The Eagles clung to a two-point lead Sunday with 6:44 left. Jim Schwartz’s defense had lost momentum to tantrum-thrower Philip Rivers, who’d just engineered consecutive 75-yard TD drives.
Once again, a win was in jeopardy. The Eagles got the ball with 404 seconds left and then. . .
1st and 10 at PHI 25 – (6:44 left) Wentz pass short right to Jeffery for 8 yards.
2nd and 2 at PHI 33 – (6:07) Clement sweeps right end for 6 yards (1st down).
You judge a young QB by poise under pressure, and Carson Wentz exuded that Sunday. The goal on this drive was to hold the ball, kill clock, make no mistakes. Wentz, clearly, was in charge. Throughout the day, he checked out of pass plays when he saw the better opportunity on a run.
Wentz’s stats were decent — 17-of-31 for 242 yards and a touchdown. He had no turnovers, escaped sacks and won a second straight one-score contest. These things matter – consider that the Eagles won only one game last season that finished within seven points.
1st and 10 at PHI 39 – (5:23) Smallwood off right tackle for 3 yards.
2nd and 7 at PHI 42 – (4:38) Wentz pass short middle to Ertz for 5 yards.
3rd and 2 at PHI 47 – (3:55) Clement up the middle for 2 yards (1st down).
With Darren Sproles gone, we wondered how Doug Pederson would use his RBs. The coach employed a three-headed monster Sunday, awarding double-digit carries to LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and rookie Corey Clement.
The Eagles ran for 214 yards, giving them 407 the past two games. Give credit to Pederson, for resisting his Andy Reid pass-always instincts. Give credit to Howie Roseman, for signing and keeping Clement as an undrafted free agent.
And give credit to an offensive line – rotating left guards and all – that excels at run blocking. As the Eagles ground out yards on this last drive, Jason Kelce and Stefen Wisniewski hustled down field to rub out would-be tacklers.
1st and 10 at PHI 49 – (3:10) Wentz pass short left to Smith for 9 yards.
2nd and 1 at LAC 42 – (2:26) Smallwood up the middle for no gain. (TO, Chargers)
3rd and 1 at LAC 42 – (2:22) Clement up the middle for 4 yards. (TO Chargers)
At this point, you could sense the Eagles’ confidence rise. Wide receivers threw key blocks. Defensive players rose from the bench to cheer. The Chargers sagged and started burning time-outs.
And the crowd . . . well, that’s the thing. The Chargers move to Los Angeles gives them no home field advantage. The small soccer stadium was filled with green-clad fans who turned this into the Eagles 9th home game.
“We heard them the whole time,” said Kelce. “When people cheer like that 3,000 miles away from home, you can’t imagine what a lift it gives the entire team.”
1st and 10 at LAC 38 – (2:18) Blount sweeps right tackle for 3 yards.
2nd and 7 at LAC 35 – (2:00) Blount left end for 6 yards. (TO Chargers)
3rd and 1 at LAC 29 – (1:54) Blount up middle for 15 yards.
Sunday’s biggest story was Blount. Two weeks ago, he was inexplicably shunned by Pederson and had no carries. Since then, the veteran back has “run angry,” according to guard Brandon Brooks. In Sunday’s 4th quarter, he carried eight times for 88 yards, including a 68-yard rumble that brutalized the entire Chargers defense.
After Blount’s last run to the Chargers’ 29, the Eagles ran out the clock with two kneel downs. As Wentz said afterward, “You always want to end with a touchdown or in victory formation.”
That last drive – 404 seconds – showed a team with poise and talent. They got the ball and never gave it back. That’s what good teams do.