October 2, 2014

2005: Eagles Rally to Beat Chiefs

The Philadelphia Eagles, defending NFC Champions, were 2-1 as they faced the Kansas City Chiefs on October 2, 2005. Under Head Coach Andy Reid, the pass-heavy Eagles featured QB Donovan McNabb (pictured at right), who had put together back-to-back 300-yard passing games the previous two weeks, and had other formidable offensive weapons in WR Terrell Owens and RB Brian Westbrook. However, McNabb was suffering from a sports hernia, among other ailments, and the Eagles were also without dependable PK David Akers due to a groin pull and would be going with untested Todd France in his place.

Kansas City was coached by Dick Vermeil, a former NFC-winning coach with Philadelphia, and was also coming into the game at 2-1. 35-year-old QB Trent Green directed the attack and WR Eddie Kennison was the best of the wide receivers while TE Tony Gonzalez was a premier tight end. RB Priest Holmes still led the ground game, although Larry Johnson, in his third year, was waiting in the wings. The defense was vulnerable against the pass.

The Chiefs took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards in nine plays. Trent Green completed three passes, two of them to Eddie Kennison for 15 and seven yards, and Priest Holmes rushed six times for 31 yards, the last three for a touchdown. Lawrence Tynes added the extra point.

The Eagles drove just past midfield before having to punt and Kansas City again put points on the board thanks to a series highlighted by Green throwing to Kennison (pictured below) for a 49-yard gain. Tynes kicked a 38-yard field goal and the Chiefs were ahead by 10-0.

Kansas City got the ball right back on the ensuing kickoff when CB Roderick Hood fumbled and LB Kris Griffin recovered for the Chiefs at the Philadelphia 27. Three plays into the second quarter, Green once again connected with Kennison, this time for an eight yard TD. Tynes converted to stretch the home team’s margin to 17-0.

The teams traded punts before the Eagles, starting at their 24, put together an effective drive. Donovan McNabb completed four straight passes, two of them to Terrell Owens, to reach the KC 23 before the advance stalled and the 40-yard field goal attempt by Todd France, his first in the NFL, was blocked by DE Eric Hicks. On the ensuing series, the Eagles got a break on defense when CB Sheldon Brown intercepted a pass by Green that was intended for Kennison and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. The try for a two-point conversion failed, and the Chiefs quickly turned the tables when WR Dante Hall returned the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. Tynes added the extra point and the Kansas City lead was 24-6.

The Eagles punted following their next series but took advantage of another KC turnover when RB Larry Johnson fumbled and DT Sam Rayburn recovered at midfield. The visitors went 50 yards in five plays, the last two of which were McNabb completions to Owens for 28 yards and then a seven-yard touchdown. France added the extra point to narrow Kansas City’s lead to 24-13, and that was the score at the half.

Philadelphia had first possession in the third quarter and drove into Kansas City territory, with McNabb completing three passes, but the series stalled at the 26 and France kicked a 44-yard field goal. Neither team threatened again until, with fewer than four minutes remaining in the period, McNabb connected with Owens for a 30-yard gain to the KC 30 and, two plays later after a sack, followed up with another pass to Owens for 28 yards to the three. From there, TE Mike Bartrum had a catch for a three-yard touchdown and the Eagles added a two-point conversion when McNabb completed a throw to Westbrook, tying the score at 24-24.

The Chiefs had a short series and punted, and as the game headed into the fourth quarter, Philadelphia drove to another score. McNabb had four completions, including one for an 18-yard gain to RB Lamar Gordon and another to WR Greg Lewis for 34 yards to the Kansas City 25. The Eagles again had to go for a field goal, and France was successful from 37 yards to put the visitors in front by 27-24.

It quickly got worse for the Chiefs when Hall fumbled the kickoff return and RB Reno Mahe recovered for Philadelphia at the KC 25. McNabb threw to Owens for 14 yards and to TE L.J. Smith, who made an outstanding catch for seven, and two plays later he hit Smith again for a one-yard TD. France added the extra point that put the Eagles ahead by ten.

The next possession by the Chiefs ended with Green being picked off by Brown once again, who returned it 20 yards to the KC 41. McNabb picked away at the Chiefs once more, completing four consecutive passes, and while the drive stalled at the eight, the Eagles again came away with points on a 26-yard field goal by France with 3:31 to play.

In the waning minutes, Green passed the Chiefs down the field and they came away with a 15-yard completion to Hall for a touchdown. Tynes added the extra point to make it a six-point game, but the onside kick was recovered by Mahe to seal the 37-31 win for the Eagles.

Philadelphia had the edge in total yards (396 to 353) and first downs (25 to 19). The Eagles managed only 28 rushing yards but gained 368 net passing yards. McNabb was sacked once while Philadelphia recorded three sacks. The Chiefs also turned the ball over four times, to two suffered by the Eagles.

Donovan McNabb completed 33 of 48 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns, giving up one interception. Terrell Owens (pictured below) had 11 catches for 171 yards and a TD and L.J. Smith contributed 9 receptions for 67 yards and a score. Brian Westbrook ran for only 15 yards on 9 attempts but had 6 catches for 33 yards. On defense, Sheldon Brown accounted for two interceptions that he returned for 60 yards and a touchdown. The fill-in placekicker Todd France was successful on three of four field goal attempts and both of his extra points.

For the Chiefs, Trent Green was successful on 19 of 30 throws for 221 yards and two TDs, but with two interceptions. Eddie Kennison caught 7 of those passes for 109 yards and a touchdown and also had a 23-yard run. Priest Holmes ran for 84 yards on 18 carries that included a score and had five receptions for 24 yards. Dante Hall contributed four catches for 45 yards and a TD (which tied the then-NFL career record of six) and averaged 29.3 yards on eight kickoff returns that included a touchdown.

“He’s unbelieveable, man,” said Kansas City CB Patrick Surtain of McNabb. “The second half, they got on a roll and it was like they were doing anything they wanted.”

Things did not go so well for McNabb and the Eagles the rest of the way. Feuding broke out between the quarterback and Terrell Owens, who was ultimately suspended from the team. McNabb finally succumbed to the sports hernia, which required surgery, and missed the last five games. Philadelphia plummeted to a 6-10 record and last-place finish in the NFC East after having won the division four straight times. The Chiefs rebounded to win their next two games on the way to a 10-6 record and second place ranking in the AFC West, although they failed to qualify for the playoffs in Dick Vermeil’s last season.

Donovan McNabb, who became the first quarterback in franchise history to pass for over 300 yards in three successive games with his performance in Kansas City, ended up throwing for 2507 yards and 16 touchdowns in his injury-shortened season. Terrell Owens caught 47 passes for 763 yards (16.2 avg.) and six TDs before he was banished. L.J. Smith had a career-high 61 catches for 682 yards (11.2 avg.) and three scores.

Todd France lasted three games with the Eagles and was successful on six of seven field goals as well as all five of his extra point attempts. He later played for Tampa Bay in what was his only NFL season. Already having seen action with NFL Europe, he went on to kick in the Arena Football League.