When Andy Reid came back to Philadelphia on Thursday night, it was apparent that the Eagles wanted to show him what he was missing out on: five turnovers, one missed field goal, six penalties, one failed two point conversion, and some poor pass protection; in short they relapsed to the 2012 Eagles. Make no mistake, Kansas City did not play a clean game by any means, but they did not turn the ball over once and that was clearly the biggest difference in the game.
Right from the gun the Chiefs looked better than the home town Eagles. Quintin Demps took the opening kick back 57 yards to the Philadelphia 48. The three and out forced by the Philly defense proved to be useless as Damaris Johnson muffed the punt, spotting Kansas City a field goal. Michael Vick then threw a pick-six on his second pass attempt of the game, placing Philly in a 10-point hole early; 10 points that proved to be the difference in the game. So immediately Chip Kelly’s team was in catch-up mode and they responded well with a quick touchdown drive (after the teams traded punts) that included a Vick 61-yard dash and a Jason Avant 20 yard touchdown reception. The Eagles decided to open up the old high school play-book and run a swinging gate two-point conversion, but the Chiefs were wise enough to sniff it out, so the score remained 10-6.
Early on the Philly defense was doing its job. They were playing pretty tight coverage and getting a good pass rush on Alex Smith. Smith will almost never take any chances with the ball so he was forced to eat the ball quite a bit early or run the ball along the perimeter for minimal gains. Unfortunately the Eagle offense was not able to capitalize on the chances their defense was giving them. After a Kansas City punt the birds put the ball on the ground again. Center Jason Kelce made a poor snap and Justin Houston was able to pounce on the loose ball at mid-field. This lead to a missed field goal off the foot of Ryan Succop, so the score remained frozen at 10-6.
At this point Philadelphia had to be feeling pretty good about things. They had turned the ball over three times in the first quarter and were still only down by four. This changed when Vick was sacked on a 3rd and 10 (forcing them to punt). The Chiefs were able to add another field goal to push their lead to seven at that point. Another Michael Vick interception late in the second quarter lead to another KC field goal and the visiting Chiefs took a 16-6 lead into the half.
Philly came out to start the second half about as uninspired as they did in the first as they were forced to punt the ball away after advancing it to the Chiefs side of the field. On their second drive they were able to tack on a field goal to cut the deficit back down to seven, but at this point this game seemed as if it were un-winnable for Philadelphia. They were unable to put together consistent drives, as the Kansas City defense was solid all night. Their corners did an excellent job locking down DeSean Jackson and the host of Philly receivers. LeSean McCoy was about the only asset the Eagles had on the night and he suffered a knee injury going into halftime (he was able to show some toughness by returning to the field in the second half). Anyways, the Chiefs ended up neutralizing the Alex Henery field goal by scoring a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Jamaal Charles was about to crank his game up as he rushed right along the edge to bring the lead back to 23-9.
It didn’t take the Eagles very long to respond to this however, as they ran five plays in 1:21 and were able to put up a touchdown. This came on a LeSean McCoy 41 yard gash (through a gaping hole created by Jason Kelce). McCoy would finish the evening with 158 yards rushing on just 20 carries (following a potentially horrific injury). What happened next in this game was a thing of beauty for the Chiefs and a nightmare for the Eagles. Kansas City was able to push the lead back to 10 with a 38 yard field goal by Succop. The score was important, but the time they wasted to get that score was ideal. The blood-sucking 15 play, 8:15 drive ended up limiting Philly’s chances for a comeback as they had to try and make up a 26-16 deficit in just 3:21 left in the game. Ultimately they could not do it and the Chiefs would reward their new head coach in his old city with a solid victory (followed by a Gatorade bath).
Besides the basics in this game, it is easy to see that Kansas City simply outplayed Philadelphia. The KC defensive line harassed the Eagles O-line, getting to Michael Vick a whopping five times. Justin Houston had a monster game, contributing to four and a half of those sacks. He also had three passes defended and one forced fumble (along with two fumble recoveries). Needless to say, his effort alone could have been what won the Chiefs this game. If it weren’t squarely placed on Houston’s shoulders, the Kansas City corners were also key to this victory. Sean Smith completely shut down Riley Cooper and Brandon Flowers did an excellent job taking away DeSean Jackson. Michael Vick clearly had an off night but even if he were on his game the Philly receivers were not able to create a lot of separation. One thing that I did notice was that Vick missed a couple of easy 10 yard+ completions to his running backs. He had Bryce Brown wide open down the sidelines late in the first half and he missed Shady McCoy on the outside on a couple of third down situations. For the Eagles, they need to do a better job getting the ball in the hands of their tail-backs in the passing game, especially when the wide outs were getting locked down like they were. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek were nearly invisible throughout this game as well. It goes without saying that the Philadelphia passing offense was pretty ugly on this night. They were able to run for 260 yards but when trailing the whole game, that isn’t always the best way to catch up.
Offensively for the Chiefs, Donnie Avery shined. He caught seven passes for 141 yards (with a long of 51) and nearly missed a giant touchdown in this game. Jamaal Charles was a valuable receiver out of the backfield as he hurt the Eagles on seven different occasions for 80 yards. Dwayne Bowe only made one catch for four yards, but it came on a third down and 1 on the Chiefs 8:15 drive. Again, Alex Smith did an excellent job managing this game. He completed 22 of his 35 passes for 273 yards. He did not throw a touchdown but he also did not throw an interception. He was careful not to give the ball away and Kansas City benefited from this as they rode a strong performance by their pass defense all the way to victory.
At the end of the day, Andy Reid is the major victor in this game. His Chiefs are now 3-0 and sitting at the top of the AFC West. They have not turned the ball over through three games and are looking solid on defense. This is a good team and they are looking more and more like a dangerous playoff threat every week. Meanwhile the Eagles just can’t seem to win a game at home. It has been almost a full calendar year since they took a game at the Linc and that is something that they are going to need to improve. This team has a tall task ahead of them against the Broncos next Sunday while the Chiefs will go home to play the New York Giants in ten days. Kansas City fans have a ton of reason to feel optimistic about this team. Heck, they already have more wins this year than they had all of last year and plus through three games in 2012 the team had turned the ball over nine times. The Alex Smith-Andy Reid connection is proving to be a match made in heaven as the team takes another tough game against an NFC East opponent.