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Sun., Mar. 08, 2015 1:30 PM PDT
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Defense Comes up Big in the End
The Chargers led by three, but the Eagles were on the move.
They had the ball with 2:39 remaining and were knocking on the doorstep at the San Diego 14 yard line.
The defense held strong, limiting the Eagles to a field goal to tie the game rather than take the lead. That important stop set the stage for a dramatic drive and game-winning field goal by Nick Novak. While many will focus on the offense marching down the field, and rightfully so, it can’t be overstated how important that stop was for the San Diego Chargers.
“It was a key to the game,” Head Coach Mike McCoy said. “There’s no doubt about it that was key.”
On first down, Michael Vick dropped back and looked for Brent Celek, but the tight end was draped by Eric Weddle. Vick got drilled by Jarius Wynn on the play and was forced to the sideline. Backup quarterback Nick Foles came in for one play, and looked for the end zone but the ball sailed out of bounds. Then, on third down, Vick thought he had Jason Avant at the goal line but Marcus Gilchrist punched the ball loose. As a result, Philly was forced to kick a field goal to tie the game rather than take the lead.
“We had to stop them there,” Shareece Wright said matter-of-factly. “It was very important to limit them to the field goal. It was one of those drives that was going to test us. It tested our poise and how we play under pressure. We focused on that all camp – to play under pressure and not break. It made a big difference in the game, as you could see”
Eric Weddle also stressed how crucial it was to not allow the Eagles into the end zone.
“It was what we needed as a team individually and collectively,” he said. “To get that stop and give the ball back to our offense with a chance to win the game is what we’ve been searching for the last couple years. To get it and to do it as a team is an amazing feeling. It give us the confidence and belief to go do it again in the future. You don’t ever want to give up points, but that was a victory for us. Any time you’re in the red zone, regardless of how they get there, you can’t compound it by giving up touchdowns. We always want to try to hold them to field goals.”
Although they didn’t need any extra motivation, the offense took note of the defense’s effort and many said it motivated them coming out for their final drive.
“That was huge,” said Jeromey Clary. “To have them be in that position and keep them to three, we talk about that all the time. As long as the defense keeps them to field goals like they did and the offense executes like we did, that’s tough to beat.”