Chiefs prevail despite less than best

By Steve Sell
September 19, 2017

I likened the Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday to a baseball pitcher trying to get through a game without his best stuff.

In other words, the Chiefs prevailed without their “A” game and got by with cunning and guile.

It was probably unfair of Chiefs Kingdome to expect a performance similar to that of the perfect storm that occurred in Foxboro when Kansas City did everything right in a 42-27 domination of defending Super Bowl champion New England.

The Chiefs set the bar in the stratosphere and to approach that was probably not possible.

But they were at home for the first time on Sunday and Arrowhead was on fire, with the overwhelming smell of barbecue wafting in the air. Even KC coach Andy Reid acknowledged the fans first thing in his weekly press briefing on Monday as the decibel level throughout the game was deafening. It sounded like a big jet airliner taking off at times it was that loud.

Make no mistake, the Eagles are a good team. They’re not the Browns, Jets and other teams of that ilk. With Dallas showing a lot of vulnerability against Denver on Sunday, maybe the Eagles can give America’s Team a push in the NFC East, because from what the Giants have shown so far they certainly won’t.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson was Reid’s right-hand man until last year, so he knew the Chiefs inside and out, another reason that Kansas City probably struggled somewhat.

It was a clunker of a first half as the Chiefs won the battle of field goals for a 6-3 lead, then fell behind 10-6 late in the third quarter.

It was at that point that Kareem Hunt, who up until that point was starting to look like a one-hit wonder, exploded up the middle for 53 yards. It was his fourth touchdown in two games and while his average-per-rush looked good (13 for 81, more than 6 a carry), it was inflated by his one big run. He did add 28 yards on three catches.

After the Eagles drew even, the Chiefs tagged on two touchdowns, a well-designed shovel play from Alex Smith to Travis Kelce, then Hunt made Fantasy Football owners happy with his second score of the day to give him five on the year.

The Kansas City defense bent, but didn’t break. It did give up 406 yards (to just 344 for the Chiefs) and probably would have been in trouble if not for a magnificent game by Chris Jones, who was All-World with three sacks and a pick, which is rare for a lineman. KC did have six sacks as neither offensive line did much to distinguish themselves. Neither Smith nor Philly QB Carson Wentz will survive the season if that type of protection persists.

It’s evident already the Chiefs are playing in the toughest division in football. Oakland and Denver were both dominant in moving to 2-0 as well and the Chargers, while 0-2, could easily be 2-0 if not for some kicking woes. 

KC has a definite trap game on Sunday as it plays the Chargers in LA, where they are waiting for their stadium to be built and currently play in a 27,000-seater, which is an embarrassment to the NFL. But given how little La La fans have warmed up to the Chargers or the Rams, it probably won’t be a sellout.

Kansas City is perfectly set up to be 3-0. But you know Philip Rivers won’t go down without a fight and remember when the teams met last year in the season opener, the Chargers had the Chiefs buried with a 24-3 lead, then Keenan Allen went out with an injury and KC flipped the game from there.

Sometimes a team has to gut through a game knowing it’s not at its best. That’s what the Chiefs did Sunday and lived to tell about it.