The Kansas City Chiefs held onto an early lead and overcame a big night from LeSean McCoy to improve to 3-0 with a 26-16 win over the turnover-prone Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football in Andy Reid's return to Philadelphia.
SportsCenter provided Reid's immediate thoughts following the game:
"I can tell you I enjoyed every minute here. I'm enjoying my time in Kansas City." - Andy Reid— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 20, 2013
It was a turnover party for the Eagles early on, as they dug themselves in a 10-0 hole less than four minutes into the contest. A muffed punt return by Damaris Johnson led to a Chiefs field goal, followed by an Eric Berry pick-six on the following drive.
The Pro Bowl safety corralled in a tipped Michael Vick pass and took it 40 yards to the house. It marked the first time in 96 passes that Vick had thrown a pick (the NFL's third-longest streak at the time).
CSN Philly's Reuben Frank provided Vick's take on the game:
Vick: "I take sole responsibility for what happened tonight. I didn't execute."— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) September 20, 2013
As Bleacher Report's own Aaron Nagler noted, it was just what the doctor ordered for K.C. in its hopes of keeping up with the high-flying Philly offense:
This is exactly how Kansas City needed to start. Game on.— Aaron Nagler (@Aaron_Nagler) September 20, 2013
However, the Eagles wouldn't waste much time striking back, as Vick completed a 22-yard touchdown to Jason Avant. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 10-6, but it was a 61-yard scamper from Vick that stood out from the drive.
CSN Philly pointed out it was the longest of the quarterback's career.
Longest run of Michael Vick's career.— Comcast SportsNet (@CSNPhilly) September 20, 2013
Vick ripped off a 24-yard rush in the very next drive, but a third first-quarter turnover for the Eagles—this one a botched snap—gave the Chiefs yet another opportunity to put points on the board. However, Ryan Succop then missed a 51-yard field-goal attempt.
The Chiefs offense showed signs of life with two big gains from wideout Donnie Avery—who surpassed 100 receiving yards before half—but they struggled in the red zone. Three first-half possessions inside the 20s resulted in three field goals, leaving Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders unimpressed.
Some QBs always talk about getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers. Alex Smith includes the kicker in his list of playmakers.— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) September 20, 2013
However, Philly's turnovers outweighed the Chiefs' struggles, as the visitors had the 16-6 lead at halftime. ESPN's Numbers Never Lie uncovered a crazy stat from the opening 30 minutes (the Eagles finished with five turnovers):
The Eagles have 4 turnovers tonight. That's more than 10 NFL teams have in two weeks.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) September 20, 2013
As if things couldn't get any worse for Philly, star running back LeSean McCoy went down with what appeared to be an ugly knee injury just before halftime.
B/R NFL lead writer Mike Freeman summed up the two words on everybody's minds when the ever-valuable rusher went down:
Uh. Oh.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) September 20, 2013
He returned to the game early in the third quarter to bust a 30-yard run, allowing Eagles fans to exhale a bit and causing mass fantasy football chaos, as ESPN anchor Robert Flores captured:
*cancels waiver claim on Bryce Brown* #FFNow— Robert Flores (@RoFloESPN) September 20, 2013
McCoy's return sparked the Philly offense, but not enough to get into the end zone. Eagles kicker Alex Henery made it a one-touchdown game, 16-9, at the 6:29 mark of the third.
The Eagles would use a 40-yard strike from Vick to DeSean Jackson to get into field-goal range again, but Henery missed a 48-yarder wide left.
Kansas City had nothing doing in the third quarter offensively, but Jamaal Charles propelled them to a commanding 23-9 lead minutes into the fourth quarter.
The all-important touchdown drive not only notched the Chiefs' first offensive touchdown of the night, but also ended a very embarrassing drought. Per ESPN anchor Trey Wingo:
That's the Chiefs 1st 4th quarter TD in their last 11 games.— trey wingo (@wingoz) September 20, 2013
The Eagles weren't fazed by the gut punch, as a 20-yard grab by Avant led to McCoy bursting through the Chiefs defense for 41-yard TD run that brought Philly back within a score at 23-16. The 78-yard drive took just 1:21 off the clock and left more than 11 minutes remaining.
Kansas City answered with a textbook clock-eating drive that surpassed eight minutes and 15 plays, fueled by big run after big run from Charles and timely third-down conversions from Smith. B/R's Ian Kenyon noted how displeasing the drive had to be for the Eagles' fast-paced head coach, Chip Kelly.
The pace of this drive has to be driving Chip Kelly crazy on the sideline.— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) September 20, 2013
The drive stalled at the Eagles' 20-yard line, allowing a Succop field goal to extend Kansas City's lead to 10 with just over three minutes left.
The Eagles needed a quick score, but turned the ball over on downs and effectively ended any chance of a comeback. They would get the ball back again just before the final whistle, but Vick fumbled to end the game with six team turnovers.
Notable Player Grades
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: C+
Vick couldn't keep the ball away from the K.C. defense in the first half and didn't score at will like he did in Weeks 1 and 2, but still found a way to make a few of his signature splash plays.
On the night, he finished with 13-of-30 passing for 201 yards, one TD and two interceptions along with 95 rushing yards.
The fact that one of the best running quarterbacks in history notched the longest run of his career was nothing short of inspiring to watch, but it was no secret that his offense struggled to get into scoring situations.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: A-
Nearly every football fan held their breath when McCoy went down, clutching his knee. And he later showed why there was so much concern: He's endlessly valuable to this team.
McCoy finished with 158 yards on 20 carries, including his 41-yard score that gave Philly a fighting chance near the end. His big day marked an Eagles franchise record, per SportsCenter:
LeSean McCoy's 395 Rush Yds are the most through 3 games in Eagles franchise history.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 20, 2013
It's hard to find a player across the entire league that fits in his team's scheme better than LeSean McCoy, and he proved that again Thursday night.
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: C+
Smith has never been a gunslinger and makes his money by being a smart game manager, but his lethargy in moving his offense along was obvious.
ESPN's Highly Questionable account said it best:
Alex Smith leads the NFL in "Meh"— Highly Questionable (@HQonESPN) September 20, 2013
Other than a few short passes that turned into long gains, the Chiefs' passing attack was nonexistent. However, Smith turned it around with some big third-down conversions on the eight-minute drive that put K.C. up two scores late. Smith did finish with decent enough numbers, accumulating 273 yards on 22-of-35 passing.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: B+
His stats don't pop off the page—20 carries, 92 yards and a score—like McCoy's, but Charles was masterful in moving the chains and helping put away the game late.
Charles proved he can be a dependable back to help unload pressure on Smith and allow him to do what he does best—manage the game. It also didn't hurt that he contributed seven receptions for 80 yards in the passing game.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: D+
Bowe was expected to be Smith's favorite target heading into the season, which made his complete disappearance from Thursday's game even more surprising. NFL.com's Michael Fabiano mused:
It sure would be nice if Dwayne Bowe caught a pass or something...— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 20, 2013
He finished with just one catch for four yards, albeit a big third-down conversion late in the fourth quarter.
Justin Houston, LB, Chiefs: A+
Justin Houston had a legendary performance for the Chiefs defense, as the linebacker amassed 3.5 sacks.
Vick was under pressure all night, and much of that came from the former University of Georgia standout.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs will look to go 4-0 when they return home to face the New York Giants on the same day.