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EAGLES 20, CHARGERS 17

Eagles script special ending with block

PHILADELPHIA -- A big play from their much-maligned special teams saved the Philadelphia Eagles on a day their once-potent offense was ordinary again.

Quintin Mikell blocked a field goal, and Matt Ware returned it 65 yards for a touchdown with 2:25 left, leading the Eagles to a 20-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers yesterday.

''All year, we've had some bad breaks on special teams and some silly mistakes. But to come out and put it all together and make a play was great," Mikell said.

LaDainian Tomlinson was held to a career-low 7 yards rushing on 17 carries and his NFL-record tying streak of games scoring a touchdown ended at 18.

Drew Brees rallied the Chargers from a 10-0 deficit with a pair of TD passes, but San Diego couldn't put the game away after the Eagles failed to convert on fourth and 1 at their 30 with under four minutes to play. With Nate Kaeding lined up for a 40-yard attempt, Mikell leaped to swat away the ball with his left hand, and Ware picked it up after one bounce and raced into the end zone.

''Usually it takes a funky bounce after a block, but this one came right up and it was, 'Whoa, Look at this!' " Ware said. ''I said, 'This is it,' and started running. You know, high knees and pumping arms, and the guys were blocking for me. It's been since high school that I scored a TD. I saw the fans down in that end zone going crazy and they were getting closer and closer and the people were getting bigger."

The Chargers drove to Philadelphia's 19 on the ensuing possession, but Sheldon Brown stripped Reche Caldwell, and Darwin Walker recovered.

In a strange game that featured a ton of flags, including several that weren't penalties, the stadium's fire alarm went off late and fans were asked to leave. Very few complied and there was no delay. The sirens were set off accidentally, team officials said.

Donovan McNabb set an Eagles record with 35 completions in 54 attempts for 287 yards and one TD pass, and Terrell Owens caught his 100th career TD pass as Philadelphia improved to 4-2.

McNabb, playing through a sports hernia that will require surgery, broke Randall Cunningham's record of 34 completions against Washington in 1989 as the Eagles' offense had just 10 rushing attempts, excluding McNabb's scrambles and kneel-downs. Philly has one offensive TD the last two games.

''You have to run the ball more, but when you get into a rhythm, you have to stay with what's working," McNabb said.

In his worst game as a pro, Tomlinson, who came in with 652 yards rushing and 13 TDs (rushing, receiving, and passing), lost yards on each of his first four carries and didn't have positive yards until the final quarter. He shares the NFL record for consecutive games scoring TDs with Baltimore's Lenny Moore, who scored in 18 straight from 1963-65.

''It's not so much a disappointment," Tomlinson said. ''I've had a great run at it."

Shut down for the first 2 1/2 quarters, the Chargers (3-4) relied on Brees's short passes to come back from a 10-0 deficit. Brees tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Keenan McCardell to make it 10-7 late in the third quarter, and Antonio Gates's 8-yard TD catch on the third play of the fourth quarter gave San Diego a 14-10 lead.

''We're a good team," said Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, whose team's losses are by a combined 12 points. ''As long as we continue to play with that kind of effort and energy that we're playing with, we're going to be able to do the things we set out to do."

The Eagles, who haven't scored in the first quarter since Week 2 against San Francisco, needed plenty of help to find the end zone.

A penalty on Randall Godfrey for roughing McNabb negated a lost fumble by L.J. Smith. The normally mild-mannered McNabb got in Godfrey's face after he was driven hard into the ground, but backed away. It was the second roughing call against the Chargers during the drive.

A few plays later, McNabb scrambled and found Owens for a 4-yard TD catch as the Eagles took a 7-0 lead with 4:52 left in the first half. Owens pulled out a towel, wiped down the ball, and walked away holding it up to the crowd as if he were a waiter serving a dish. McCardell imitated the celebration after his score.

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