PHILADELPHIA – It wasn’t always pretty, but the Kansas City Chiefs are 3-0 in coach Andy Reid’s first season after beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 26-16, in Reid’s return to the City of Brotherly Love.
“It’s a good win, coming off a short week the way they went about their business of preparing for a good football team,” Reid said during his postgame media session. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, it was a tough game.”
Ultimately, Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s fast-tempo offense proved no match for arguably one of the NFL’s elite defenses of the young season.
Third-year linebacker Justin Houston continued his rise to superstardom with six tackles, an assist, 3 ½ sacks and two fumble recoveries. Houston now has 6 ½ sacks through three games.
As a team, the Chiefs got to Eagles quarterback Michael Vick five times. Linebacker Tamba Hali had one sack, while linebacker Derrick Johnson split a sack with Houston.
The Chiefs also forced five turnovers (two interceptions and three fumble recoveries) and safety Eric Berry returned an interception for a score in the first quarter. Cornerback Sean Smith snared the other interception.
Thursday night marked the second straight week the Chiefs defense more than held its own against a potent offense.
The Eagles (1-2) entered the game scoring 30 or more points in the previous two games before running into the Houston-led brick wall.
Still, for all the success the Chiefs had on defense, questions still linger on offense.
The Chiefs were in the red zone three times in the first half, yet could only muster three field goals.
“If we’re any better with the way our defense was playing, the game wouldn’t have been as close as it was,” quarterback Alex Smith said during his postgame media session. “It’s certainly something we need to get better at. We had a lot of opportunities down there early. We just got to capitalize at least a couple times and it’s certainly an area for improvement for us.”
Running back Jamaal Charles finished the first half with 14 yards rushing on six carries and the offensive line, especially rookie right tackle Eric Fisher, struggled in pass protection.
On the game, the Chiefs were 6-of-18 on third down (33 percent) and the Eagles sacked Smith five times.
While the offense sputtered, the defense continued to hold the Eagles at bay as the Chiefs took a 16-6 lead into halftime.
After Alex Henery kicked a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter to pull the Eagles within a touchdown at 16-9, the Chiefs offense eventually got it going to close out the period.
Starting at its own 38-yard line following a Henery’s missed 48-yard field goal attempt, Smith led the team down the field on an apparent back-breaking drive, which was capped off by a Charles 3-yard touchdown run to put the Chiefs up 23-9.
The big play of the drive came on a second-and-14 play when Smith, who completed 22-of-35 passes for 273 yards on the night, found wide receiver Donnie Avery for a 23-yard gain.
Avery turned out to be Smith’s favorite target, catching seven passes for 141 yards, including a 51-yard reception.
But the Eagles quickly got on the board following a 41-yard scoring run by running back LeSean McCoy to pull within a touchdown, 23-16, with 11:36 remaining in the game.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Chiefs offense saved the best for last by utilizing a clock-killing drive, which featured a steady dose of Charles and another big play by Avery.
Starting on its own 5-yard line, the Chiefs methodically marched down the field resulting in kicker Ryan Succop’s 38-yard field goal, his fourth of the night, to round out the scoring.
The drive was highlighted by Charles’ 29 total yards (26 rushing) and Avery’s 15-yard reception.
After a slow start to the game, Charles totaled 92 yards rushing and a touchdown on 20 carries and 80 yards receiving on eight catches.
As for one of the game’s biggest storylines, Reid’s return to a city where he coached for 14 seasons proved a success. The Eagles fans gave him a warm reception and Reid said after the game he appreciated their support.
Reid was also happy to see his former players as well as the main reason he was in town.
“Coming back, I really didn’t think much about it until the game was over, it was great to see the guys, the players that are here,” Reid said. “I had a chance to talk to a couple of them after the game. It’s all kind of settling in right now. I’m glad we won the game.”
Notes: Staring left guard Jeff Allen left the game with a groin injury … Geoff Schwartz finished the game in Allen’s place … Starting cornerback Brandon Flowers aggravated a knee injury … The Chiefs controlled time of possession, 39:07 to the Eagles’ 20:53 … The Chiefs have gone three straight games without a turnover … The Chiefs have 10 days before hosting the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium.