This is hokey and it’s the same lede every Eagles writer is going to use after Sunday’s win, so let’s get it over with: In Carson, California, Carson Wentz looked right at home leading the Eagles to another road win.
(Sorry, not sorry.) The Eagles topped the Los Angeles Chargers 26-24 to win their second-straight game by a field goal or less, and their second road game of the season. If you can even consider this a road game.
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) October 1, 2017
The Chargers left San Diego and can’t even fill a soccer stadium with their own fans this year. The StubHub Center seats 27,000 fans and at least half of them Sunday were Eagles fans.
Fox play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton could not believe how loud the crowd was for the Eagles, asking, “Is this a road game for the Chargers?” before proclaiming, “the boos should be cheers in a Chargers home game.” Granted, Stockton made about four thousand mistakes during the game so he might have actually gotten confused, but either way, the atmosphere that far from home was remarkable.
— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) October 1, 2017
Fans got to the game early, too, as the opening warmups made it feel like the Eagles were at the Linc.
Eagles take the field to this reception. This is wild. pic.twitter.com/wr64okhbaw
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) October 1, 2017
Sure, there are reasons why Chargers fans don’t go to games. First off, there aren’t many Chargers fans in the area. Those in San Diego feel burned by the team leaving and those in Los Angeles are mostly Rams or Raiders fans. Those who would want to support the Chargers can’t feel great about paying $200 for a ticket and upwards of $100 for parking. Oh, there are other excuses too, but there really is no excuse for the Chargers starting this season 0-4. Credit the Eagles offense for this win — more on the defense in a minute — and credit Doug Pederson for starting the season 3-1 for the second time in as many years.
After a slow start, Carson sure came up big in Carson. He threw for 242 yards with a touchdown and ran for another 14 yards. Drops were a factor again for the offense, especially a big one by Torrey Smith, but the Eagles were able to score enough field goals and touchdowns when it mattered to stay ahead of the Chargers and secure the win.
Last week’s hero Jake Elliott was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points, and despite the defense giving up a combined 38 points in the fourth quarter the last two weeks, the Eagles didn’t need any last-second heroics this week. Instead, the Eagles got the ball back with 6:44 to play, up by two points and they killed the game, running 13 plays for 59 yards that included two kneel downs by Wentz. This is a corner turned for the second-year quarterback, and for the second-year as a coach. And this week, they both owed a lot to the running game.
LeGarrette Blount rushed 16 times for 136 yards, catching one pass for 20 yards. Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement each had just 10 carries, but they were big runs, especially Smallwood’s touchdown run that ended up being the difference in the game. In all, the Eagles had 214 yards rushing on 42 carries, a far cry from where the team was two weeks ago.
“It definitely helps the overall execution of the offense,” Pederson said about establishing the run. “I think it opens up a lot of things, in the passing game as well. The running game is something we feel comfortable in doing and we’ve just got to continue to execute it each week.”
The Eagles are really rewriting the Pederson era so far this season. They’re running the ball more, creating offensive balance. Crowd on their side or not, the Eagles are now 2-1 on the road after going 1-7 away from the Linc last year. They’re 2-1 in one-score games after losing six by one score last year. They’re…different.
“We’re four games in. This team is really starting to believe in themselves, believe in each other,” Pederson said after the win. “It’s never really one aspect. The offense is bailing out the defense. The defense is bailing out the offense. Special teams sometimes bails out everybody. That’s what they’re learning. They’re learning to play together, and coming together and that’s exciting and it’s fun to watch.”
Of course it helps that the last two opponents are now a combined 0-8 on the season. The schedule is about to get a lot tougher, and it will be hard to expect another home game on the road, even when they head back to LA later in the season.