Justin Houston: 'I feel good but got a lot of improvement to do'
The key plays, stats and grades from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Player of the game: Outside linebacker Justin Houston was outstanding, racking up five tackles, two quarterback hits, a sack and a pass deflection. The deflection directly resulted in a fourth-quarter interception by Chris Jones, which led to the go-ahead score. Houston also excelled at setting the edge, and was terrific against the run. An elite performance.
Reason to hope: If the Chiefs can continue to rush the quarterback this way –– they piled up six sacks –– this could prove to be a championship-level defense, even without star safety Eric Berry, who is out for the season because of an Achilles injury.
Reason to mope: Center Mitch Morse left the game because of a left foot injury, and was spotted leaving the locker room with crutches and a boot on the foot. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Morse has a foot sprain.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs, 2-0, now take to the road to face the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center –– capacity 27,000 –– for the first time ever. Los Angeles opened its season with a 24-21 loss to Denver, and fell to Miami 19-17. At 0-2, this is a competitive team that will be hungry for a win.
Rushing offense: The Eagles ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing defense (64.0) entering the game, and the Chiefs ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in 19 carries. Kareem Hunt was great, rushing 13 times for 81 yards –– a 6.2-yard average –– and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith chipped in with 21 yards in four carries. Not a bad day’s work.
Passing offense: The Eagles ranked 15th in the NFL in passing defense (200.0) entering the game, but they feature one of the league’s best —– and most aggressive –– defensive lines. They got home plenty, sacking Smith four times, but the Chiefs’ quarterback still had a solid day, completing 21 of 28 passes for 251 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Tight end Travis Kelce also had a big day, catching eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Rushing defense: The Eagles ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing offense at 58.0 yards per game entering the contest. They had a nice day on the ground, rushing 17 times for 107 yards –– a sterling average of 6.3 yards per carry. That’s a very high number, but a lot of that is due to the rare rushing ability of quarterback Carson Wentz, who gashed the Chiefs for 55 yards in four scrambles. The Eagles’ running backs only had 52 yards in 13 carries, an okay 4.0 yards per carry. The Chiefs did enough here to get the job done.
Passing defense: The Eagles ranked fifth in the NFL in passing offense (298 yards per game) entering the contest, and Wentz had a decent day, completing 25 of 46 passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (which came off a tipped pass). Wentz was also sacked six times, thanks to the Chiefs’ furious pass rush. The defense’s play down the stretch was solid save for the Eagles’ penultimate drive, which resulted in a touchdown.
Special teams: Kicker Cairo Santos was 2 for 2 on field-goal attempts and made all his extra points, and Dustin Colquitt dropped two of five punts inside the 20. Long snapper James Winchester forced a fumble in the second quarter that led to a Chiefs field goal, but a low point came in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs’ return unit failed to retrieve an onside kick that gave Philadelphia one last gasp. The Eagles’ ensuing Hail Mary attempt failed, but still …
Coaching: It’s always compelling in the NFL when the teacher faces the pupil, and the showdown between Andy Reid’s and Doug Pederson’s teams did not disappoint. This one was close the whole way, with the Chiefs pulling away in the second half thanks to a smothering defense and some well-timed calls on offense. The creativity on offense, at least to the naked eye, did not match what observers saw a week ago in New England, but it was good enough to get the win.