KANSAS CITY – It came down to the wire, as everyone expected it would. After a great Josh Jobe tackle on Braden Mann’s final punt placed the Chiefs at their 9-yard line with 2 minutes, 49 seconds remaining in the game, it came down to the Eagles’ defense against Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Another Down-To-The-Wire Special, a hallmark of this 2023 Eagles season. This time, the defense won, and the Eagles left rainy GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium 21-17 winners, now 9-1 on the season. Thrilling. Amazing. Incredible.
Here are some takeaways from a heavyweight showdown between two of the league’s best teams on Monday Night Football …
1. Let’s begin by talking about that last stand. There was some good fortune involved as quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a strike to wide receiver Marquez Valdez-Scantling, who had gotten behind cornerback Bradley Roby, and Valdez-Scantling had the ball glance off his fingertips. But the Eagles played that last drive so well, highlighted by a great pass rush from Josh Sweat, who pressured Mahomes and forced him to throw the football away for an intentional grounding penalty. That set up a fourth-and-20 play and Mahomes’ final pass to wide receiver Justin Watson was broken up by Darius Slay and it … was … all … over. Kansas City gained three first downs on the drive and then the Eagles shut it down, yeah, with a bit of good luck involved. That’s the way the football bounces.
2. Kansas City’s defense won the line of scrimmage for two-plus quarters, effectively shutting down the passing game with a ferocious rush that came from everywhere. Tackle/end Chris Jones had a pair of sacks in the first half, as did cornerback Trent McDuffie. The Chiefs showed blitz and then dropped out, or they sent someone from the second and third level, or they just came after Jalen Hurts – and it worked. Other than one touchdown drive, the Eagles couldn’t get into a rhythm. Midway through the third quarter, the Eagles had just 85 total net yards of offense and were 0-for-5 on third down and, remember, the Eagles entered the game leading the NFL in third-down conversion percentage. Hurts was sacked five times in the first half. Then it all changed on a great touchdown drive to bring the Eagles to within 17-14 – moving 61 yards with D’Andre Swift providing the big play on a jet sweep carry to the left side that gained 35 yards. Two completions to DeVonta Smith picked up 14 yards. Then Hurts took a quarterback draw on third-and-5 from the 10-yard line and put the ball in the end zone and all of a sudden it was a ballgame.
3. Two offensive possessions later, the Eagles finally went vertical after a series of quick passes and screens. Hurts had some protection and threw a perfect pass down the right sideline for DeVonta Smith, who made the catch and was tackled at the 1-yard line. The Brotherly Shove followed to end the 7-play, 80-yard drive that gave the Eagles their first lead, 21-17, after Jake Elliott’s PAT. Patience, patience, patience. And give Hurts all kinds of credit because, through those first two-and-a-half quarters, the offense was unable to do much of anything (see below on the one-drive highlight). And then, success.
4. Third-and-12, 5:40 left and linebacker Zach Cunningham leaps and knocks down Mahomes’ flip pass, trying to make more magic. Cunningham, aware that Mahomes makes something out of nothing, had the knockdown. Huge. Kansas City was forced to punt and the Eagles had great field position after a 19-yard Britain Covey punt return.
5. Covey, by the way, came up big again, averaging 17.7 yards on three returns, including a 26-yarder. He’s a weapon.
6. Philadelphia’s run defense entered the game leading the NFL in fewest yards allowed per game, 66.3. But Kansas City established the line of scrimmage, used a trio of running backs, and gained 168 yards on the ground. That helped the Chiefs’ offense largely stay on schedule and helped them win on third down, converting 8-of-17 on the night. But let’s look deeper at this. The Eagles shut out the Chiefs, who led 17-7 after two quarters, in the second half.
Shut them out. Zero points.
Kansas City had just nine first downs in the second half, five on a drive that ended with the Eagles forcing and recovering a Travis Kelce fumble in the red zone (the Eagles took the ball away twice in the red zone). Kansas City gained just 32 rushing yards in the second half and the Eagles completely shut them down in the fourth quarter. Sean Desai, that’s a great job of adjustments.