Big Red feeling sweet
This was a typical Andy Reid game. Well, a typical Andy Reid game at the end of his long tenure here in Philadelphia.
The night started with a Damaris Johnson mishandling a punt and handing the Chiefs excellent field position. But Reid’s new team went three-and-out inside the 10-yard line and settled for a field goal.
The rest of the night followed the same script, chock full of miscues and stalled drives, and the Chiefs still walked away with a 26-16 victory in Reid’s South Philadelphia homecoming. Reid got a standing ovation before the game started, just not after it.
“You never think you’ll be back here, but on this day, red never felt better,” Reid said. “I appreciate the fans, everything that happened here. But this is sweet. We’re 3-0 and it makes the plane rides easier, but we still have a lot to improve on.”
Overall, the game was marred by sloppy play and questionable decision-making. The teams combined for 15 penalties, with a whopping nine on Kansas City. Eagles center Jason Kelce was uncharacteristically bad, especially on his botched snap that bounced off Todd Herremans’ thigh and resulted in a fumble. Mike Vick was under duress on every snap, even though the Chiefs never blitzed.
“The one turnover was my fault, and that’s the worst kind of mistake you can make on offense,” Kelce said. “The last two games we have survived a little too much on the big play and made too many mistakes that resulted in the other team putting points on the board. Way too many mistakes, especially on the offensive line.”
The Birds turned the ball over five times, including three Vick picks (one fumble), but the Chiefs always seemed to bail them out by kicking field goals. Kansas City’s first offensive touchdown came late in the fourth quarter. Credit the Eagles’ defense for keeping them in this one.
“When you turn the ball over, you give the other team a chance,” cornerback Cary Williams said. “We made plays, we just didn’t make plays at the wire. You know those guys get paid, too. We weren’t able to stop them.”
As bad as Vick was — 13-of-30, 49.4 QB rating — Alex Smith (25-of35, 87.0) was equally ineffective. The key difference was Smith was able to prevent the big mistake.
“You have to credit the defense,” DeSean Jackson said. “They showed some different looks to him [Vick]. He is a great player, but sometimes you have tough games. We will learn from this and move forward.”
Chip Kelly showed his inexperience, too. Actually, some might paint it as “innovativeness.” Kelly was known for being a gambler at Oregon, a coach that wouldn’t be afraid to go for a fourth down or a two-point conversion. Early in the first quarter, after Vick had connected with Jason Avant on a 22-yard score, Kelly went for two. The move backfired as the Chiefs snuffed it out at the line of scrimmage.
“We thought we’ve worked on it for awhile,” Kelly said. “Guys came from the inside and tackled us.”
Reid wasn’t much better. In a very familiar scene, the ex-Eagles coach burned his first-half timeouts too soon and displayed poor clock management at the end of the first half. He allowed Smith to run the clock from 29 seconds down to seven, then watched in horror as a delay of game penalty took the Chiefs out of field goal range.
The Eagles also escaped disaster when LeSean McCoy returned from what looked like an ankle sprain at first glance. The running back walked into the locker room at the end of the first half, but he came right back out to start the third quarter. McCoy still finished with 158 yards on 20 carries. He was noticeably limping in the postgame locker room.
Williams admitted that all the Eagles limped into the locker room, feeling somber and dejected. Kelly tried to lift their spirits with a rallying cry.
“He said to believe what he’s planning is going to work,” Williams said. “We believe him. He’s our coach.”
Chiefs faking injuries?
Several Eagles accused Redskins players of faking injuries in Week 1 to slow down the Eagles’ hyper-speed offense. Well, it appeared the Chiefs studied that film and followed the blueprint. On defense, the guys in red and white were dropping like flies in an effort to stop momentum.
At one point, late in the fourth quarter, the Linc’s Jumbotron caught Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers appearing to fall down for no reason. (For the record, he was later diagnosed with a leg injury). Eagles tight end Brent Celek immediately pointed him out to the refs. Several other Chiefs left with reported cramps.
“A lot of the time the crowd is going to think that players are faking injuries, but we were not doing that,” said Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston. “We were well-prepared for this game and ready for this game physically, so when our defensive players went down, they were really injured.”
Hero’s welcome for McNabb
Donovan McNabb, one of the most polarizing figures in Philadelphia sports history, got the send-off not everyone was sure he would get. The Eagles held a small ceremony for him at halftime and raised his No. 5 jersey to the rafters, never to be worn again.
There wasn’t a single boo for the former quarterback, as Eagles fans stood on their feet and cheered him wildly. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the most beloved Eagle of all-time, Brian Dawkins, warmed up the crowd with a rousing introduction speech.
“It was my honor to be here and introduce the greatest Philadelphia Eagle to have ever graced this field,” Dawkins shouted.
McNabb came out, grabbed the microphone and thanked the fans he had entertained for 10 years. “Know this, No. 5 will always love you.”
Then, Dawkins personally thanked McNabb for “going to war” with him every Sunday. The two Eagle greats embraced tightly at midfield and several of McNabb’s former teammates came over to pay tribute. He received more cheers as he walked off into the football sunset.
Funniest penalty of the night
With less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were flagged for a false start. The ref calmly said, “False start, everybody but the center.”