Marquez Valdes-Scantling turned on his jets, passed Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Bradley Roby for a several-yard separation and extended his arms.
With less than two minutes left, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a 45-yard pass into both hands from Valdes-Scantling. Then the pass ricocheted off his fingers, Valdes-Scantling stumbling less than five yards from the end zone as he missed both the ball and the Chiefs’ final close chance at a victory.
One penalty and an incompletion later, the Chiefs accepted their 21-17 loss to the Eagles team they had beaten nine months earlier in the Super Bowl.
That is, if you view the resounding smack of a helmet against the tunnel walls as a sign of acceptance.
Mahomes knew the fall would haunt Valdes-Scantling. The quarterback insisted he could have thrown a less demanding pass, adding that Valdes-Scantling’s drop alone was not the key to the Chiefs’ third loss this year.
“We faced one of the best, if not THE best, the NFC team and us were so close,” Mahomes said after a 24-for-43, 177-yard night with two touchdowns and an interception. “In the NFL, if you don’t make those big plays in the big moments, in the red zone and in those two-minute drills, then you lose. This is what we did today.
“Start with me. I need to make better throws at times, continue to move the ball down the field and just be more consistent throughout the game.
Mahomes’ humility aside, the Chiefs’ latest loss exposed their Achilles heel to the NFL world on national television. The Eagles, meanwhile, reminded the league that they win the same way the Chiefs lose.
And they could use this recipe to achieve the victory they want most, in February.
Mahomes says he has ‘no regrets’ about Valdes-Scantling dropped pass
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni didn’t wait for a question about his defense’s performance.
Holding the defending Super Bowl champions scoreless after halftime?
“I know you didn’t ask about defense, but I’m going to talk about defense,” Sirianni told reporters midway through his postgame news conference. “I can’t say enough about the job our defensive staff and defensive players have done.”
Sirianni was right: The Eagles’ two-game performance, with no points allowed after halftime, showcased their savvy front office (hello, Kevin Byard, the trade), impressive first-year defensive coordinator Sean Desai (even Mahomes knew the Eagles intentionally pushed him to make throws to less reliable targets) and execution to all three levels of the defense.
But frankly: Valdes-Scantling’s downfall and the offensive woes that doomed the Chiefs on Monday say a lot more about Kansas City than Philadelphia.
It was the third straight game Kansas City failed to score after halftime.
Chiefs pass catchers now lead the league in declines, with 26, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Of course, Mahomes can and will take responsibility for perceived areas where he could improve his accuracy and communication. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid dismissed the idea that his players were not on the same page, instead stating that “they are on the same page, but we were maybe -be on the same wavelength “.
That tick has cost the Chiefs games in which their defense played well enough to win (think: five sacks of Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in the first half alone on Monday). Mahomes may say he’ll “keep shooting,” but to make the jump to the NFL, you need two competent teams. Too often lately, Chiefs games have had just one.
“I have no regrets,” Mahomes said of trusting Valdes-Scantling for the game at stake. “They teamed up with Travis (Kelce), so I went to the guy who won on the field, and Marquez won on the field. We just didn’t come away with the ball (so we) had to keep trying to get better and better.
“Defense keeps us in games. If we can find a way to get a little better on offense, we’ll win a lot of these games.
The Eagles, with this formula, already are.
The Eagles’ ‘gritty, grimy and nasty’ reason to believe another playoff run is looming
No, Sirianni emphasized throughout last week and again Monday night, the Eagles did not view this as a revenge game.
“We weren’t thinking, ‘Hey, we were coming here to avenge a loss,’ because they’re different,” Sirianni said. “It’s a different scale of play. (The Super Bowl) was for everything.
But the Eagles celebrated surviving a talented, winning team amid a noisy road environment and soggy weather conditions.
“Whoever was going to win this match was going to do it in a serious, dirty, nasty way,” Sirianni said. “We managed to gain the upper hand. »
Astute NFL fans shouldn’t have been surprised.
Because while the Chiefs alternated between escaping close games late and squandering them, the Eagles gradually clawed their way back or maintained their lead.
Philadelphia averaged 13.9 points per second half, compared to the Chiefs’ 5.3.
The Eagles’ scoring ranks fourth in the league. The Chiefs are dead last, 0.7 points behind the Arizona Cardinals (2-9), who rank second.
Hurts rushed for both Eagles touchdowns in the second half, giving Philadelphia the first lead of the night with 6:23 left. And his 150 passing yards don’t reflect the level of mental processing he was doing on the field.
Nearly a third of Hurts’ aerial route came on a 41-yard ball to DeVonta Smith that catapulted the Eagles to the 1-yard line and set up the nearly locked-in “Brotherly Shove” for the game’s touchdown. green light. the loft coming out of a collapsing pocket was much less orchestrated than its balance suggested.
Sirianni admitted he didn’t call the go ball that Hurts dialed up.
“Huge play that Jalen actually checked (and) a heck of a check,” Sirianni said. “That’s what good quarterbacks do: They make three or four plays that change the game with their minds.
“Jalen did that tonight.”
There is reason to believe he will do it again.
So while the Chiefs undoubtedly still prefer their Super Bowl rings to Monday night bragging rights, and the Eagles will continue to peddle aphorisms such as the best part of Monday’s victory was that it was their next chance to win, Monday’s game taught fans a lot about what to expect in this year’s playoffs.
Counting out Mahomes is dangerous, but the Chiefs’ current roster is so deficient in pass catchers that there’s legitimate reason to believe even he can’t compensate.
The 9-1 Eagles, meanwhile, have the league’s best record on Thanksgiving because they not only make plays, but they make them at the times most needed to win games — even after the circumstances of the previous game raise the stakes of these games.
“I don’t think we played flawless tonight; far from our norm,” Hurts said. “But what you can’t test or quantify is the resilience of a team and its ability to persevere, see clearly and overcome things. And this team has that.
“We haven’t performed up to our standards yet, but we continue to find ways to win. And when you win games like we won games, it builds a ton of character.