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Eagles feel fan love during 26-24 road win over Chargers
By GREG BEACHAM
CARSON, Calif. (AP) Thousands of Philadelphia Eagles fans packed StubHub Center from warmups onward. The green-clad horde chanted and sang throughout the game, with its roars getting loudest when the Eagles' offense ran out the clock on another victory.
"It was definitely noticed by our entire team, and we definitely fed off them today," tight end Zach Ertz said.
The relocating Chargers knew they would need years to build a home-field advantage in Los Angeles. The Eagles feel right at home wherever they go, and the Chargers' temporary stadium was no exception during their 26-24 victory Sunday.
Carson Wentz passed for 242 yards, LeGarrette Blount rushed for 136 and the Eagles jumped to a big early lead before hanging on to beat the winless Chargers. Rookie Jake Elliott kicked four field goals for the Eagles (3-1), the third straight visiting team to have significant support in the StubHub Center stands.
"I am not surprised by our fans," Wentz said. "Honestly, it was unbelievable. They travel so well for every game. It is so enjoyable, and they make it so fun, but it is starting to be the norm, almost. They bring it every game, no matter where we are."
Those Eagles fans will be thrilled if this promising team can keep it up after finishing off Los Angeles in physical style. Philadelphia ended the game with a bruising 13-play drive over the final 6:44, simply refusing to give a final chance to the Chargers' offense.
"Last year, we could never find a way to win tight ballgames," Wentz said. "This year, we are starting to learn that a little bit. We are turning the corner."
Philip Rivers passed for 347 yards and two TDs for the Chargers, who have lost nine consecutive games dating to last season in San Diego - where the Chargers also faced home crowds packed with visiting fans while the franchise's long-term future was in flux.
The Chargers fell behind 13-0 early to the Eagles, but rallied in the fourth quarter when rookie Austin Ekeler rushed for a 35-yard score on his first NFL carry and Hunter Henry made a one-handed TD catch.
"This team is still growing together, but I don't think there's any lack of fight, or want-to, or desire," Rivers said. "Guys are fighting, scratching like crazy. We haven't been able to overcome it yet."
The Eagles matched last season's 3-1 start despite playing without Fletcher Cox and several injured defensive regulars. They hung on thanks to an impressive running game: Blount combined with Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement to rush for 200 yards, with Blount picking up 88 yards in the fourth quarter along with the clinching first down on that clock-chewing drive.
Tyrell Williams caught a 75-yard touchdown pass, but the Chargers are off to their first 0-4 start since 2003 - three years before Rivers became their starting quarterback. New coach Anthony Lynn is still winless after Los Angeles' new team wrapped up a three-game homestand.
"Never in a million years (had) I thought we'd be here at 0-4, but we are," Lynn said. "I look at football in four quarters, just like the game, and we just stunk the first quarter of our season. We've got three quarters left to figure some things out and get this turned around."
Blount's phenomenal 68-yard run eventually led to Smallwood's TD dive with 9:14 to play after a penalty on Los Angeles' Darius Philon kept the Eagles alive.
Henry made it 26-24, but the Eagles never gave up the ball.
"They wore down in the fourth quarter," Eagles left tackle Jason Peters said of the Chargers. "Matter of fact, they wore down in the third quarter going into the fourth, and we took advantage of it."
Blount had just 113 yards in his first three games with the Eagles, and he didn't get a carry in their loss to Kansas City two weeks ago. The NFL's 2016 leader in rushing touchdowns was at the center of Philadelphia's attack this time.
"I know what I can do," Blount said. "I know I'm one of the better backs in this league. I'm always going to run with that passion and that confidence."
Rivers grew frustrated in the second half, slinging his helmet into the bench and shouting at teammates and coaches when he wanted to go for it on fourth and 7.
"That's why you have a head coach and not go off your emotions there," Rivers said. "Without a doubt, the correct move was to punt."
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Updated October 1, 2017