The Eagles’ offense put up points again this week, but their defense couldn’t quite hold up their end of the bargain and they ended up on the wrong side of a shootout that ran deep into the fourth quarter. This time, all the damage was done through the air, with Michael Vick putting up huge numbers and LeSean McCoy notching only 53 rushing yards from 11 attempts, showing that the Eagles are nothing on offense if not versatile.
The Chargers were able to bounce back from their opening-week display of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and this time battled back on a couple of occasions to make sure of the win. We again got a look at the old Philip Rivers as he went toe to toe with Vick, putting up his own monster numbers and emerging victorious at the end.
So let’s take a look at the individual performances that stood out in the game.
San Diego: Three Performances of Note
Good Rivers Returns
Any time a quarterback puts up 419 yards and throws for three touchdowns without being picked off you can be confident he had a pretty good day, and Rivers certainly did, marking the second time this season we saw the player we were once all used to seeing (at least for part of the Houston game). Unlike last week, however, when things got close at the end of this game and San Diego needed drives, Rivers didn’t shrink or collapse. He led drives and the Chargers scored vital points. What was perhaps most impressive, and a large part of his +5.3 passing grade, was the fact that under pressure he completed 72.7% of his passes and still had a passer rating of 92.6.
Not Liuget Enough
Sometimes you find yourself just overmatched, and this game had that feeling for RE Corey Liuget, who found himself playing against the best guard in football, Evan Mathis, and a player who, at his best, is the best left tackle in football, Jason Peters. The pair got the better of Liuget all game long, and when they were assigned the task of double-teaming him, he was driven off the line like he was on roller skates. There was also a particularly ugly moment (for Liuget) where he was flung five yards off the line after Peters made initial contact as the Eagles were trying to generate a bit of breathing room from the shadow of their own goal line. To make matters worse, Liuget wasn’t able to make an impact as a pass rusher either, generating just a lone hurry from 26 passing snaps.
Stats Only Telling Half the Story
When I tell you that Shareece Wright’s day was a nightmare, you wouldn’t have too much trouble believing it just from the stat line. He was thrown at ten times, allowing six receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown, with DeSean Jackson being the chief benefactor. But it could have been so much worse than that. He was beaten by Jackson deep twice more and could easily have surrendered another hundred receiving yards from those two receptions alone but for inches in the case of one pass and a better throw in the case of another. Only a bit of close coverage in the end zone late in the game on Nick Foles’ lone pass attempt of the game counted in his favor against an otherwise wretched outing.
Philadelphia: Three Performances of Note
The Real Slim Shady
There aren’t many players more elusive than LeSean McCoy, and right now there probably aren’t any. Eric Weddle is one of the game’s finest safeties, but was almost completely unable to contain McCoy today even when he had clear shots at him with nowhere for the running back to go. On one play, Weddle shot past the block of LG Evan Mathis to meet McCoy in the backfield (and the end zone) only to be juked and barely lay a finger on him as McCoy then proceeded to force two more missed tackles and gain just three yards on a play that should have, by all accounts, been a safety. He only touched the ball 16 times in this game, but he recorded 167 yards on those touches, catching everything sent his way.
Reinforcing Week One
We took some abuse from Eagles fans last week for the poor grade we gave Mychal Kendricks after he was seemingly all over the field against the Redskins. While he certainly got involved in plenty of tackles, they often were only after successful plays by the offense. This was not the game he would have wanted to prove us wrong. It seemed that every other play Kendricks was earning a significant negative grade, earning a -7.0 overall mark and grading negatively across the board. He missed a game-high four tackles and allowed eight catches on his nine targets for 71 yards. He was attacked ruthlessly by Antonio Gates, who may not have the athleticism he once had, but is still far too savvy a route runner for Kendricks, at least based on this evidence. On more than one occasion, Gates allowed Kendricks to get tight to him before spinning away or executing a subtle little shove to send him off-balance.
As you might expect when the opposing quarterback tops 400 passing yards, the Eagles didn’t have a good day in the secondary. It wasn’t helped by the fact that their starting four combined to miss seven tackles, with only Brandon Boykin avoiding one. Boykin was also the only starter of the back four to grade positively, with a +1.8 rating compared to the negative misery of Nate Allen (-3.2), Patrick Chung (-3.8) and Cary Williams (-4.9). Targeting any of those three players earned Philip Rivers a passer rating of 133.3 or better. Sadly there was no lone target that they could point to as a reason for getting beaten, as each player was taken to task by a variety of receivers.
– LeSean McCoy continues to make people miss for fun, forcing eight missed tackles on just 16 touches.
– Michael Vick’s passer rating dropped from 145.4 when he was kept clean to 40.6 when he felt pressure in this game.
– The Eagles missed 12 tackles on defense, but 10 of those 12 can be assigned to just three players: Mychal Kendricks, Patrick Chung, and Cary Williams.
PFF Game Ball
There were a few worthy candidates for this, with DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy in particular just missing out in a losing effort, but Philip Rivers deserves the credit for returning to the kind of form we once expected from him.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam