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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson

EAGLES REBOUND IN SECOND HALF, DEFEAT CHIEFS 21-17


Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said during hispost game press conference that keeping a cool head was key to the comeback win. Photo by Al Thompson

KANSAS CITY: The Philadelphia Eagles overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit, scoring 14 unanswered points, rolling out of Arrowhead Stadium with a 21-17 win over the Kansas Chiefs, and holding on to their No. 1 ranking in the league.


The Eagles offense looked lost over the first two quarters.


Hurts was 5 of 7 for just 46 yards, he was sacked five times for 26 lost yards, he threw an interception and fumbled the ball (it was recoverd).


Except for D’Andre Swift, who may have turned in his most impactful game as an Eagle, the running game was anemic, rushing three times for 11 yards.


Swift carried eight times for 47 yards and a four-yard touchdown at intermission. For the game, Swift carried the ball 12 times for 76 yards.


He also caught three passes for 31 yards.


It was a tale of two halves fort the Birds (9-1).


Eagles Pro Bowl left guard Landon Dickerson talked about what was going on in the first half and what adjustments the line made at halftime.


“Communication,” he said at his locker post game. “It was a big thing that the offensive line wasn’t doing well in the first half. And that was that was our big emphasis at halftime.


“I give props to him for coming in at halftime, making the adjustments,” Dickerson said. “Coaches same way, coming in, making all the adjustments and getting the plays called that are going to be successful.”


Eagles head coach Nick Sirianji was asked about the communication issues with his offensive line, pass protection and having his QBI on his back for most of the first half.


“There were some miscommunication things that we knew we had to get better at,” the coach said. “We were behind the sticks. There were some things we had to do as coaches to help put guys in positions to make plays. Nobody sets the table and gets everyone on the same page better than Jason Kelce.



Eagles head coach said he turned to Jason Kelce to help make adjustments with the pass protection that gave up five sacks in the first half, none in the second. Photo by Al Thompson

“Nobody I have ever been around does that. I have been around some really good guys that get everyone in position. There was some confusion. They created some confusion and [Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo] did a great job of creating confusion.


"It was just looking at some of the things they were doing and getting everyone on the same page and trying to do a better job as coaches to get them in better places to make plays.


“Jason and Jalen did a good job of getting everyone together and putting together a good second half.”


Hurts statistically did not shine. He finished 14 of 22 for 150 yards, another 29 yards on the ground including two touchdowns. The 25-year-old franchise quarterback was able to keep the team poised for a second half comeback.


"There's a there's a calm, you have to truly remain in control," Hurts said at his postgame press conference. "It should never get to high, never get too low. Obviously the standard is the standard...you want to play to a high standard all the time. But things happen. Turnovers happen. The negative plays happen, sacks happen, so you can never get too high or too low. So, I think that is just the character and identity of this team right now.


“We've got to play one game at a time, one rep at a time at practice. But there's a ton of opportunity to deploy we just have to continue to have a growth mindset. We have to continue to get better."


For sure, Chiefs All Pro, two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback is hoping his receivers can get better.


Depending on what pundit was doing the counting, Chiefs receivers dropped between five and seven passes.


None hurt more than when, trailing 21-17 Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropped a dime thrown by Mahomes from his own 49-yard line with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, that hit Valdes-Scantling, who was way out in front of nickel corner Bradley Roby, in the hands five yards from the end zone.


A lot of “stick a fork in the Chiefs” remarks were made by both teams’ fans after that play. The loss to the Eagles also marked the third consecutive game Kansas City had not scored at all in the second half. The Chiefs have only scored one touchdown all season in the fourth quarter.


Mahomes was asked how he felt about the loss.


“Simple, as we just have to get better at the second half,” said Mahomes, who finished 24 for 43 for 177 yards, two touchdown passes, one interception and a QB rating of 71.6. “I mean all season long we haven’t played great football in the second half, so we have to continue to work. “Obviously (we) had a pretty good first half running the football but (we’ve) got to find a way to finish games offensively.”


Mahones was asked if there is something consistent with the second half performances?


“Not necessarily. I mean today it was penalties and miscues,” said Mahomes, was sacked once, had five of his passes batted and was called for intentional grounding late in the fourth. “We’ve got to find ways to score at the end of the day, defense is playing great football, has been all year. Offensively we’ve got to find ways to finish football games.”


FIRST HALF TO FORGET

The game started out well enough for the Eagles, who forced a three-and-out on the first possession that included a sack by Haason Reddick.


Chiefs came back forced a three-and-out that included a sack, the first of five against the Bird.


The first was by Trent McDuffie.


Chiefs then engineered a 10–play, 80-yard drive highlighted by the Mahomes patented hand flick, this time to Justin Watson to the left for three-yard touchdown.


