Chiefs wake up in second half to beat Eagles
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs needed time to wake up from their dreamy Week 1 win as two second-half touchdowns from running back Kareem Hunt helped the Chiefs pull away with a 27-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Our offense started slow,” Hunt said about the team’s second-half rally. “We came in (the locker room), we had to fix some things. Everybody took pride in what they did and we just played hard.”
Hunt broke free for a 53-yard touchdown run with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter to give the Chiefs a 13-10 lead.
The Eagles tied the game with 11:57 left in the fourth quarter thanks to a 40-yard field goal from rookie Jake Elliott, who was signed off Cincinnati’s practice squad this past week after Caleb Sturgis was placed on injured reserve.
Kansas City responded, taking the lead for good with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to tight end Travis Kelce. That put the Chiefs up 20-13.
Kelce said the team regrouped at halftime and took a more aggressive attitude into the second half.
“The mentality of the entire team came together there and told everyone to kind of man up,” Kelce said. “Everyone started to do their job and we got some momentum going and from there it is just guys making plays.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Hunt struck again by punching the ball in with a 2-yard score. He finished the game with 81 yards rushing on 13 carries, and added 28 yards receiving on three catches.
Hunt celebrated his touchdown by laying in the end zone, mimicking taking a nap using the football as a pillow.
“Stop sleeping on me,” Hunt said. “That’s what I want to let everybody know, and pretty much that’s what I like doing, scoring touchdowns.”
While the Chiefs found their groove on the ground late in the game, the Eagles struggled to find a rhythm. Quarterback Carson Wentz led the team in rushing with 55 yards on four scrambles. Darren Sproles rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries. LeGarrette Blount did not get a carry in the game, catching one pass for no gain.
Head coach Doug Pederson emphasized the need for his team to improve the run offense.
“We just got to get the whole thing fixed,” Pederson said. “When you play good teams like we did, good defenses, you have to have the ability to run the ball. This is two weeks in a row in which we struggled.”
Blount did not fault the game plan that took him out of the game.
“I can’t argue with how the game is going, the flow of the game,” Blount said. “You’ve just got to ride the wave and whenever your number is called, it’s called.”
The Eagles’ defense set the tone early, dominating the Chiefs’ offensive line in the first half. Smith took a series of hits late in the first half, prompting a timeout for trainers to check his condition.
“All week I was preparing for it,” Smith said of the Eagles’ defensive line. “They’re a really good D-line. They’re going to hit you. They bring pressure even with just those four guys.”
The Kansas City defense, however, responded in the second half, repeatedly putting pressure on Wentz. The Chiefs finished with six sacks, including three by defensive lineman Chris Jones, who also intercepted a pass.
“It was a team interception,” Jones said. “If it wasn’t for (linebacker Justin) Houston batting the ball, I wouldn’t have caught the interception. If it wasn’t for (defensive tackle) Bennie Logan pushing the pocket and Houston stepping in the right area, he wouldn’t have tipped it.”
The Eagles scored a late touchdown with Wentz connecting on a 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nelson Agholor with 8 seconds remaining in the game. The Eagles recovered the onside kick following the touchdown at the Kansas City 39, but Wentz’s pass to the end zone fell incomplete.
The Chiefs took a 6-3 lead at the half following an Eagles turnover. Long snapper James Winchester stripped the ball away from punt returner Sproles, and fullback Anthony Sherman made the recovery at the Eagles 24. Cairo Santos connected on 39-yard field goal.
Philadelphia nearly responded due to an improbable reception by tight end Zach Ertz. Wentz scrambled out of the pocket and fired a deep pass out of reach for Ertz. Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell made a grab for the interception, but the ball bounced off his hands. Ertz caught the ball off the deflection and picked up 53 yards to the Chiefs 11.
However, Elliott missed a 30-yard field goal to end the half.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said turnovers and too many third-down conversions doomed his team.
“We’re not bad, we just have to not beat ourselves,” Graham said. “You have to finish the game.”
Philadelphia took the lead on their second possession of the third quarter with a seven-play, 81-yard drive. Wentz capped it off with a 16-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery. Officials initially ruled Jeffery down at the 1-yard line. A replay challenge by the Eagles reversed the call to a touchdown.
NOTES: Chiefs DL Chris Jones briefly left the game following a collision with teammate Ramik Wilson, but still collected three sacks and an interception on the day. ... Eagles RB Darren Sproles fumbled just one time last season in 164 touches. ... The Eagles’ thin secondary took two more losses during the game with safeties Rodney McLeod and Jaylen Waktins exiting the game with hamstring injuries. ... Chiefs C Mitch Morse left the game in the fourth quarter with a foot injury. ... Chiefs TE Travis Kelce topped the 100-yard mark for the sixth time in his last eight regular-season games with eight catches for 103 yards.