CARSON, Calif. — Bolstered by a StubHub Center crowd that seemed to be pretty much evenly split between the Eagles and the host Los Angeles Chargers, the Birds went into halftime with a 16-10 lead.
After a hot start, Carson Wentz cooled down to 10 for 19 for 154 yards and a touchdown. Wendell Smallwood, filling in ably for Darren Sproles, caught four passes for 45 yards and ran four times for 22 more. The Eagles also got 43 bruising first-half rushing yards from LeGarrette Blount, on seven carries.
Fears about the Eagles’ young secondary and Fletcher Cox-less pass rush seemed justified early in the Chargers’ first possession, as the home team moved for a couple of first downs, quickly crossing into Eagles territory. But with Phillip Rivers scrambling away from pressure, Chris Long closed the gap much faster than Rivers expected and stripped the ball as Rivers drew back his arm to pass. Derek Barnett recovered, and the Eagles began an eight-play, 68-yard touchdown drive. The highlight was a 36-yard Wentz pass down the right sideline to Nelson Agholor, Wentz throwing as he was hit. Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery from seven yards for the TD.
The Birds added a 45-yard Jake Elliott field goal for a 10-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, with Wentz hitting five of his first six passes for 92 yards. The only incompletion was a throwaway.
Stefen Wisniewski played the first two series at left guard, replaced by Chance Warmack for the third and fourth series. Both seemed effective. Isaac Seumalo was inactive.
Tim Jernigan seemed to step up in Cox’s absence, pressuring Rivers and helping shut down the run, as did Beau Allen, who notched his first solo sack in 52 NFL games. Rivers was 1 for 6 for 19 yards when the Chargers got the ball back after another Elliiott field goal made it 13-0, with 6:42 left in the first half. Then on his next snap, Rivers hit Tyrell Williams for 75 yards and a touchdown, torching Rasul Douglas and Jalen Mills.
Elliott hit from 53 and another coverage bust by Douglas got the Chargers close enough for the field goal that set the halftime score.