The new version of the Philadelphia Eagles offense was a rousing success in the season opener - at least for 2 1/2 quarters.
Same goes for the San Diego Chargers, though they came away much more disappointed.
Despite successfully debuting his up-tempo style as Eagles coach, Chip Kelly would like his offense to pick up the pace even more for Sunday's matchup with the visiting Chargers.
"There are certain games where you play the clock, but I don't know that there will be a time in this game where you won't be wanting to go score and keep scoring because of how fast they play offensively," San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said. "No lead is ever safe."
Though Philadelphia's 53 first-half plays were the second-most by any team since 1991, Kelly felt his team could have moved more quickly and smoothly in Monday night's 33-27 win over Washington.
"I felt like it was slow, to be honest with you," Kelly said. "I'm not joking. We've got to do a better job. We left the ball on the ground too much. We didn't get the ball to the officials. We could have sped things up from a process between plays. That's something we need to continue to work on."
At least twice it appeared star runner LeSean McCoy had to leave the field just to catch his breath. Exemplifying how Kelly plans to run the ball about as much as he did at Oregon, McCoy had a career-high 31 carries for 184 yards - one shy of a personal best.
"The tempo really worked," McCoy said. "I don't think anyone has seen it that fast."
McCoy's 34-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles a 33-7 lead early in the third quarter. However, they didn't score after that as the offense slowed down, in part to take time off the clock, and they failed to gain more than 16 yards on four of their final five possessions.
"We've got to keep working. There are a lot of mistakes we made," said Michael Vick, who threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 54 and a score. "I think (in) the second half, we got a little bit sloppy."
While Kelly and the Eagles were pleased with Vick's play, new Chargers coach Mike McCoy had to be happy with how Rivers implemented his new offensive scheme through two-plus quarters. Rivers tied a career high with four TD passes as San Diego built a 28-7 lead midway through the third.
However, the Chargers totaled just 10 yards after that, Rivers' interception was returned for the tying touchdown in the fourth and Houston won 31-28 on a game-ending field goal.
"We had every opportunity in the world to finish that game and we didn't do it," McCoy said Wednesday. "And it's all about winning and losing. We get paid to win games here and we didn't finish the game. But we're moving on. We're learning from it."
Rivers threw for 195 yards and was 14 of 29 for a 48.3 completion percentage which was the second-worst of Week 1. He's not expecting things to get any easier against an Eagles defense that sacked Robert Griffin III three times and intercepted two of his passes.
"I know everyone's talking how fast their offense is and how fast they play, but their defense is the same way," Rivers said. "Their personnel is fast and they just fly around."
Philadelphia limited the Redskins to 74 rushing yards despite playing against Griffin and Alfred Morris, last year's top rusher among quarterbacks and the league's second-leading rusher overall.
Ryan Mathews was held to 33 yards on 13 carries in the opener as San Diego fell to 7-16 in games he plays and has less than 65 on the ground. The Chargers have failed to rush for 100 yards in eight consecutive games.
Their defense, meanwhile, surrendered 449 yards to the Texans - six yards more than Philadelphia had last week.
All but two of the 10 meetings between these teams have been decided by eight points or less. In the most recent one, Rivers was 20 of 25 for 231 yards and two TDs in a 31-23 home win in 2009.
The Chargers have lost their only two trips to Philadelphia since 1995. They're 0-6 on the road against NFC foes since 2009 but did win both of their trips to the Northeast last season - against Pittsburgh and the New York Jets in December.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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