Chargers Have ‘All Around’ Win in All Three Phases Against Eagles
On Sunday, the Chargers (5-3) pulled out the 27-24 narrow victory over the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6). There is more to this victory. It was obviously a strong performance from quarterback Justin Herbert and receiver Keenan Allen, but this game might have been different.
This was as close as a "must-win" for the Chargers, who started the day knowing that the Las Vegas Raiders were in first place in the division but ended with them once again sitting at the top with just two divisional victories separating them.
Coming into the game, the Chargers were without starting cornerbacks Michael Davis (hamstring) and Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) because of their injuries. The defense started Chris Harris Jr., Tevaughn Campbell, and Ryan Smith at cornerback.
They had some solid moments but let rookie receiver Devonta Smith go off for 116 yards and one touchdown. In all fairness, no other receiver had a significant impact.
"This is the NFL when you were down two starters at corner, and the deck is stacked against you like that you got to respond, and this was the Chargers win today," Chargers head coach Brandon Staley explained. "We needed to come in here and play a game on defense without two of our best guys. That's what we did today."
Staley has been waiting for a game like this since the season started from his unit.
The secondary stepped up without their two starters.
Moving to the offensive side of the football. There had been much made the last two weeks about how the offensive lines right side had become terrible and how maybe they should look to switch them out.
"I loved our protection plan today, no sacks against a really, really good front," Staley explained. "My hat's off to Frank Smith, John Sarrett, Joe Lombardi, Shane Day, and our entire offensive staff because we kept them off-balance today. On that last drive, I thought that was a good example of that."
They didn't allow a single sack today against a front four featuring Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave, and Derek Barnett.
"The offensive line did a great job blocking all game, and I don't think we had any sacks today," Herbert said. "So, I think that's huge, and we were effective on third down, especially on fourth down as well. When you get time with receivers like those guys on the outside, they do a great job getting open."
The offensive line was a big reason why the offense was able to drive 64 yards on 15 plays on the game's final drive.
"Holding the ball for six minutes, ending the game on our terms with the ball... it feels like we just took over," Allen said. "That's pretty much what it was, just take over at the end of the game, and that's when games are won."
Speaking of guys getting open, the tight end unit for the Chargers stepped up on Sunday. They had been relatively quiet during the two-game losing streak, and they really turned it on.
Jared Cook, Donald Parham, and Stephen Anderson combined for 126 yards and two touchdown receptions.
"That's what you got to do to be a tough team to defend is you want them to be able to respect everybody who's out there," Staley said. "Again, my hat's off to Joe Lombardi. I felt like he called a fantastic game."
Lastly, the Chargers special teams were a big part of the victory. It seems like the two big signings for the team midway made the biggest difference on Sunday. Kick returner Andre Roberts had four returns for 96 yards setting his offense up with good field position.
"I really felt our special teams unit for the first time this season where I felt like we had an advantage today. I felt like we've been coaching really hard Derius (Swinton), Mayur (Chaudhari), and our staff and then to certainly finish it with a game-winner with it with our new kicker. You can't script it much better than that."
Kicker Dustin Hopkins made two field goals and hit the 29-yard game-winner.
"It feels amazing," Allen said. "Walk-off field goal? Nothing better."
This was a three-phase victory for the Chargers, and it was what Staley had been waiting for since September.
The offense, though, was not doing so hot the last two games, and it turned around on Sunday…maybe for good.
"We clicked I thought pretty well today," Allen explained. "Just as an offensive team. I think we could just build on that offensively. The sky's the limit. I mentioned it earlier in the week as soon as we get clicking, it is going to be scary."