Chiefs’ defense provides the edge in 27-20 win over Eagles
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs followed their offensive-minded upset of the New England Patriots by leaning on their stout, opportunistic defense to upend the Philadelphia Eagles.
Two wins. Two vastly different ways to achieve them.
“No two games are alike in this league,” said Alex Smith, who threw for 251 yards and a touchdown in their 27-20 victory on Sunday. “You have to find ways to make adjustments.”
Six sacks and two interceptions is a good place to start.
The Chiefs (2-0) simply outscored the Patriots in their season opener last week, but they needed three sacks and a pick from defensive tackle Chris Jones, solid play in a secondary missing star safety Eric Berry, and some big plays down the stretch to keep the Eagles (1-1) at bay.
Travis Kelce had eight catches for 103 yards and a somersaulting go-ahead touchdown grab with 6:25 left in the game. Rookie Kareem Hunt followed his record-setting debut by running for 81 yards and two scores, the second of them giving Kansas City a 27-13 lead and seemingly putting the game away.
But Carson Wentz hit Nelson Agholor for an answering score with 14 seconds left, and Trey Burton jumped on the onside kick a few seconds later to give the Eagles one last throw to the end zone.
The Chiefs’ defense stood tall once more: Wentz unloaded from just inside the 50-yard line, but his pass bounced off the hands of a couple defenders and fell incomplete as time expired.
“The takeaway is you’re right there, a team that lit the scoreboard up in Week 1 in New England,'” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “But we got to get the run game fixed. It’s a team effort. However the game plays out, we try to find a way to win at the end and mistakes obviously cost us today.”
Wentz finished with 333 yards and two touchdowns passing, despite facing relentless pressure all afternoon. The spunky quarterback also led the Eagles with 55 yards rushing.
“He’s going to be one of the great ones in the league,” Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston said. “He’s very mobile, very calm in the pocket. It’s tough to rush a guy like that that’s real mobile in the pocket, that can spin moves and get out, get out of trouble.”
The Chiefs led 6-3 at halftime, and it was still 13-13 in the fourth quarter when Wentz threw a pass that bounced off Houston and into the arms of Chris Jones. The pick gave Kansas City the ball deep in Eagles territory, and Kelce hurdled into the end zone five plays later.
It was sweet atonement for the talented but troublemaking tight end, who earlier in the half got an earful from coach Andy Reid when he picked up a 15-yard penalty for taunting.
“You can’t do that. Got to be smarter,” Reid said when faced with three questions about Kelce’s antics. “He’s got to learn. He did come back with a good play.”
INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE: Both offenses struggled much of the game, and for good reason. Pederson was Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City for several years, and the two coaches run similar versions of the West Coast offense. That means they both knew what to expect. “We got a feel for what they were doing and our front seven got after them,” Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen said.
JONES-ING: Jones had his big game despite leaving briefly in the second half and getting his eye checked. “The crown on my helmet hit me in my eye,” the Chiefs’ gregarious defensive tackle said. “I was sweating in it and it fell down and hit me in my eye, gave me a little stinger.”
GETTING COMFY: After struggling last week against Washington, Alshon Jeffery appeared to get on the same page with Wentz at Arrowhead Stadium. He finished with seven catches for 92 yards and a score.
SACK ATTACK: Philadelphia had four sacks for the second straight game. Fletcher Cox had one to give him 30 1/2 for his career, the fourth most by an Eagles interior defensive lineman.
ERTZ-WHILE: Eagles tight end Zach Ertz had five catches for 97 yards, including a 53-yard catch late in the first half that ricocheted off the Chiefs’ Terrance Mitchell. That play appeared to have set up a chip-shot field goal, but Jake Elliott’s attempt missed as the half expired .
CLIPPED WINGS: The Eagles’ ailing secondary lost two more players when starting safety Rodney McLeod and backup cornerback Jaylen Watkins left with hamstring injuries in the first half. Philadelphia was already without starting cornerback Ronald Darby because of a dislocated ankle.
MORE INJURIES: Chiefs center Mitch Morse left late in the game with a sprained foot. “Center in this offense makes a ton of calls,” Smith said. “It’s a big adjustment when he goes out.”
NAMING RIGHTS: The Chiefs renamed the TV booths at Arrowhead Stadium in honor of Len Dawson, their Hall of Fame quarterback and broadcaster. He is retiring from doing radio analysis after the season.
Eagles: home opener vs. Giants.
Chiefs: at Los Angeles Chargers.