Blount drives Eagles to victory
CARSON, Calif. — LeGarrette Blount burst through the line, escaped an ankle tackle and shoved into the secondary, where he stiff-armed a Chargers rookie twice to cap a rampaging 68-yard run .
“From my vantage point, it was one of the most impressive runs I’ve seen in my life,” quarterback Carson Wentz said.
The Philadelphia Eagles are off to a tenacious start after another smash-mouth victory in a road stadium that felt like home.
Wentz passed for 242 yards, Blount rushed for 136 and the Eagles jumped to a big early lead before hanging on for a 26-24 victory over the winless Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Rookie Jake Elliott kicked four field goals for the Eagles (3-1), who had thousands of vocal fans in the Chargers’ temporary arena while they won on the road for the second time in 10 tries. Those fans roared their approval particularly after Philadelphia ran out the game with a bruising 13-play drive over the final 6:44, simply refusing to give a final chance to the Chargers’ offense.
“Even though we’re four games in, this team is really beginning to believe in themselves, believe in each other,” coach Doug Pederson said.
Playing without Fletcher Cox and several injured defensive regulars, the Eagles matched last season’s 3-1 start. They did it with an impressive running game: Blount combined with Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement to rush for 200 yards, with Blount picking up 88 yards in the fourth quarter, along with the clinching first down on that clock-chewing drive.
“I had a pretty good day,” Blount said after his biggest day yet for his new team. “Running behind the O-line I run behind, it’s pretty hard not to have a good day.”
Rookie Austin Ekeler rushed for a 35-yard score on his first NFL carry and Hunter Henry made a one-handed TD catch during the Chargers’ fourth-quarter surge.
Philadelphia ran out the clock after Henry’s TD catch, making a time-consuming drive that ended in the Victory formation.
Philip Rivers passed for 347 yards and two TDs for the Chargers, who have lost nine consecutive games dating to last season in San Diego.
Tyrell Williams caught a 75-yard touchdown pass , but the Chargers are off to their first 0-4 start since 2003 — three years before Rivers became their starting quarterback. New coach Anthony Lynn is still winless after Los Angeles’ new team wrapped up a three-game homestand.
“Never in a million years (had) I thought we’d be here at 0-4, but we are,” Lynn said. “I look at football in four quarters, just like the game, and we just stunk the first quarter of our season. We’ve got three quarters left to figure some things out and get this turned around.”
Blount’s 68-yard run eventually led to Smallwood’s TD dive with 9:14 to play after a penalty on Los Angeles’ Darius Philon kept the Eagles alive.
Henry made it 26-24, but the Eagles never gave up the ball.
“They wore down in the fourth quarter,” Eagles left tackle Jason Peters said of the Chargers. “Matter of fact, they wore down in the third quarter going into the fourth, and we took advantage of it.”
Blount had just 113 yards in his first three games with the Eagles, and he didn’t get a carry in their loss to Kansas City two weeks ago. The NFL’s 2016 leader in rushing touchdowns was at the center of Philadelphia’s attack this time, and he showed the tenacity that his teammates already knew he possessed from his Super Bowl-winning tenure with New England.
“I know what I can do,” Blount said. “I know I’m one of the better backs in this league. I’m always going to run with that passion and that confidence.”
Rivers grew frustrated in the second half, slinging his helmet into the bench and shouting at teammates and coaches when he wanted to go for it on fourth down.
“That’s why you have a head coach and not go off your emotions there,” Rivers said. “Without a doubt, the correct move was to punt.”