Well, if you are a fan of offense then this game did not disappoint. As opposed to the Thursday night game between the Patriots and Jets where there was a grand total of 21 punts, there were only four punts in this game. The two teams combined for 1,050 total yards of offense and the two quarterbacks threw for 400+ yards and produced three touchdowns. The two offensive lines dominated up front; that is to say they protected both Michael Vick and Philip Rivers well. It was not a good day to be a defensive back, as corners were getting torched left and right in this contest. DeSean Jackson grabbed 9 balls for 193 yards and a touchdown. He was consistently beating Shareece Wright over the top, and Jackson actually missed out on even more yards. He had chance to grab four other 30+ yard bombs, but two were overthrown, one reception he made (for a touchdown) was nullified because of an illegal formation penalty, and one was caught out of bounds. For San Diego, Malcolm Floyd caught five balls for 102 yards (all in the first half). Unfortunately he left the game early in the third quarter with a head injury. Antonio Gates did drop a couple of passes (including one in the end zone), but the ones he did catch were big ones (8-124). In short, this was an extremely entertaining game that came down to a last second field goal. Now, let’s really dig into this nail-biter.
To start the game, the Eagles took the ball right down the field but a 6-yard sack by Jarius Wynn stalled their opening drive. Philip Rivers then slowly marched his team down the field and the Bolts capped an eight play 4:25 drive with a field goal. The Eagles would quickly answer with a field goal of their own on the following drive with the help of a 70-yard LeSean McCoy reception. Michael Vick flipped a pass into the flat to James Casey for what appeared to be a touchdown, however the ball slipped loose and the Eagles had to settle for a 25-yard field goal. San Diego’s next drive ended in a touchdown. Rivers and his team were eating the clock and waiting until there was under five seconds left on the play-clock to snap the ball. They did adopt the no-huddle tactic that the Eagles were employing so as to discourage defensive substitutions. The drive concluded in an Eddie Royal 11-yard touchdown reception; his first of three on the afternoon. After forcing another Philly punt, the Chargers added a second field goal to bring the score to 13-3. An 18-yard Cary Williams pass interference penalty gave San Diego some extra yards along the way.
Philadelphia really cranked up the tempo on their fourth drive of the game. In only 1:20, the Eagles went right down the field for a touchdown. DeSean Jackson had two catches for 58 yards on the drive. Riley Cooper ended the drive by snaring a back-shoulder laser beam from the left arm of Vick for a 13 yard TD. The Chargers then drove back down the field and nearly walked in for another touchdown, but Brandon Boykin slapped the ball out of Antonio Gates’ arm at the two yard line as he was sprinting towards the goal line. After a three-and-out, the Eagles recovered another fumble inside the red zone. This time it was Trent Cole who knocked the ball loose. With :52 left in the half and two timeouts, Philadelphia did not sit on the ball. They were aggressive and moved down the field into Alex Henery range, but he missed a 46 yarder going into halftime, so the score stayed frozen at 13-10.
The second half turned out to be a fireworks display. Instead of going through the second half drive by drive, I will list all of the scoring drives. So take a deep breath, hear we go: Philip Rivers hit Eddie Royal (who was wide open on a third and 10 situation) for a 24 yard touchdown to bring the score to 20-10 (the drive lasted 11 plays and nearly five minutes). The Eagles answered with a 48 yard field goal. Settling for three here hurt because Philly could have brought the score to 20-17 had it not been for an illegal formation penalty wiping out a 37 yard touchdown reception by DeSean Jackson. Anyways, the Philadelphia tied the game at 20 apiece on their next drive courtesy of a 61 yard pitch from Vick to Jackson down the right sideline. The Chargers regained the lead on their next drive with a 33 yard field goal (this came after a 17-play, 8:55 drive). Philly then tore through the San Diego defense again and took the lead 27-23 on the strength of a Mike Vick 2 yard touchdown scamper. It was Philip Rivers’ turn to respond, and that he did as he hooked up with Eddie Royal for a 15-yard touchdown on a well blocked screen. The game ended with each team zipping down the field and adding field goals. Nick Novak made good on his fourth attempt with only :07 left in the game. As it turns out, even Philadelphia cannot score in seven seconds, so the 33-30 final score held and it cemented a solid win on the east coast in impressive fashion.
In hindsight, we now know that both of these teams actually missed out on scoring some more points. The 33-30 game actually could have been a 47-45 game; heck, the two teams combined for enough yards and big plays to warrant such a shootout. In reality, the Chargers did edge Philly by controlling the tempo of the game. They were wasting as much time as they could on the offensive side of the ball, hence their 40:17 lead in time of possession. Now that the Chip Kelly era is two weeks old, it is clear that the Eagles will have a great offense. The real problem will be their defense; the unit was only able to force one punt and surrendered 539 yards of offense to San Diego. Philadelphia was unable to get much pressure on Rivers all game and he stood in the pocket and picked them apart. Blitz pickups were great by the Chargers O-line, and the running backs did a great job stuffing the Mike blitzers in the hole. I thought that Philip Rivers proved he can be an elite quarterback if he is afforded ample time to pass. Despite his lack of weapons, he was still able to pass for 419 yards and three touchdowns. On the flip side of the ball, the Eagle offense certainly was dynamic. They picked up 511 yards of offense despite holding the ball for less than 20 minutes in the game. Michael Vick threw for a career high 428 yards and did not turn the ball over. This 3-4 defense is going to be a real problem this year for Chip Kelly and Billy Davis. The Eagles may end up having to outscore all of their opponents this year to pick up their victories. Philadelphia will stay home to play its third game in eleven days when the 2-0 Chiefs come to town this Thrusday night. Meanwhile, the Bolts will head down to Tennessee and take on a hard-nosed Titan team that has taken Pittsburgh and Houston to the limit in the first two weeks of the year. This was a huge victory for the Chargers and really this team could be 2-0 if they had been able to avoid a major collapse at home vs. those Texans. As it stands, both Philly and San Diego are 1-1. Also, both have great offenses and questionable defenses. Rookie head coaches Chip Kelly and Mike McCoy now have something to build on as the teams look to elevate to 2-1 in Week 3.