Chiefs coach Andy Reid insisted his return to Philadelphia — where he coached for 14 years — was not about him.
He was wrong. His team, determined to make him a winner, rose to the occasion and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 26-16 on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field in a performance that was ragged but resourceful.
The Chiefs, in raising their record to 3-0, scored just one offensive touchdown for the second straight week. But they got four field goals from Ryan Succop, five turnovers from their opportunistic defense, including a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Eric Berry and 3 1/2 sacks from outside linebacker Justin Houston.
Reid always talks about being “all-in.” His players were all-in for him in front of 69,144 who welcomed back Reid, as well as a national television audience.
“He needed to get this win,” said running back Jamaal Charles, who came alive rushing for 73 of his 92 yards in the fourth quarter. “He might not tell anybody, but he had the biggest smile on his face.”
The Eagles fell to 1-2 in losing their eighth straight at home, dating to last year under Reid, who was replaced by former Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
The Chiefs never trailed in the game, but appeared to be in jeopardy after the Eagles drew to within 23-16 on a 41-yard run by Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy with 11 minutes, 36 seconds left.
Especially after Dexter McCluster muffed the ensuing kickoff at the Chiefs’ 2 and was smothered at the 5.
At that point, a Chiefs offense that was stagnant for three quarters came alive.
Quarterback Alex Smith took his team on a 15-play, 75-yard march that ate up 8 minutes and 15 seconds before Succop nailed a 38-yard field goal with 3:21 to play.
Smith completed his first five passes on the drive for 40 yards, and converted two third downs.
The Eagles came into the game averaging 31.5 points per game with the NFL’s second-most prolific offense, but Houston led a defense that harassed Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick into two interceptions and five sacks.
“A couple of the sacks we got came because of the coverage,” said Houston, who now has 6 1/2 sacks for the season.
Cornerback Sean Smith, who had an interception and helped run the Chiefs’ turnover margin to plus-nine this season, said, “Vick was running for his life.”
The Eagles, who had been their worst enemies all night with four first-half turnovers, trailed 23-9 early in the fourth quarter. Vick bolted for 32 yards; connected with Jason Avant, who made a juggling 20-yard catch; and McCoy sprinted 41 yards for a touchdown, making it 23-16 with 11:36 to play.
The Chiefs, with Alex Smith completing four of four passes, including a key 23-yarder to Donnie Avery, scored their first offensive touchdown of the night on a 3-yard run by Charles that gave them a 23-9 lead with 12:57 to play. Charles had been bottled up for much of the night but ripped off runs of 7 and 18 yards before going in for the score.
The Eagles made it 16-9 with a 29-yard field goal by Alex Henery midway through the third quarter. Henery had a chance to narrow the margin but missed a 48-yard field goal with 2:42 left in the third quarter.
The Chiefs were the beneficiaries of four Philadelphia turnovers in the first half but led just 16-6 at halftime on three Ryan Succop field goals and an interception return for a touchdown by safety Eric Berry.
Former Eagle Quintin Demps returned the opening kickoff 57 yards to the Philadelphia 48, but the Chiefs managed just three yards of offense as quarterback Alex Smith misfired on both of his pass attempts.
The Chiefs took advantage of more shoddy special teams play by the Eagles when Philadelphia’s Demaris Johnson muffed Dustin Colquitt’s punt, and Cyrus Gray pounced on it at the Eagles’ 8. Three offensive plays lost seven yards, and Ryan Succop gave the Chiefs a 3-0 lead with a 33-yard field goal with 12:08 to play in the first quarter.
On Philadelphia’s third play from scrimmage, linebacker Derek Johnson batted Vick’s pass, intended for tight end Brent Celek, in the air and into the hands of Berry, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Chiefs a 10-0 lead in a span of 56 seconds despite not picking up a first down.
Vick struck back by blazing 61 yards on the option to the Chiefs’ 26, leaving defenders grasping for his shoes. Two plays later, Vick hit wide receiver Jason Avant, who had nickel back Husain Abdullah beat, in the corner of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles, using a swinging-gate play, went for a two-point conversion, and Zack Ertz was stopped short, leaving the score at 10-6.
The Chiefs came up with one big offensive play in the first half on a short pass from Smith to Donnie Avery. On a third down from the Chiefs’ 23, Smith hit Avery on a five-yard pattern, and he made safety Patrick Chung miss at the 40, and ran 51 yards to the Philadelphia 26 for the Chiefs’ longest play of the season.
After rookie Knile Davis ran for 12 yards and then 1 yard in place of Charles, the drive bogged down and Succop hit a 31-yard field goal for a 13-6 lead with 8:21 left in the half.
Cornerback Sean Smith intercepted Vick’s pass intended for Riley Cooper at the Chiefs’ 43 with 6:17 left in the half, and the Philly faithful began booing the Eagles. A 26-yard catch and run from Smith to Avery and 21-yard completion to Charles moved the ball to the Philadelphia 23.
But again, the Chiefs, who had been five-for-five in the scoring zone in their first two games, stalled, and Succop made a 34-yard field goal with 2:26 left in the half.