hunter Henry with just under seven minutes to go but the Chargers defense, which has struggled all year defending the run simply couldn't stop the revived Eagles running game.
A week after running it 39 times in a win over the New York Giants, Philadelphia pounded it 41 times against L.A totaling 214 yards.
With the game in the balance, the Eagles got the ball back with 6:44 remaining and ran out the clock with a picture-perfect drive that started with a Carson Wentz 8-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery and finished with eight runs over the next 10 plays before two Wentz knell downs. Meanwhile, all three of the team's running back-committee, LeGarrette Blount, Wendall Smallwood and rookie Corey Clement contributed.
Blount was the star runner for 136 yards on 16 carries, including a 68-yard Beastmode-like run that ignited the 27,000 StubHub Center crowd that was filled with Eagles' supporters. Smallwood added 34 yards on 10 rushes and a TD while Clement finished with 30 yards on 10 carries.
10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
-The Eagles generally outplayed the Chargers but gave up far too many X-Plays, starting with the 75-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Williams that finally got L.A. on the board. Add in 49-yard and 50-yard gashes from Keenan Allen, and a 35-yard scoring run from Austin Ekeler in which poor gap control was the culprit and you have Jim Schwartz's teaching moment for the week.
-While Beau Allen may not be Fletcher Cox, he sure did a great impression of the Pro Bowl defensive tackle, recording his first ever NFL sack on Philip Rivers and added five more pressures. Allen might also be the Eagles' best pure interior run defender and he was a big part of the reason Philadelphia held the talented Melvin Gordon, also a former Badgers star on the college level, to 22 yards on 10 carries.
-A week after rookie kicker Jake Elliott became the most popular man in Philadelphia with a 61-yard game winner, he may have Wally Pipp-d Caleb Sturgis by banging through all four of his attempts on Sunday against the Chargers from 45, 40, 53 and 47 yards. A strong-legged kicker with consistency is what everyone is looking for.
-Remember when Blount showed no explosion in the preseason? Turn on his 68-yard Beastquake-like run where he manhandled the Chargers defense like they were children and scold yourself.
-Patrick Robinson continued his strong play in the slot and is turning out to be one of the best value signings in free agency this year. Rivers rarely even looked Robinson's way, preferring instead to attack rookie Rasul Douglas.
-Now that Stefen Wisniewski has been inserted at left guard the Eagles offensive line is starting to look like one of the best in football as advertised in the offseason.
-The unintended consequence of the Eagles' strong running game over the past two weeks has been Carson Wentz taking a step back when it comes to accuracy. Perhaps he's not getting into the same kind of a tempo with less on his plate.
-Smallwood did a solid job replacing the injured Darren Sproles as the receiving back, catching four of six targets with efficacy, generating 45 yards.
-Alshon Jeffery did start the scoring with a receiving TD but he is still not putting up WR1 numbers, managing just three catches for 29 yards. Torrey Smith, meanwhile, continues to be a non-factor on the offense, catching just one pass although it was a big one late.
-Kenjon Barner was indeed the punt returned getting three opportunities and returning one for 13 yards.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen