Cornerback Sean Smith's interception was Michael Vick's second giveaway of the game and the fourth of five Eagles turnovers. (USA Today Images)
It was a familiar scene: Andy Reid stood at the podium and talked about how turnovers impact a game. Except it wasn’t a loser’s lament this time, and Reid wasn’t in the home press conference room when he delivered the speech on fundamentals.
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Eagles, 26-16, at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday evening (see Instant Replay). The Chiefs improved to 3-0. The Eagles fell to 1-2. There are already quite a few numbers in this paragraph, but this is the number that really matters in retrospect: five. That’s how many turnovers the Eagles committed. Three fumbles. Two interceptions. Five total.
“Five turnovers, five takeaways, that’s a tough thing in this league,” Reid said about the main reason why his new team won and his old team lost. “You want points and you want to be able to have the other team turn the ball over. Those are two very important stats. We were lucky enough to have five of those.”
If the Chiefs were lucky, the Eagles were sloppy. It started right from the beginning. After Kansas City’s opening drive stalled, the Chiefs kicked the ball away -- at which point Damaris Johnson gave the ball right back to them when he muffed the punt at the Eagles' 8-yard line. Turnover No. 1. That led to an easy Kansas City field goal.
Turnover No. 2 came shortly thereafter on the Eagles’ opening drive. Michael Vick threw his first interception of the season to Chiefs’ cornerback Eric Berry, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown. The Chiefs had fewer than 20 yards of total offense at that point and a 10-0 lead.
“First interception, the thing is, what hurt so much about that play, 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 a fade on the other side, it never happens. I didn’t make a good throw, made a poor decision, bad ball, something to learn from.”
Turnover No. 3 wasn’t a poor decision or a bad ball. It was a comedic error, the kind that TV networks love to re-run on blooper reels. With just 47 seconds left in the first quarter, Jason Kelce snapped the ball into his own thigh, which then ricocheted off Todd Herremans before winding up in the Chiefs’ control.
And that was just the first quarter. The rest of the game wasn’t much better.
“You can’t win a football game when you turn the football over like that,” Chip Kelly said. “We’re not blaming it on anything except our poor execution.”
Plenty of blame to go around then. Turnover No. 4 came in the second quarter. Vick dropped back and fired a deep pass intended for Riley Cooper. It was caught by Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith instead.
“I predetermined what I was going to do and I second-guessed myself,” Vick said. “I had the right decisions that I was going to make in my mind, it was the correct decision, and I tried to do something out of the box and it didn’t work out for me. The second one was just a misread and I missed him.
“Those plays you can’t have against a good defense like this. You’ve got to make every play count. I take responsibility for what happened tonight. I was in control of the offense and I didn’t get the tempo going. I didn’t move the ball the way we’re supposed to move the ball. I didn’t get the guys going the way I’m supposed to get them going. We just didn’t execute.”
As understatements go, it was a big one.
Turnover No. 5 -- and feel free to just sob out loud if you’re an Eagles fan and that kind of thing is cathartic -- came at the end of the game with under two minutes remaining. A lot of people had left the stadium by then, which was good for them because they beat traffic and avoided watching Vick fumble the ball away on a sack.
A lot of players said a lot of things about all those turnovers. DeSean Jackson said they put the Eagles “behind the eight ball to start.” Jason Avant said, “You have to keep in the back of your mind to protect the football,” though keeping it in the front might have been better. And then there was Riley Cooper, who summed it up well: “You can’t have five turnovers in a game -- in high school -- and win.”
No you can’t. Which is why they didn’t.