5 takeaways from Chargers’ win over Eagles: Dustin Hopkins kicks-starts special teams

With Ty Long holding, Chargers' Dustin Hopkins kicks his game-winning field goal against the Eagles.
With Ty Long holding, Chargers’ Dustin Hopkins kicks his game-winning field goal against the Eagles.
(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

The Chargers ended a two-game losing streak Sunday and improved to 5-3 (4-2 in one-score games) with a last-second, 27-24 victory at Philadelphia. Here are five takeaways from their win:

Kickin’ it with the new guy

In a raucous locker room afterward, kicker Dustin Hopkins was cited for his tiebreaking, 29-yard field goal with two seconds left.

“I had to introduce myself to some of the fellas before I said anything,” the veteran later joked.


After being released by Washington last month, Hopkins signed with the Chargers following their off week. Sunday was his second game with the team.

This was the fifth game-winning kick of Hopkins’ career, according to the CBS telecast.

The Eagles gave the Chargers a battle in a back-and-forth game, but Justin Herbert led a decisive drive in the final seconds to earn a 27-24 victory.

Nov. 7, 2021

“Kickers, we got a stigma about us,” he said. “I don’t want to say we’re outsiders, but it’s just a different job being super specialized. ... So, anytime you can start off well and try to build those relationships early, I think it helps things in the long run.”

The winning kick was a bounce back for Hopkins too. He missed a third-quarter extra point that forced the Chargers to later go for two, an attempt that succeeded when Justin Herbert passed to Jared Cook.

Hopkins said he rushed through his pre-kick process on the failed extra point when he noticed the play-clock ticking down.

Runnin’ it back with the other new guy

Along with Hopkins, the Chargers also received special teams contributions from veteran Andre Roberts, who averaged 24 yards on four kick returns — including a 39-yarder — and ran back a punt 10 yards.


Roberts was released by Houston last month and signed with the Chargers a few days later.

“I felt like our return game really showed up,” coach Brandon Staley said. “I really felt our special teams unit for the first time this season where I felt like we had an advantage.”

 Chargers wide receiver Andre Roberts picks up a kickoff that got loose against the Eagles.
Recently signed Chargers receiver/kick returner Andre Roberts did some good things with the ball in his hands against the Eagles.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Special teams coordinator Derius Swinton II last week said he felt good about his group’s chances Sunday because, like the Chargers, the Eagles employ several younger players in the kicking game.

The Chargers struggled on special teams against Baltimore and New England, both of which use more veterans.

“It’ll be fun going against a group that’s age-wise right there with us,” Swinton said. “We match up well with them. I think we’ll come out and perform well.”

He was proved correct.

One stop is better than none

The Chargers, who entered Sunday last in the NFL in run defense, again struggled stopping the run, Philadelphia finishing with 176 yards in 39 carries.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts produced 62 yards in 10 carries, converting on third and eight with a 12-yard scramble on a third-quarter drive that ended with a touchdown.

But the Chargers got the lone stop of the second half as both offenses took over. Philadelphia had a three-and-out on its opening possession of the third quarter.

The Chargers were playing without starting cornerbacks Michael Davis (hamstring) and Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion protocol). Backup safety Alohi Gilman (ankle) also was out.

Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Chargers’ 27-24 victory over Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday — scoring and statistics.

Nov. 7, 2021

Those absences meant more time mostly for Tevaughn Campbell, who had been questionable because of a groin issue, and Ryan Smith.

“We’re down two starters at corner, and [when] the deck’s stacked against you like that, you gotta respond,” Staley said.

Secondary woes abound

Veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr. has had some rough moments the last two games. He was on the wrong end of a pair of big completions — 27 and 28 yards — from Hurts to rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith, the Eagles’ longest plays of the game.

“There were a couple plays in there that I know he would like to have back,” Staley said. “But he’s just one of those really rock-solid pieces for us.”

The Chargers like Harris because of his experience and versatility. He can play inside and outside and also has lined up at safety. Staley called him “a big asset.”

The 28-yard catch by Smith went for a score, helping the Eagles tie the score 24-24 in the fourth quarter.

Staley took the blame for that play. He said he called a defense that mistakenly left Harris alone on Smith.

Standing O for the O-line

The Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert passes behind good protection.
The Chargers offensive line did a better job protecting quarterback Justin Herbert .
(Rich Schultz / Associated Press)

Staley made a point to recognize his offensive line. The right side of that line — tackle Storm Norton and guard Michael Schofield — has had some tough patches this season.

“Our O-line really won the day today,” Staley said.

The Chargers managed to better protect Herbert and also converted two fourth downs on their game-clinching drive.

“The last two games, not his best stuff from a timing perspective,” Staley said of Herbert. “Today, really good timing. Our offensive line had a lot to do with that.”