How did the San Diego Chargers prepare to face Philadelphia on a quick turnaround?
In part, they spent last week turning around quickly.
To prepare for Sunday's game at Philadelphia after a Monday night opener and to adjust to Chip Kelly's fast-forward offense, the Chargers secretly employed a novel strategy at their closed-to-the-media practices.
Instead of getting a long look at the formation they were facing, defensive players turned their backs to the offense and instead trained their eyes on defensive coordinator John Pagano.
When the offense was set, Pagano would give his players the signal to turn around, and they had roughly two seconds to make the proper adjustments before the ball was snapped. The Eagles had speed, and the Chargers had speed-readers.
On an about-face Sunday, when Atlanta, Buffalo, Green Bay, Oakland, Arizona and Baltimore bounced back from Week 1 losses, the Chargers pulled off the stunner of the day, a 33-30 victory over the Eagles.
Although the game wasn't a defensive masterpiece for San Diego — Michael Vick still threw for a career-high 428 yards, and the Eagles scored 30 points despite having the ball just a third of the time — the Chargers' defense did enough and complemented a brilliant performance by quarterback Philip Rivers.
Six days after a demoralizing loss at home to Houston, Rivers threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns — all to receiver Eddie Royal — countering the Eagles' up-tempo attack by running a slow-motion no-huddle offense, using every bit of the play clock on nearly every snap.
"We kind of no-huddled the no-huddlers," said Rivers, whose team, a 71/2-point underdog, held the ball for 40 minutes 17 seconds. "We had our own rhythm of no-huddle going. It was a heck of a team win."
Rivers exposed a glaring weakness in the Eagles' defense, particularly at safety. He shredded the middle of the defense with his passes, was seldom under pressure, and his team punted just once. The game might not have been nearly as close had the Chargers not fumbled twice inside Philadelphia's 10.
With former Eagles coach Andy Reid bringing his Kansas City Chiefs to Philadelphia on Thursday, Kelly's challenge this week will be the high-speed patching of a leaky secondary.
"You're not going to find anybody at this point in time that's hanging out on the street corner that's going to be able to play safety for you," Kelly said. "We've got to coach them better, and we've got to put them in position to make plays."
The Chargers, meanwhile, have a game at Tennessee — a franchise that hasn't beaten them in eight tries — and, after a week of high-speed preparation, might want to hit pause to enjoy this one.
Eli Manning has a 2-1 advantage in Super Bowl rings over older brother Peyton, but he's 0-3 when playing against Peyton in the regular season.
Peyton, coming off a seven-touchdown performance in the opener against Baltimore, threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in Denver's 41-23 victory over the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.
Although Eli threw for more yards (362), four of his passes were intercepted, bringing the turnover total of the 0-2 Giants to 10. New York's minus-eight turnover differential is worst in the league.
Once again, Super Bowl favorite Denver showed an uncanny ability to slam the door. The Broncos scored 31 of their points in the second half against the Giants, and 35 in the second half against the Ravens.
The Redskins have been outscored, 50-7, in two first halves, and those slow starts have doomed them.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III, coming off reconstructive knee surgery, is nowhere near as dangerous a run-pass threat as he was last season, when he was voted offensive rookie of the year. He threw for three touchdowns in Washington's 38-20 loss to the Packers on Sunday, but his team was never in the game after falling behind, 31-0, in the third quarter.
"We can't really put our finger on what it is, and that's the real frustrating part," Griffin said of the sluggish starts.
With Detroit coming to town Sunday, and 0-3 a very real possibility, the Redskins have to be pondering what once was unthinkable: Should they start a healthier Kirk Cousins at quarterback?
There were some frightening hits Sunday, none more than the one that compressed the neck of Malcom Floyd like an accordion. The Chargers receiver collided with Philadelphia linebacker DeMeco Ryans and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.
Floyd was taken to a hospital, where a CT scan on his neck reportedly was negative. He was able to join the Chargers on their flight back to San Diego.
In the Washington-Green Bay game, Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather launched himself at Packers rookie Eddie Lacy, knocking the running back out of the game with a helmet-to-helmet hit. Meriweather has a history of that type of hit but wasn't flagged on the play.
One quarter later, Meriweather left the game because of a concussion after a hit from James Starks, Lacy's replacement.
Also evaluated for a concussion Sunday was Houston receiver Andre Johnson.
On the run
Everyone knows that Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, and the Packers star proved that again Sunday, throwing for a franchise record-tying 480 yards and four touchdowns in a rout of the Redskins.
But even more encouraging for Green Bay was the way Starks ran the ball in place of the injured Lacy. Starks, who rushed for 132 yards, looked the way he did during Green Bay's Super Bowl run in the 2010 season. The Packers' last 100-yard rushing game came from Starks in their playoff opener on Jan. 8, 2011.
According to the Packers, Sunday was the first time in NFL history that any team had a 450-yard passer and 125-yard rusher in the same game.
Also, with the receiving performance of James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, it's easy to see why the Packers didn't scramble to re-sign Greg Jennings or Donald Driver.
Delay of games
In the first two weeks, three games have been delayed because of lightning.
San Francisco at Seattle was delayed for one hour Sunday night, following a 69-minute stoppage of the New Orleans-Tampa Bay game.
The Kickoff Opener between Baltimore and Denver got underway 33 minutes late, because of a storm passing over the Mile High City.
Memo to Chicago's upcoming opponents: Don't make Devin Hester mad.
The Bears returner was steamed Sunday when Minnesota rookie Cordarrelle Patterson ran back the game's opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown.
"It [ticked] me off to have someone come into our home turf and take one to the house," Hester said, adding, "I was so [ticked] before the kickoff, I was praying, 'Please, I don't care how deep the guy kicks it, I'm bringing it out.' That's the mentality I took."
Hester wound up returning five kickoffs for a team-record 249 yards, including returns of 75 and 80 yards.
It was a great Sunday for the AFC West, which was 4-0, and a lousy one for the NFC East, which was 0-4.
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