All week long, Chiefs coach Andy Reid had consistently downplayed his return to Philadelphia, the city where he mounted a strong 14-year run as head coach before his firing last December.
But once the final seconds ticked off the clock Thursday night, his Chiefs victorious 26-16, Reid ― perhaps to his own surprise ― finally allowed himself to drop his shield and take in the moment.
“It was interesting at the end,” Reid said. “That was when it all hit” me “that I was playing in Philadelphia again.”
Reid said he had a little help coming to that realization.
“I don’t know if you let your guard down or whatever, but when the players are coming up to you and you congratulate them, that’s kind of when you felt it,” Reid said.
It's safe to say that Reid also “felt it” when two of his players ― receivers Donnie Avery and Dwayne Bowe ― dumped a bucket of Gatorade over his head. And it's hard to imagine he didn't get a little choked up when he and his son Britt, who works as a quality control coach for the Chiefs, shared a moment on the field after the game.
“The last two weeks, we’ve been right next to each other when the game ended, which is amazing because he’s doing the defensive signals and I’m calling plays, so we’re on opposite ends of the field,” Reid said. “That’s a special thing there are not many chances you have to work with your son, and then to go through something like that, it was very special.”
Running back Jamaal Charles said afterward that he could tell the win meant a lot to Reid, who went 130-93-1 and led the Eagles to a Super Bowl loss and five NFC championship games during his tenure there.
Charles, however, was quick to add that he and several other veterans are grateful to have Reid.
“We've been through a lot in the six years since I've been here ... and other guys like Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali,” Charles said. “So having a change, and Andy Reid coming on as head coach,” is good. “He just lets us go out there and have fun.”
Cornerback Brandon Flowers agreed, and pointed to the way the Chiefs, 3-0, have eagerly adopted Reid's offensive and defensive schemes as proof.
“We knew we had the talent, and the wins weren't there,” Flowers said of the last couple of years, in which Chiefs went a combined 9-23. “Andy Reid and his regime came in, we bought into everything they're doing, and it's showing.”
Don't expect that to change anytime soon.
“Anything they ask us to do, we're not going to question,” Flowers said. “We'll go out there and do it and see where it takes us at the end of the year.”
In the meantime, the Chiefs were happy to help their new leader earn a measure of vindication Thursday.
“From our standpoint, I feel like we really wanted to get that for him, just how much time he put (in) over there ... and how much work he's been putting in with us,” safety Eric Berry said. “We definitely played our hearts out for him, and he coached his butt off.”