Whatever Andy Reid said to his team during the week between the ugly loss to New Orleans and the game against Kansas City, it worked. Oh, did it work! Depleted by injuries offensively, the Eagles went out and took care of business on Sunday, blasting the woeful Kansas City Chiefs 34-14 to head to the bye week.
Sunday was a showcase for the youth of the football team on offense, and for the blood-hungry mentality of the defense. With quarterback Donovan McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook and wide receiver Kevin Curtis out with injuries (more on that later), the Eagles turned to the Kiddie Corps to dominate a game, but overmatched, Kansas City defense.
Kolb was masterful, completing 24 of 34 for 327 yards and two touchdowns and hitting the Chiefs down the field with one big play after another. He had completions to Jackson for 43 yards, 64 yards (touchdown) and 17 yards. Tight end Brent Celek had another big game, catching 8 passes for 104 yards, including a 35-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Maclin chipped in with 4 catches.
McCoy was brilliant in place of Westbrook, dodging and darting and blasting between the tackles for 84 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. McCoy needs to tuck the football away – he tends to carry it loosely and that is a concern – but he had too much vision and quickness. McCoy took a handful of direct snaps in the shotgun and did a nice job picking holes and moving the chains, and he handled the load as the main man in the running game like he had done it before.
While the Eagles offense rolled to 267 yards and 24 points in the first half, the defense played most of the game in the Kansas City backfield. The Chiefs managed all of 75 total net yards in the first two quarters, were held without a third-down conversion and managed just 18 rushing yards. Sean McDermott dialed up the blitzes and the Eagles peppered quarterback Matt Cassel all game.
It was, by standards of games we have seen all too often in the pre-bye week past, a yawner. It was a convincing victory. What was supposed to be a game to learn more about how Michael Vick would fit into the offense – more on him in a moment – turned into a very business-like and needed effort by a banged-up Eagles team that welcomes the week off.
Kolb and the offense went three-and-out to start the game then soared off for the rest of the first half. A 48-yard drive that took eight plays opened the floodgates and they didn't close until the Eagles led 24-7 at the half. A pass to Maclin gained 4 yards. Then a third-and-6 throw went to Jason Avant for 10 yards and a first down at the Kansas City 34-yard line.
Then it was McCoy's show, with some Wild Eagle mixed in. Vick took the snap in shotgun from the 34 and rolled right on an option and kept the football to gain 7 yards to the edge. Then McCoy took a direct snap out of the shotgun formation and gained 8 yards to the 19-yard line. McCoy made his best run of the game on the next snap, starting left, ducking in traffic and cutting right to gain 14 yards to the 5-yard line.
After Vick threw incomplete for Leonard Weaver in the end zone, McCoy took another direct snap from the shotgun and danced his way up the middle for 5 yards and a touchdown.
Just like that, the Eagles had control of the game.
The defense held Kansas City on a three-and-out series and the Eagles went right down the field. A pass to Jackson gained 10 yards. Then a throw for Jackson down the middle gained 43 yards and the Eagles were at the Kansas City 20-yard line. Vick handed off to McCoy in the shotgun and the second-round draft pick ran for 11 yards to the Chiefs 9-yard line. Kolb to Celek gained 8 yards and two plays later Kolb plunged into the end zone and the Eagles were ahead, 14-0.
Kansas City came back with a touchdown drive and then it was the 64-yard Kolb-to-Jackson touchdown connection that made the score 21-7 and sent the Chiefs packing.
Really, it was one of those matter-of-fact wins that leaves a smile on everyone's face with the bye week here. The Eagles need the rest. McNabb, you would think should be back for Tampa Bay in two weeks. Westbrook, too, after resting his sprained ankle. Curtis has a knee injury begging for some rest.
Kansas City isn't a very good team and, in fact, the Chiefs' offense is downright terrible. Without wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who missed the game with a hamstring injury, the Chiefs had almost no weapons down the field. The Eagles stacked the line of scrimmage and went after Cassel and the running game and dominated.
On this day, the youth really shined. Kolb looked poise and precise running an offense that didn't commit a penalty or allow a sack or turn the ball over until Jeff Garcia came in late in the fourth quarter and fumbled his first snap. Jackson was a game-breaking receiver, again. Maclin was reliable and got open. McCoy ran hard and protected the football.
The implementation of Vick worked nicely, although it wasn't spectacular. Vick ran a little, threw the ball a couple of times and sometimes simply came in and handed the ball off. He played a dozen or so snaps and looked like he had his speed. He did a good job.
Heck, everyone did. Kansas City didn't stop the Eagles much at all. When the offense stalled, as it did for too much of the second half, the Eagles stopped themselves.
Now they are 2-1 and while the Eagles have flaws, and they have many things to improve, they are going into the bye week with some momentum.
The Eagles took a peek into the future on Sunday and had to like what they saw. At the same time, the young men grew up to give the Eagles a much-needed victory.