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NFL Week 2: Chargers put their season in turnaround, beat Eagles

A novel defensive approach helps San Diego slow Philadelphia's high-speed attack in 33-30 win. Falcons, Packers, Ravens also rebound.

September 15, 2013|By Sam Farmer
  • Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson, left, is taken down by San Diego cornerback Shareece Wright during the fourth quarter of the Chargers' 33-30 win Sunday.
Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson, left, is taken down by San Diego… (Rich Schultz / Getty Images )

How did the San Diego Chargers prepare to face Philadelphia on a quick turnaround?

In part, they spent last week turning around quickly.

To prepare for Sunday's game at Philadelphia after a Monday night opener and to adjust to Chip Kelly's fast-forward offense, the Chargers secretly employed a novel strategy at their closed-to-the-media practices.

Instead of getting a long look at the formation they were facing, defensive players turned their backs to the offense and instead trained their eyes on defensive coordinator John Pagano.

When the offense was set, Pagano would give his players the signal to turn around, and they had roughly two seconds to make the proper adjustments before the ball was snapped. The Eagles had speed, and the Chargers had speed-readers.

On an about-face Sunday, when Atlanta, Buffalo, Green Bay, Oakland, Arizona and Baltimore bounced back from Week 1 losses, the Chargers pulled off the stunner of the day, a 33-30 victory over the Eagles.

Although the game wasn't a defensive masterpiece for San Diego — Michael Vick still threw for a career-high 428 yards, and the Eagles scored 30 points despite having the ball just a third of the time — the Chargers' defense did enough and complemented a brilliant performance by quarterback Philip Rivers.

Six days after a demoralizing loss at home to Houston, Rivers threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns — all to receiver Eddie Royal — countering the Eagles' up-tempo attack by running a slow-motion no-huddle offense, using every bit of the play clock on nearly every snap.

"We kind of no-huddled the no-huddlers," said Rivers, whose team, a 71/2-point underdog, held the ball for 40 minutes 17 seconds. "We had our own rhythm of no-huddle going. It was a heck of a team win."

Rivers exposed a glaring weakness in the Eagles' defense, particularly at safety. He shredded the middle of the defense with his passes, was seldom under pressure, and his team punted just once. The game might not have been nearly as close had the Chargers not fumbled twice inside Philadelphia's 10.

With former Eagles coach Andy Reid bringing his Kansas City Chiefs to Philadelphia on Thursday, Kelly's challenge this week will be the high-speed patching of a leaky secondary.

"You're not going to find anybody at this point in time that's hanging out on the street corner that's going to be able to play safety for you," Kelly said. "We've got to coach them better, and we've got to put them in position to make plays."

The Chargers, meanwhile, have a game at Tennessee — a franchise that hasn't beaten them in eight tries — and, after a week of high-speed preparation, might want to hit pause to enjoy this one.

Sibling rivalry

Eli Manning has a 2-1 advantage in Super Bowl rings over older brother Peyton, but he's 0-3 when playing against Peyton in the regular season.

Peyton, coming off a seven-touchdown performance in the opener against Baltimore, threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in Denver's 41-23 victory over the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.

Although Eli threw for more yards (362), four of his passes were intercepted, bringing the turnover total of the 0-2 Giants to 10. New York's minus-eight turnover differential is worst in the league.

Once again, Super Bowl favorite Denver showed an uncanny ability to slam the door. The Broncos scored 31 of their points in the second half against the Giants, and 35 in the second half against the Ravens.

Half-hearted

The Redskins have been outscored, 50-7, in two first halves, and those slow starts have doomed them.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III, coming off reconstructive knee surgery, is nowhere near as dangerous a run-pass threat as he was last season, when he was voted offensive rookie of the year. He threw for three touchdowns in Washington's 38-20 loss to the Packers on Sunday, but his team was never in the game after falling behind, 31-0, in the third quarter.

"We can't really put our finger on what it is, and that's the real frustrating part," Griffin said of the sluggish starts.

With Detroit coming to town Sunday, and 0-3 a very real possibility, the Redskins have to be pondering what once was unthinkable: Should they start a healthier Kirk Cousins at quarterback?

Scary moments

There were some frightening hits Sunday, none more than the one that compressed the neck of Malcom Floyd like an accordion. The Chargers receiver collided with Philadelphia linebacker DeMeco Ryans and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.

Floyd was taken to a hospital, where a CT scan on his neck reportedly was negative. He was able to join the Chargers on their flight back to San Diego.

In the Washington-Green Bay game, Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather launched himself at Packers rookie Eddie Lacy, knocking the running back out of the game with a helmet-to-helmet hit. Meriweather has a history of that type of hit but wasn't flagged on the play.

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