Beyond the off-field storylines of returns and celebrations, the Eagles offense was left with little to hand its hat on after a disappointing 26-16 loss to the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. Two early turnovers portended a night filled with poor execution, mistakes and generally sloppy play for the Eagles, and they finished with five turnovers overall (two interceptions and three lost fumbles). Facing off against a fierce Chiefs defense, Michael Vick struggled for the first time in 2013 after two games of near perfection.
From the get-go, the Eagles committed costly mistakes. A Damaris Johnson muffed punt handed the Chiefs three points before the offense ever got on the field. Then, two plays into the opening offensive drive, Vick made his first error of the night. . The quarterback made a bad read and threw the ball into double coverage on a pass intended for tight end Brent Celek. Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson undercut the route and was there for an easy interception but had the ball go off his hands. Luckily for the Chiefs, safety Eric Berry was there to catch the deflection and sprint 38 yards into the end zone. Just like that, the Eagles were in a 10-0 hole less than four minutes into the game.
"What hurts so much about that (interception returned for a touchdown) is I knew exactly what I needed to do," Vick said. "I had press coverage on one side, and I just tried to take the easy way out. If I just throw the fade on the other side, (the interception) never happens. I didn't make a good throw, I made a poor decision, (threw a) bad ball. It's something I'll learn from. I'll never second guess myself like that again … I predetermined what I was going to do and then second guessed myself. I had the right decision that I was going to make in my mind. It was the correct the decision, and I tried to do something else out of the box and it didn't work out for me."
The Eagles were their own worst enemy throughout the night, and Vick was never able to get comfortable as a passer. He broke the longest run of his career with a 61-yard scamper in the first quarter and racked up 99 yards on four carries, but he finished the night just 13-of-30 for 201 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. On the second interception, which came with just over six minutes left in the second quarter, Vick stepped up in the pocket and instead of rifling a throw, tried to a loft a pass to Riley Cooper over the middle. That allowed cornerback Sean Smith to break on the ball and step in front.
"That was just a misread," Vick said of the second interception. "I missed (Cooper). Those plays, you can't have against a good defense like this. You have to make every play count, and I totally take responsibility for what happened tonight. I was in control of the offense, but I didn't get the tempo going. I didn't move the ball the way we were supposed to move the ball, I didn't get the guys going the way I was supposed to get them going, and we just didn't execute. They were the better football team."
Vick also was under plenty of duress when he dropped back to pass and got sacked five times, as the Chiefs' ferocious pass rush gave the Eagles offensive line fits all game. Third-year outside linebacker Justin Houston, who is turning into one of the league's premier 3-4 edge rushers, led the way with 3.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, a fumble recovery and also deflected three passes for good measure. One of the major reasons the Chiefs defense was so successful in coverage was because the defensive line got considerable, consistent pressure with just a four-man rush, which enabled the safeties to play back.
"I don't think their scheme was that complicated," Vick said. "I don't think they tried to do anything outside the box. They didn't blitz, they just sat back and played the way they always played, the way we saw them play other teams on film. That was their scheme, and they did it well."
"They did a good job in coverage," Vick said. "They're a very smart defense, they knew exactly where their responsibilities were. Safeties were in Cover 3 and put themselves in position to make the plays that they were making."
Despite ripping off big chunks of yards on a handful of plays, the Eagles offense often seemed disjointed and out of rhythm. On those rare occasions it did get into a rhythm, Chiefs defenders went down with injuries that delayed the game and slowed the tempo.
"We had the (first) turnover," Vick said. "We get a score (the touchdown to Jason Avant), and then we come back with field position and have another turnover (the Jason Kelce fumbled snap). Then we're moving the ball and have another turnover. It's hard to get into a rhythm. Next thing you know, it's halftime and you have to come back out (for the second half) and you're down."
The Eagles now have some time to lick their wounds and recover both mentally and physically from an exhausting 11-day stretch in which they had to play three games. For perspective, it will be nine days until the Eagles take the field in Denver for their fourth game of the season against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. If they hope to emerge victorious, a muddled offensive performance like the one they put forth against the Chiefs will not get the job done.
"The good thing is we know exactly why we didn't play the type of game we wanted to play," Vick said. "We've got to go back to the drawing board, regroup and figure this out. I'm confident that we will, and we've got some time to do so. We've got to get ready to go to Denver."
"It all starts with us (the players) at the end of the day," Vick said. "We're the ones out there playing. If all eleven guys take care of their responsibilities, everything tends to work. We just have to hold ourselves accountable and responsible, watch the film and bounce back."
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