With former head coach Andy Reid patrolling the visiting sidelines and a rousing ceremony retiring Donovan McNabb's jersey No. 5 at halftime, Eagles fans were in a party mood. Five giveaways, a handful of special teams gaffes and the defense's inability take the football away or get off the field in the fourth quarter soured the festivities.
After two games of outstanding decision making and zero interceptions thrown, quarterback Michael Vick was shaky with a pair of interceptions, one that safety Eric Berry caught off of a deflection and returned 38 yards for a touchdown. Vick wasn't helped by an offensive line that allowed too much pressure from an attacking Kansas City defense.
The special teams allowed big kickoff returns and lost the field position war, Alex Henery missed a 48-yard field goal attempt, and a first-quarter attempt at a two-point conversion was snuffed out.
The Eagles are now 1-2 and they've lost eight straight games at Lincoln Financial Field since the September 30, 2012 win over the Giants, the night Brian Dawkins had his number 20 retired.
"You can't lose the turnover battle. If you lose the turnover battle, you're going to lose the football game," said head coach Chip Kelly. "We've got to do a better job on the offensive side of the ball executing."
It was tough from the start. Quintin Demps returned the opening kickoff 57 yards into Eagles territory, and after a defensive hold, Damaris Johnson fumbled a fair catch on a punt and Kansas City recovered at the Philadelphia 8-yard line. The defense did a nice job holding Kansas City to a field goal, but Vick's pass on third down on the ensuing drive intended for Brent Celek was tipped by linebacker Derrick Johnson into the hands of safety Eric Berry, who made the catch and returned the interception 38 yards for a touchdown and, bam, the Chiefs led 10-0.
"I didn't make a good throw, poor decision," said Vick. "I was in control of the offense and I didn't get the tempo going and I didn't get the offense going the way I needed to get it going."
From there, the Eagles tried to catch up. And they had some promising moments – a Vick 61-yard run, a gorgeous touchdown pass to Jason Avant with pressure in Vick's chest, a 40-yard completion to DeSean Jackson and a 41-yard touchdown run by the marvelous LeSean McCoy.
But an offense that burst out of the gates against Washington and then moved up and down the field against San Diego couldn't sustain much at all against a Chiefs defense that kept an eye on Vick's running, mixed up its pressure at the line of scrimmage and did not allow Jackson to get down the field other than the single reception.
McCoy was brilliant with 158 rushing yards, dancing through traffic and creating positive plays, and Avant had 87 yards in receptions, but Kansas City certainly won this battle. Sixteen points from an offense that the entire league was fixated on just 10 days prior? Almost unthinkable. But the turnovers -- four from the offense -- and five offensive penalties, along with poor execution doomed the Eagles. "Our offense is not executing right now," said Kelly. "We call them self-inflicted wounds, and we've got way too many of them to be a successful football team."
Kelly thought the Eagles lost at the line of scrimmage, mainly the one-on-one battles, and that's a disappointing thought considering how good the Eagles expect their offensive line to play. He refused to blame the short week, or the three-games-in-11-days schedule, and the head coach was honest and clearly disappointed in his post-game press conference. He praised the effort from the defense and lamented the execution just about everywhere else.
But clearly Kelly knows he has a lot of work to do with three road games ahead, starting next Sunday in Denver. The offense is out of sync. The defense, while it is playing hard and doing a decent job in the red zone, is having trouble getting off the field.
And Vick? He needs time to throw the football, as every quarterback does. He didn't play well on Thursday night, but he didn't get enough help, either. After two games without an interception, Vick – who completed just 13 of 30 passes -- was not at his best.
The Eagles don't practice again until Tuesday. Between now and then, the coaching staff will analyze everything and try to find a way to make corrections in time to beat the Broncos. Kelly wasn't in the excuse-making business after Thursday's loss, and he understands the reality: Whatever happened between the first half against Washington and now to knock the offense -- and the entire team -- off track has to get fixed.
"We've got to go back to the drawing board. We have to take care of our business with turnovers first," said Vick. "We have to start faster and we have to score more points. We can't leave any stone unturned."
The defense? Vinny Curry was active and had a quarterback sack and was active rushing quarterback Alex Smith. Philadelphia piled up five sacks. Nate Allen had his best game. But wide receiver Donnie Avery killed the Eagles with 7 catches for 141 yards and he converted third downs of 19 yards, 15 yards and 10 yards.
With all of the problems through three quarters, the Eagles were only a touchdown away after McCoy's 41-yard touchdown sprint. And the kickoff team pinned Demps down at the 5-yard line, giving the defense a chance to turn the game around.
But Kansas City used up more than 8 minutes of clock to get into field goal range and Ryan Succop booted a 38-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 10-point lead with just over three minutes remaining on the clock.
The Eagles have a hole from which to dig now, and Kelly has a challenge ahead. At 1-2, this is an early season crossroads. Every team faces them.
"We have to collectively play better football," said Avant. "It's everyone and every part of our game. We have to get back to doing what we did in Washington and play better football as a team."