The Chiefs Win Another One
By Eric Paolini
Did somebody forget to tell the Kansas City Chiefs that you’re supposed to be sloppy when playing in the Thursday night game? In an ideal world, one that wished to make sure every NFL game was as entertaining as possible, these Thursday night games would not exist. The short week minimizes the game-planning the coaching staffs can do, limits practice, recovery and preparation time for the players, which usually leads to turnover-laden games. And this Thursday night game was no exception.
Throughout the first half, Kansas City took every Philadelphia mistake and turned it into a field goal, which was quite a frequent occurrence. Before the Eagles offense could ever take the field, Philadelphia return man Damaris Johnson muffed the punt, and the Chiefs recovered. After three plays for minus-5 yards, Ryan Succop kicked a 33-yard field goal. On the Eagles’ third play from scrimmage, Michael Vick forced a pass to a tightly covered Brent Celek. The pass was tipped, picked off, and returned 38 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles were able to follow with two possessions that did not feature a turnover, even getting into the end zone once. However, a bad snap late in the first quarter gave the ball to Kansas City once again. The Chiefs turned that fumble into a field goal as well. Kansas City also scored a field goal after Vick’s second interception.
For the third straight game, the Chiefs did not turn the ball over. Their offense kept coming up short for most of the game. Besides Eric Berry returning an interception for a touchdown, the offense produced only field goals until the fourth quarter. The biggest issue facing the Chiefs offense was the offensive line’s struggles. Jeff Allen left the game in the first quarter and eventually returned only to leave the game for good in the second half with a hamstring injury. Even more problematic was Eric Fisher at right tackle. The Eagles were able to sack Alex Smith five times and added six more quarterback hits. Smith looked uncomfortable in the pocket, especially in the first half.
Once again, the Chiefs milked the clock in the fourth quarter. Getting the ball with 11:36 remaining, Kansas City moved 73 yards on 15 plays and took an important 8:15 off the clock. The drive resulted in a field goal, pushing the lead to 10 points. That left the struggling Eagles’ offense limited time to get back into the game, which Philadelphia never did. The Eagles’ comeback hopes were officially dashed when Vick turned the ball over for the fourth time (the Eagles had five giveaways as a team) with 1:37 to go.
The combination of Jamaal Charles and Donnie Avery tore up the Eagles’ defense, which just didn't have any answers. Charles picked up 92 yards (and a touchdown) on the ground plus 80 more (on seven receptions) in the air. Once again, he led the Chiefs in targets, although just barely because Avery’s breakout game. Avery caught all seven of the passes thrown his way, picking up 141 yards. Most impressive was his ability to pick up a first down on third-and-long. By my count, it occurred three times.
The Chiefs’ defense was somewhat impressive, specifically the pass rush. Philadelphia did have success running the ball, mostly thanks to a 61-yard Vick scamper and a 41-yard LeSean McCoy touchdown dash. When Vick could complete a pass, the Eagles would pick up decent yardage. (201 yards on 13 completions). But his 17 incompletions were Philly’s main problem – that and having to contend with the Chiefs’ pass rush. Justin Houston picked up 4.5 of Kansas City’s six sacks. His performance could help him win AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors again. Both offensive lines struggled in this game.
The Chiefs now find themselves at 3-0 and looking good, Especially after a 26-16 victory over a decent Eagles team. The offense showed hints of big-play ability (Avery’s 51-yard reception). The Chiefs may have submitted their best performance of the season -- on Thursday night no less.