The Eagles responded with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended when D'Andre Swift rushed to the right for four-yard touchdown to even the score 7-7.


The Chiefs went three-and-out for the second time. But after that, it was all Chiefs until halftime.


Well, except for the interception Mahomes threw to safety Kevin Byard in the end zone. Byard showed why the Eagles traded for him, leading the team in tackles with eight (all solo) and two defended passes.


On the Eagled first drive of the second quarter Hurts threw an interception on a pass intended for A.J. Brown but landed in the hands of L’Jarius Sneed.


After Mahomes’ interception, the Eagles pass protection crumbled giving up four more sacks on the Birds next two drives.


All world fefensive tackle Chris Jones recorded two sacks one drive alone.


The Chiefs took a 14-7 lead with 1:45 left in the second half when Mahomes hit Travis Kelce with a four-yard touchdown pass. The drive went seven plays, 45 yards.


The Chiefs scoring drive was impacted by Kadarius Toney’s 21-yard punt return.

The Eagles called two timeouts to save time to hopefully pull off a drive with 1:45 seconds left in the half.


The Eagles vaunted offensive line surrendered two sacks to Trent McDuffie for 9 yard loss then George Karlaftis for no gain.


Mahomes now had 44 seconds and he capitalized on the opportunity, moving the ball six plays 21 yard to set up Harrison Butker to kick a walk-off 43-yard field goal and make the score 17-7 at the half.



Darius Slay said the secondary simply said they needed to play for each other to be effective against Mahomes and the Chiefs in the second half. Photo by Al Thompson

SECOND HALF BELONGED TO THE BIRDS

The Eagles got the ball to start the second half, but failed to move the ball really at all. Hurts was downed behind the line of scrimmage for the sixth time.


The Chiefs looked out of sync on its drive and were forced to punt.


The Eagles also failed to move the ball and were forced to punt.


The Chiefs next drive went nowhere and punted from their 32-yard line.


Britain Covey’s 26-yard return gave the Birds great field position at their own 39-yard line

The Eagles O-line looked like itself on that drive....imposing its will to make the score 14-17.


Swift's 35-yard run was a big impact on the drive that ended with a 10-yard Hurts run.

After the Eagles forced a turnover at their own ten-yard line by Travis Kelce.


Sirianni forced two bubble screen that went nowhere. In fact, the first screen to DeVonta Smith almost turned into an easy Pick-six. The three-and-out ended with an ill-fated run by Hurts.


But the Eagled defense was able to stop the Chiefs once again, forcing a punt that found its way into the end zone giving the Birds a first down at their own 20.


Again the Birds offensive line took over with 8:56 left in the fouth.


The Eagles took a 21-17 lead on a brilliant 41-yard completion to DeVonta Smith and a Tush Push TD by Hurts.


STATS AND COMMENTS

Jones finished with two sacks, five tackles (all solo), four tackles for loss and two quarterback hits,


He was asked about his level of frustration after this loss.


“I think it’s more so self-reflecting,” the All Pro said. “We can improve in a lot of different areas. Look at the red zone, the defense, we talked about it all week. Eagle formation, empty, we knew it was the quarterback draw, we got up-field and gave up the touchdown. That’s a lot of things we can improve on. A lot of good football we left out there. Self-reflecting, overall, as a group. I think this is a growing moment for us as a team. It gives us a lot to look at, it gives us a lot to look to improve and get better.”


Jones was asked if he senses the offense getting frustrated.


“I’m quite sure they’re going to pick it up,” he said. “We have a lot of young guys. Like I said, a lot of self-reflecting right now, being accountable. That goes around. We have a lot of trust in those guys, we have a lot of playmakers on this team, especially offensively. I think we’ll continue to improve throughout the year – improve this week – mental errors, whatever it may be. I think that will be the point of emphasis this week and we’ll try to get it going next week.”


Eagles corner Darius Slay recorded four solo tackles and two defended passes.


Obviously if your team shuts out the defending Super Bowl champions in the second half, there was likely a turning point.


Slay was asked if there was a point when the game turned for the Eagles.


“There were a lot of them,” he said. “We really stepped up big in the red zone. That punch out by Robe (Bradley Roby) was one of the big game changers. Both red zone turnovers were big. I think the turnovers we got in the red zone really changed the game.”


Slay was asked if there was talk during halftime to make adjustments


“Finish together. Keep playing hard,” Slay said. “Play for each other. We have been a second half team. A lot of guys have been noticing in the games, the coaches have been making great adjustments.


“We come out in the second half doing great. This time, we finished better in the two-minute situation. That’s what has been hurting us in the second half, a lot of the time. It has been those two-minute situations when guys come back in. Coming into the second half we put out good film.” *


Email Al Thompson at al.thompson@footballstories .com


Some stats from .pro-football-reference.com.


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