Look At Us Now!
Birds Exact Super Revenge, Rally To Down Chiefs
The forecast in Kansas City on Monday night suggested anything but a repeat of the offensive masterclass from nine months ago, when the Eagles and Chiefs met at State Farm Arena in Super Bowl LVII.
Instead, the highly anticipated rematch presented an early running game bonanza, with explosive plays in the passing game few and far between.
While it wasn’t exactly picture perfect, the Eagles rallied to upend the Chiefs, 21-17, on “Monday Night Football.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes took the field with 2:49 remaining in the game, his team needing a touchdown to go ahead. A fourth-down, 4-yard completion to tight end Travis Kelce kept the drive alive.
But any home crowd optimism faded three plays later, when wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling failed to reel in the go-ahead touchdown that hit his hands after he had beaten Eagles corner Bradley Roby by several steps.
Defensive end Josh Sweat forced an intentional grounding penalty on the ensuing play, setting up a 4th-and-25. Mahomes’ last-ditch pass fell incomplete.
The Eagles (9-1), coming off the bye week, trailed by 10 to the Chiefs (7-3) at the break, but some timely defensive stops – coupled with a pair of Jalen Hurts touchdown plunges – positioned the Eagles to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Hurts completed 14-of-22 pass attempts for 150 yards and an interception. Wide receiver DeVonta Smith snared six of his eight targets for 99 yards and running back D’Andre Swift rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Veteran safety Kevin Byard led the Eagles’ defensive surge, registering a team-high eight tackles and an interception.
Let’s go ahead with the observations:
* For the second consecutive week, the Eagles activated LB Ben VanSumeren from the practice squad. While VanSumeren hardly factors into the defensive equation, the undrafted rookie provides a boost on special teams in a game in which the margin for error is razor thin. VanSumeren has one elevation remaining before a decision needs to be made.
* On the second play of the game, Eagles EDGE Haason Reddick became the first Eagle since Hugh Douglas to record a sack in four consecutive road games. Reddick dropped Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes for a 9-yard loss.
* Monday night marked the first game in which the Eagles’ veteran-laden secondary, including CB Bradley Roby and S Kevin Byard, played together. Roby made a key 3rd-and-19 stop on RB Jerick McKinnon, limiting the running back to a gain of only four yards.
* Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra took the field for the Eagles’ first offensive possession in 12 personnel as the Eagles played their first game without Pro Bowl TE Dallas Goedert. Calcaterra came on for Stoll the following play, running a short route to the right.
* Little resistance early from the Eagles’ defense, which appeared off-balance. On the Chiefs’ second possession, which covered 75 yards in 10 plays, Kansas City converted a pair of third downs on a drive largely powered by RB Isiah Pacheco and WR Kadarius Toney. Eagles DE Josh Sweat also was called offsides.
* DT Milton Williams often gets lost amongst his star-studded position group, but the third-year lineman routinely comes up big, due to effort and disruptive tendencies. On a 2nd-and-5, Williams knifed into the backfield to drop Pacheco for a 2-yard loss. On the final play of the opening frame, Williams combined with Jordan Davis to limit Pacheco to no gain. Williams maximized his opportunities until leaving with a concussion.
* Byard appeared to be the culprit on Kansas City’s first touchdown, a three-yard toss in the back of the end zone to a wide-open Justin Watson.
*Big-time answer by the Eagles on the ensuing possession, rolling up 70 yards on nine plays, culminating in a D’Andre Swift 4-yard touchdown run. Jalen Hurts established an early connection with wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who snared both targets for 31 yards. Swift rushed for 33 yards on five carries on the drive as the Eagles pounced on the Chiefs’ 17th-ranked run defense.
* WR Olamide Zaccheaus is probably the Eagles’ second best blocking wide receiver behind Smith, but he got away with a hold on Swift’s touchdown.
* Bit of an odd sequence midway through the second quarter: Eagles WR A.J. Brown beat Chiefs CB L’Jarius Sneed off the line and called for the ball early. Hurts, who was being blitzed, threw it to him late and to a different spot, which resulted in Sneed intercepting the pass. As Sneed attempted a return, it appeared Brown had pried the ball out, but it was ruled that his shin had grazed Sneed beforehand, ruling him down.
* Byard showcased his veteran savvy before the break, redeeming himself with an interception in the end zone for a touchback. Byard appeared to bait Mahomes, who severely under-threw Watson for what would have been a touchdown. Early gaffe aside, Byard was among the few standouts. The 30-year-old impressed in coverage and run defense.
* Chiefs WR Kadarius Toney gashed the Eagles’ punt coverage once again – like he did in the Super Bowl – as he slithered his way for a 21-yard return. Rookie S Sydney Brown whiffed on the initial tackle. The Chiefs capitalized on the prime field position, executing a seven-play, 40-yard scoring march, culminating in a 4-yard touchdown toss to TE Travis Kelce.
* The Chiefs, who entered Monday night ranked third in the league in sacks (31), dropped Hurts five times in the first half alone.
* The Eagles entered Monday night boasting the NFL’s top run defense, holding opponents to an average of 66.3 yards per game, but they had surrendered 121 at the break.
* While the passing games were largely grounded for both sides in the first half due to rain – Mahomes and Hurts combined for just 124 yards – it was still staggering to see that Brown and Smith – among the league’s most prolific receiving duos – had combined for just 39 yards on three receptions at the break.
* Chiefs CB Trent McDuffie is coming into his own in his second season. The Washington product collected two first half sacks and forced his fifth fumble of the season. His play style reminds me of four-time All-Pro DB Tyrann Mathieu, a former Chief.
* Josh Jobe and Kelee Ringo do such a good job sealing the perimeter on punt return, giving WR/PR Britain Covey room and time to navigate returns. Covey took back three punts for 53 yards, including a 26-yarder.
* It’s not often you see the Eagles manhandled in the trenches, but Kansas City decidedly won matchups on both sides of the ball. With the exception of the Reddick sack on the game’s second play, the Chiefs’ OL blanked an Eagles DL that coming into the game ranked fourth in the NFL in sacks (30).
* Tough day at the office for Hurts, who frequently dropped his eyes, uncharacteristically struggled identifying blitzers pre-snap, and often held onto the ball too long. But despite his shortcomings, Hurts delivered in crunch time, orchestrating a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive in which he completed consecutive passes of 13 and 41 yards to DeVonta Smith, the latter of which brought the Eagles to the 1-yard line with 6:55 remaining in regulation and set up the go-ahead “tush push” touchdown.
* Tough sequence for CB Darius Slay, who was tacked with a pass interference penalty on a deep shot intended for WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and on a 3rd-and-8, rookie CB Eli Ricks was called for an illegal contact.
* The Eagles defense forced its second key turnover in the final frame that negated points when Roby punched the ball out of Travis Kelce’s hands following a 9-yard reception. LB Nicholas Morrow recovered at the Philadelphia 10-yard-line, marking a major turn of momentum. Both takeaways occurred in the red zone.
* For all the talk surrounding Travis Kelce and the Kansas City offense, the Eagles’ defense elevated its performance, holding the Chiefs to just 17 points, securing a major takeaway, and eliminating explosive plays. The defense blanked Kansas City in the second half.
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.