In the closing moments of the Kansas City Chiefs 26-16 win against his old team, the Philadelphia Eagles, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid got a congratulatory Gatorade shower from his players, numerous hugs and handshakes from his coaching staff, a standing ovation from the group of red-clad Chiefs fans in the stands, and as he walked off the field as a victor, a kiss from his wife. Then, for the first time all week long, Reid broke down and allowed himself to smile and have some laughs.
That’s what a head coach can do when he knows his defense is playing lights-out and has now held two powerful offenses in check in consecutive weeks. Reid’s homecoming to the city where he coached for 14 mostly-successful years ended with hugs and smiles because his defense forced five turnovers – with one pick-six touchdown by safety Eric Berry – and sacked Eagles QB Michael Vick five times.
LB Justin Houston will get serious consideration for picking up his second AFC Defensive Player of the Week award of the year with a 3.5 sack performance, which gives him a league-leading 6.5 sacks for the year. Houston’s sack and fumble recovery on Vick with 1:30 left in the game sealed the victory for KC.
Offensively, the Chiefs struggled mightily for the first three quarters of the game, failing time after time to take advantage of the Philadelphia turnovers the defense was getting. Despite stellar field position, the offense looked agonizingly familiar to last year when the offense could not score touchdowns even under the best of circumstances.
Kansas City’s offensive line could not keep the Eagles pass rush off of QB Alex Smith’s back and even with getting almost every break in the book, they could only manage three Ryan Succop field goals and a 16-6 halftime lead. The only bright spot for the Chiefs was the performance of wide receiver Donnie Avery, who torched the Eagles defense for 100 yards receiving on just 5 catches in the first half.
The third quarter was actually painful to watch for fans of both teams and the Eagles got the only score of the quarter when Alex Henery kicked a field goal to draw the Eagles to within a touchdown and a 16-9 score. However, when Henery missed a 48-yard field goal with 2:42 left in the quarter, the Chiefs offense suddenly shook off whatever funk it had been in all game and imposed its will on the Eagles.
Taking over on their 38-yard line, suddenly Jamaal Charles had holes to run through, Smith had more time to throw the ball, and the offensive line stopped making the mistakes it had made for the previous 42 minutes.
Smith drove the Chiefs downfield in a methodical and deliberate manner that ate up the game clock and gave a tired Chiefs defense a little bit of a breather. Charles went around rookie Eric Fisher’s blocking for a 3-yard touchdown run that put KC up 23-9 with 13 minutes left in the game.
Then the Eagles did what they had done many times during the first two games of the season in Coach Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense and went 78 yards in just five plays and a 1:30 off the clock. RB LeSean McCoy broke through an obviously gassed Chiefs defense for a 41-yard touchdown run and suddenly the score was 23-16 with momentum and the hometown crowd on Philly’s side.
Dexter McCluster mishandled the ensuing kickoff and fumbled the ball at the one-yard line. By the time he picked the ball up, he was gang tackled at the 5-yard line and the Chiefs suddenly had a re-energized Eagles defense – and 95 yards of football field – in front of them, a raucous end zone crowd behind them, and 11:36 slow-moving minutes on the game clock. (Note: McCluster was misidentified in an earlier version of this article as Quintin Demps. My apologies to my readers and Mr. Demps and serves me right for ignoring my accurate game notes and relying on the official NFL game book for facts!)
And then came what might become the signature offensive drive of the season for the Chiefs should the team make the playoffs fourteen weeks from now.
Smith, Charles and the offense once again moved the ball steadily downfield, picking up five first downs to keep the down markers and the game clock moving. By the time Succop nailed his fourth field goal of the game, the Chiefs had run 15 plays and killed 8:15 off the clock. The 38-yard field goal put the Chiefs up 26-16 and even the Eagles high-flying offense couldn’t hope to get two scores in the game’s final three minutes.
The Chiefs now stand 3-0 and in first place in the AFC West, already besting their win total of 2012 in the first month of the season. Reid said that the plane ride home will be a fun one and the team can take a much-needed break over the weekend and heal up. With two road wins already, the Chiefs are putting themselves in a position where making the playoffs might not be such a pipe dream after all.
The team will play four of their next five games at Arrowhead Stadium, beginning with a Sept. 29 match-up with another one of Reid’s old NFC East foes, the New York Giants.
Like this article? If you want your Chiefs news delivered with an Examiner twist, simply hit the SUBSCRIBE button on this page. It’s FREE and you can cancel at any time. The good part about the game was the win on national television, but the bad part was the fact that I did not play the Chiefs defense in my Fantasy Sports Writers Association Expert’s Fantasy Football League and lost out on 22 fantasy points. That mistake is somewhat less painful because at the last minute I inserted Donnie Avery into my lineup and got 21 points out of him as my #3 WR. Sweet!!
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