The Eagles played rather well against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but lost 27-20 to former head coach Andy Reid, falling to 1-1 on the season. As with any loss, there’s blame to go around, but in a game in which the defense played without two members of the secondary for most of the contest — Rodney McLeod and Jaylen Watkins both went out in the first half with hamstring injuries — the defense played as well as could be expected against an offense that lit up the defending Super Bowl champs last week.
The issue for the Eagles was the offense. While the defense played well for most of the game, the offense mustered only three points in the first half, and just 10 through three quarters. Newly signed kicker Jake Elliott did have a chance to tie the game at 6-6 at the end of the first half, but missed a chip-shot field goal which did have the Birds chasing the scoreboard the rest of the game. Was that the play that decided the game?
Was it the utter lack of a run game, with 13 run plays and none to LeGarrette Blount?
Was Isaac Seumalo’s horrific play at guard, largely contributing to the six sacks the Eagles gave up to the Chiefs, the reason they lost?
Carson Wentz has been sacked six times today. That’s a career high. #Eagles
— Aaron Kasinitz (@AaronKazreports) September 17, 2017
It didn’t help, but not one of those sacks on its own was the play that did the Eagles in.
T. Smith in that tweet above is Torrey Smith, who dropped a few passes, including an early touchdown. Smith ended the game with four catches for 66 yards, but this early moment was not a highlight he’d like to remember.
Feel like this should have been a catch. pic.twitter.com/3Auniv5bZX
— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) September 17, 2017
While Smith and Seumalo were both reasons why the offense was unable to put points on the board much of the game, neither caught the same level of online ire Vinny Curry got for one play. The defense had four sacks on Alex Smith, routinely getting in his face all game. But it was the one sack they missed — namely, Curry missed — that may have cost the Eagles a chance to win.
Fans were not pleased, to say the least.
Was Curry’s whiff on Smith the reason the Eagles lost? Well, that play came on 3rd-and-4 at the Eagles 25 yard line with the game tied at 13. A stop would have forced a long field goal. Instead, after the first down, Smith found Travis Kelce on back-to-back plays for a go-ahead touchdown and the Chiefs never looked back.
But that’s not the play that cost the Eagles the game, because the Chiefs never should have had the ball on that drive.
“It appeared to me that it hit a helmet,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said when asked about Carson Wentz’s fourth quarter interception. “Looked like it hit a helmet and just popped straight up. Those situations there, you know, are critical times in the game. You can’t make those mistakes.”
The Chiefs got 10 points off the Eagles’ two turnovers — Darren Sproles fumbled on a punt return that led to a field goal earlier in the game. Sure, Wentz threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 55 yards and extended a number of drives with his legs, so one can make the case the Eagles aren’t even in the game at that point if Wentz didn’t play as well as he had. But the second-year signal caller had a fumble the Eagles recovered and the interception they obviously didn’t, so for all the good he did, the play that changed the game was, well, ‘doink.’
“It was a screen play. Obviously it was a bad throw and it got tipped around and they made the play,” Wentz said when asked about the pass after the game. “Sproles was in that vicinity. I think he was falling over so I was more or less just trying to throw it away.”
“Obviously any time a ball gets tipped around it’s bad luck but obviously I’d rather not throw it into a d-lineman’s helmet.”
Take another look from the sideline angle above. It looks like Wentz looked left to freeze the defense, and by the time he looked back to the right he didn’t have time to react to Sproles tripping over Jason Kelce’s foot. So not only was it bad luck, the pass was terrible, as was the decision to throw it. Yes, it was 3rd-and-12, but if Wentz is going to throw the ball away anyway, why not take the sack and punt the ball? Wentz’s interception ended up costing the Eagles more than 40 yards of possible field position, because he was concerned about saving 10. Or because he was already throwing the ball when he spotted Sproles falling and he panicked and…doink.
Hitting defenders with the ball wasn’t just a problem on this play, but that’s the one that did the Eagles in.
The Chiefs took over possession at the Eagles’ 31 yard line, scoring the touchdown to Kelce five plays later. After an Eagles three-and-out in which Wentz was sacked and threw two incomplete passes, they opted to punt with just five minutes left in the game. Six plays later, the Chiefs scored again. Game over.
Wentz did lead the team down on a last-minute drive, capped by a touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor, and when the ensuing onside kick was recovered there was a chance at life. But the Hail Mary went unanswered and Big Red — the coach, not the Eagles’ tall ginger quarterback — got another win against his former team.