A good way for the Philadelphia Eagles to beat the San Diego Chargers is by stopping LaDainian Tomlinson. After how poorly they played at Dallas two weeks ago, the Eagles may be energized enough to do it.
Philadelphia comes off its bye week looking to slow San Diego’s versatile running back when the teams meet at Lincoln Financial Field.
Tomlinson’s record-setting performance in last Sunday’s 27-14 win over Oakland showcased just how important the 26-year-old running back is to the Chargers’ success.
Not only did he tie an NFL record by scoring a touchdown in his 18th consecutive game, he became just the fourth player in the Super Bowl era—and seventh all-time—to run for, catch and throw a TD in the same game.
His 35-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter tied the record set by Baltimore’s Lenny Moore from 1963-65, and his TD run later in the period extended his NFL record for consecutive games with a running score to 18.
“In the celebration in the end zone I said, ‘Superman, you can do it all,”’ Chargers quarterback Drew Brees said. “He can do a lot of things. Obviously, he had a big game today.”
Tomlinson, the first player to pull off the touchdown trifecta since David Patten did it for New England in 2001, has thrown three TD passes in his five-year career.
“I think he’s making progress,” Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer joked.
The former TCU star, who also carried a season-high 31 times for 140 yards, poses a significant threat to an Eagles squad coming off one of the ugliest losses of coach Andy Reid’s tenure.
Philadelphia’s NFL-leading passing game was completely shut down and the Cowboys scored on six of their first seven drives en route to a stunning 33-10 victory.
The Eagles had won nine of the last 10 meetings with Dallas, but trailed 27-3 at halftime and 30-3 after the Cowboys’ first drive of the third quarter. The Cowboys finished with a 456-129 advantage in total yards.
“What happened in years past doesn’t matter,” Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. “This is a much better Dallas team. But we feel like we’re still the best team in the NFC. We weren’t able to get things going. We have to learn from it and move on.”
McNabb, playing with injuries to his abdomen, chest and groin, was 13-of-26 for 131 yards and was sacked four times. Terrell Owens was held to five catches for 50 yards.
The Eagles continued to struggle against the run, surrendering 167 rushing yards to the Cowboys, and need a much stronger showing this Sunday.
Tomlinson has rushed for an average of 155.3 yards in San Diego’s three victories but just 62 per game in the team’s three losses.
“L.T. is fast,” said Eagles linebacker Zeke Moreno, a former Charger. “It takes 11 players to stop him. If 11 players are on the same page, then it’s cool. But it’s going to be very hard.”
Philadelphia’s secondary is also a concern after Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe passed for 289 yards and three touchdowns, so Brees may have a chance for the type of big game that helped him win Comeback Player of the Year in 2004.
The Eagles are rushing for a league-worst 64.2 yards per game and need to re-establish the ground attack that helped them win the NFC East the last four years.
The typically mobile McNabb is scrambling less because of his injuries and Brian Westbrook, who had a breakout year in 2004, has more yards receiving (292) than rushing (231).
“We can do a better job there. We will continue to look at that. We have to do a better job,” Reid said.
Since Reid arrived in 1999, the Eagles are 6-0 following a bye week. They’re 17-3 following a loss since 2000—the best mark in the league during that span.