PHILADELPHIA - Eagles fans were pumped before Sunday's home-opener.
They crammed the stands at Lincoln Financial Field, giddy and anxious to watch new coach Chip Kelly and his turbo-charged offense take on the San Diego Chargers.
But their excitement eventually turned to disappointment.
While the Eagles' offense lived up to expectations, the defense struggled mightily in a 33-30 loss that marked the Eagles' seventh straight defeat at the Linc dating back to last season.
So much for home-field advantage.
"A close loss like this hurts, especially when you look at all the plays we could have made and didn't," Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said. "But our goal was never to go undefeated. Our goal is to try and win a championship and that doesn't change. This is a long season and we just have to keep fighting."
The Eagles looked ready to take control of a wild game when quarterback Michael Vick scored on a 2-yard run to put the Eagles ahead 27-23 midway through the fourth quarter, but the defense couldn't contain Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers.
With the game tied 30-30, Rivers calmly led the Chargers on a nine-play, 51-yard drive that set the stage for place-kicker Nick Novak's 46-yard field goal - his fourth of the game - with seven seconds left in regulation.
The Eagles' fans who were yelling so loudly just moments earlier, filed out of the stadium in silence.
"I think it is just the mentality of this team to be road warriors out there," Novak said. "I love it when the crowd is so against you and all you hear is the other team is going to win. Then I have a chance to quiet them down."
The Eagles wasted another terrific performance by their offense.
Vick completed 24-of-37 passes for a career-high 428 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 23 yards and a TD.
"I thought the things were were able to do offensively were successful, but it's tough," Vick said. "We should have scored more touchdowns."
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and McCoy were his top receivers.
Jackson repeatedly sped past Chargers defensive backs for big gains. He caught nine passes for 193 yards and brought the crowd to its feet when he raced past Chargers cornerback Shareese Wright during a 61-yard catch and run in the third quarter.
"As a wide receiver, you love to get those opportunities," Jackson said. "In general, I think we did everything we could to give ourselves a chance to win this game. We just kind of came up short toward the end."
McCoy played a different role in the offense this time. In last Monday's opener at Washington, he rushed for 184 yards on 31 carries. With the Chargers packed in to stop the run, McCoy caught five passes for 114 yards.
The Eagles scored at least 30 points for the second time in as many games following Monday's 33-27 win at Washington.
"We felt like there were a number of things we could have done to score more points out there," Kelly said. "Sometimes 30 is enough, but not this time. We just couldn't get (the Chargers' offense) off the field."
The Eagles' defense couldn't stop Rivers.
Rivers repeatedly found holes in the Eagles' secondary while completing 36 of 47 passes for 419 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Tight end Antonio Gates bounced off Eagles' defenders while catching eight passes for 124 yards. Wide receiver Eddie Royal had three touchdown catches.
"I think this just says a lot about our football team as a gritty, gutty, tough team," Rivers said. "Everybody talks about us out there on the West Coast and Southern California, but we've got a lot of gritty, tough guys that fight until the end."
The Eagles don't have a lot of time to mope.
They will be back on the same field on Thursday night, when they play host to former coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are 2-0 after Sunday's 17-16 victory over Dallas.
It will be the Eagles' third game in 11 days.
"It's just another football game," Vick said. "We have to get ready and we can't focus on the whole dynamic of the situation. We have a football game to prepare for and we have to do everything to ensure that we have a chance to win the football game."
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