They drained almost all the clock that remained, forced Philadelphia to exhaust all three of its timeouts and, when it absolutely mattered most, ended things in the coldest of ways.
By kicking — quite literally — the Eagles when they were down.
Dustin Hopkins booted a 29-yard field goal in the closing seconds Sunday to cap a dominant, game-grabbing drive in a 27-24 Chargers’ victory that stilled a once-chaotic Lincoln Financial Field.
With that exclamation point, the Chargers halted a two-game losing streak and are atop the AFC West at 5-3.
They won in Philadelphia with a 15-play series that covered 64 yards and consumed all but two seconds of the final 6:07 that remained when they took possession.
All Philadelphia’s offense could do was squirm on the sidelines as the visitors squeezed all the opportunity that remained in the game.
“That’s demoralizing for a team,” Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen said. “It feels like we just took over. That’s pretty much what it was. … That’s when games are won.”
The offense took over all right — on the heels of back-to-back disjointed performances in losses to Baltimore and New England. Remember Justin Herbert’s struggles? Forget Justin Herbert’s struggles.
The second-year quarterback finished 32 of 38 for 356 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The 84.2% accuracy is the best of Herbert’s 23 career starts.
He also rushed for a touchdown as the Chargers’ formerly sputtering offense shook off its consecutive sluggish efforts to score on five of seven full possessions against the Eagles.
That consistent production was underlined and bold-faced with the final drive. Herbert went five of seven — hitting a different receiver on each connection — for 39 yards. One of those incompletions was thrown intentionally to stop the clock.
The Chargers also rushed the ball seven times for 32 yards and converted a pair of fourth and ones. Austin Ekeler split the defense for a 16-yard rush to put Hopkins in closer range.
Coach Brandon Staley called Sunday’s events “a mindset win” and repeatedly praised his offensive line. Herbert, who wasn’t sacked, was officially hit once, just a week after the Patriots pressured him 17 times.
“Our offensive line played a very, very good football game,” Staley said. “This was a line of scrimmage game and our offensive line competed at a really, really high level.”
The Chargers also moved Herbert from the pocket at times with success. He was quick to release the ball. He and his receivers were back in sync after looking somewhat off for a stretch.
Herbert even connected deep again with Mike Williams, the pair hooking up for a 49-yard gain in the third quarter to set up a touchdown that broke one of the game’s three ties.
Williams ran across the back of the Eagles’ secondary and outjumped three-time Pro Bow cornerback Darius Slay to secure Herbert’s rainbow.
“You can’t underestimate what a good throw that is,” Staley said, “because a mortal player doesn’t make it look that easy.”
As for Williams’ contribution on the play, Staley said, “Mike’s just got a really big-time gift when the ball’s in the air in the deep part of the field to track it.”
The Chargers’ offense so completely rediscovered its groove that punter Ty Long never was needed to do anything but hold on placekicks. The two times the Chargers didn’t score on full possessions they turned the ball over on downs.
Herbert’s two touchdown passes went to reserve tight ends Stephen Anderson and Donald Parham. Anderson hadn’t scored for the Chargers before Sunday. Parham used his 6-foot-8 frame to work his way into the end zone.
“This guy’s got some of that basketball magic, making people miss,” Staley said.
The head coach cited the play calling of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and the ability of the Chargers to keep the Eagles’ defenders off balance, especially on the final drive.
He said Herbert hitting Allen early and often helped establish a rhythm for the offense and the quarterback, a rhythm that had been missing of late. Herbert targeted Allen five times — for four completions — on the Chargers’ opening series.
“The plays that we were connecting on were just our basic combination,” Allen said. “So, anytime we can hit those and get Justin in the feel for the game, it gets everybody comfortable, gets everybody settled in.”
Allen finished with 12 receptions for 104 yards, the 30th 100-yard game of his career.
“Keenan’s reputation precedes him in this league because it’s well earned,” Staley said. “It’s well deserved. People know that this guy’s got real stuff, real stuff.”
Allen displayed that Sunday and so did Herbert as the Chargers flew across the country and — with one final hammer of a drive — kept the Eagles helplessly grounded.