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LeGarrette Blount runs with 'Passion and Purpose' in Eagles win

Jeff McLane, STAFF WRITER

Updated: Sunday, October 1, 2017, 10:19 PM

Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount (29) powers through Los Angeles Chargers defenders in the fourth quarter.

CARSON, Calif. — LeGarrette Blount stood with his back to a large group of reporters and television cameras that had encircled his stall in the cramped visitors’ locker room at StubHub Center. He slipped on a black shirt that had the words, “Passion and Purpose” written on the back.

Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount runs for a 61-yard gain past Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa in the fourth-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen celebrates a second-quarter sack with teammate defensive end Derek Barnett against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery scores a first-quarter touchdown past Los Angeles Chargers inside linebacker Korey Toomer (left), cornerback Trevor Williams (center) and free safety Tre Boston on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson celebrates with his coaches after the Eagles got a late fourth-quarter first down against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount runs with at the football as tight end Zach Ertz blocks Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa during the second-quarter Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz tries to run for a first-down against Los Angeles Chargers inside linebacker Jatavis Brown during the second-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles Jake Elliott kicks a second-quarter field goal with holder Donnie Jones against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor catches the football past Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Desmond King during the first-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Happy Eagles fan cheer after their team scored a touchdown in the fourth-quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown with teammate offensive lineman Steven Wisniewski, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and offensive tackle Lane Johnson against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount reaches just short of a late fourth-quarter first down against the Los Angeles Chargers free safety Tre Boston (left) and cornerback Casey Hayward on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery tries to catch the football against Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward during the second-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles running back Corey Clement runs with the football during the first-quarter as teammate center Jason Kelce (left) blocks Los Angeles Chargers inside linebacker Jatavis Brown and offensive tackle Jason Peters blocks Chargers defensive end Chris McCain (right) on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount hits Los Angeles Chargers free safety Tre Boston during the first-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams, above, leaps over Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks, right, during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount reaches just short of a late fourth-quarter first down against the Los Angeles Chargers free safety Tre Boston (left) and cornerback Casey Hayward on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas defends Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen in end zone during the second-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount and defensive end Vinny Curry celebrate their 26-24 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood runs with the football against Los Angeles Chargers free safety Tre Boston during the first-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers reacts as he comes off the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz runs with the football past Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Chris McCain during the first-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood, above center, is stopped by Los Angeles Chargers middle linebacker Nigel Harris during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Happy Eagles fan cheer after their team scored a touchdown in the first-quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz catches the football over Los Angeles Chargers inside linebacker Jatavis Brown during the third-quarter on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles defensive end Chris Long forces a first-quarter fumble against Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Carson, CA. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles strong safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) and free safety Rodney McLeod (23) react during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Photo Gallery: Eagles 26, Chargers 24

Blount, even at the age of 30, has incredible power. But when running backs hit a certain age they often need more than just talent to keep producing in the NFL. It might sound trite to suggest that the Eagles tailback did run with passion and purpose, but how else to describe Blount’s performance — especially a relentless 68-yard burst — in the Eagles’ 26-24 win over the Chargers?

Some of the Eagles were using another term to describe how Blount, who broke multiple tackles and moved piles with his churning legs, gained 136 yards on the ground on Sunday.

“That man’s angry,” quarterback Carson Wentz said.

Two weeks ago, Blount didn’t even register a carry in the loss at the Kansas City Chiefs. But just when it seemed as if the Eagles may phase him out, or when many outsiders were writing him off, Blount has shown in the last two games that he still has plenty left in his 6-foot, 250-pound tank.

“I don’t have any grudges against anybody,” said Blount, who had remained unsigned into May this offseason. “Thirty, 29-[years-old], whatever the case may be, I know what I can do. I know I’m one of the better backs in this league as far as running the football.

“I’m always going to run the football with that passion and with that confidence. But, no, there’s no chip on my shoulder.”

Blount has led the Eagles’ run game in its two-game renaissance. In the first two games, the running backs gained just 104 yards on 33 carries (3.2 average) and had no touchdowns. In the last two, they’ve totaled 382 yards on 72 rushes (5.3 avg.) and scored three touchdowns.

The Eagles’ four-man rotation lost a key figure when Darren Sproles suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. But with Blount handling the bulk of first- and second-down snaps, Wendell Smallwood assuming much of Sproles’ third down role, and rookie Corey Clement filling in here and there, the run game has become the dominant feature on offense.

“Whatever works,” Blount said. “We’re in the business of winning, and that’s what comes first and foremost, no matter what the rotation is, no matter who’s getting the ball.”

Most impressively, the Eagles put the Chargers away with a six-minute, 44-second drive that included three first-down carries by Clement and 6- and 15-yard totes by Blount that iced the game.

“We firmly believe, especially with the type of runner [Blount] is and the type of offensive line that we have, we think that as the game goes we’re going to get stronger, we’re going to impose our will,” Kelce said. “We might not be successful early on, but just keep it at — a defense can only take so much of that.”

Blount wasn’t overpowering in the opener against the Washington Redskins — 14 carries for 46 yards — but it was surprising when coach Doug Pederson didn’t feed him at least one carry the next week in Kansas City. Blount didn’t bat an eye or criticize his coach. He said his time would come.

And it did, to a certain extent, last week when he picked up 67 yards and a score on 12 tries. He had several carries when he refused to go down. But nothing could top his bolt in the fourth quarter after the Chargers had trimmed to Eagles lead to 19-17 with under 14 minutes left.

Pederson called for an inside zone run that had Zach Ertz motion to one side and turn back at the snap to cut the defensive end. But on this play, the Eagles tight end took out two Chargers and Blount had a huge lane.

“It wasn’t that hard to see,” Blount said.

The tailback then took over. Blount shook centerfield safety Tre Boston, who had a clear shot. He then skipped away from cornerback Trevor Williams and ran from cornerback Desmond King. At the 10-yard line, Blount stiffed-armed King to the ground before he was tackled out of bounds at the 3.

“From my vantage point,” Wentz said, “it was one of the most impressive runs I’ve seen live in my life.”

Pederson rewarded Blount with four straight carries — the Chargers negated one run with a penalty — but he couldn’t get in. On third down, Smallwood took over and bulldozed into the end zone behind left tackle Jason Peters and left guard Stefen Wisniewski.

“You always want the football. You want to finish a drive,” Blount said. “But I’m excited that Wendell got his touch. He got in the locker room and he was like, ‘I appreciate the touchdown.’ I was like, ‘Hey, man, share the wealth.’ ”

But it was Blount who galvanized the Eagles with his unyielding effort on 16 carries — he also had a catch for 20 yards in the first quarter.

“It makes my life easier, to be honest with you,” Wentz said. “Seeing the o-line get super excited about, too — we fuel off that emotion, that energy, when a guy like LeGarrette is bouncing off tacklers, making guys miss.”

And Blount’s refusal to go down clearly affected a Chargers defense that was out on the field for almost double the amount of game minutes.

“At the end of the third, going into the fourth quarter they were wearing down,” Peters said, “and we took advantage of it.”

The Eagles were balanced for the second week in a row — Pederson called 36 runs to 38 passes. And when they need their four-minute offense to drain the clock, the offensive line and running backs delivered.

But it was, ultimately, Blount’s day.

“I had a pretty good day,” he said.

Jeff McLane, STAFF WRITER

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