KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Marquez Valdes-Scantling laid in the west end zone at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium and smacked the turf repeatedly.
The Kansas City Chiefs trailed the Philadelphia Eagles by four with 1 minute, 42 seconds remaining when Patrick Mahomes rainbowed a 50-yard pass down the middle of the field.
Valdes-Scantling had beaten Eagles cornerback Bradley Roby badly on a deep post and Mahomes put victory in his hands, but he dropped the pass.
“Football’s football,” McDuffie said. “Not everything is perfect and things happen, but I know we’re going to come back from that with a strong mindset. That’s for sure.”
The loss wasn't solely on Valdes-Scantling, who didn't have a catch on three targets, but the Chiefs’ chances for a comeback also fell away with his drop in the closing minutes.
"Marquez is a phenomenal player and he makes that play 99 out of 100 times,” wide receiver Justin Watson said. “It’s just this one he didn’t come up with."
Despite an unceasing drizzle throughout the highly anticipated Super Bowl LVII rematch Monday, Kansas City's offense ran dry in the second half of a 21-17 loss.
Kansas City rode a stout defense, which allowed only 78 first-half yards, to a 10-point halftime lead, but Philadelphia got untracked in the second half as its defense stiffened for a second-half shutout, the third straight scoreless second half for coach Andy Reid's offense.
“I think we’re kind of shooting ourselves in the foot,” Andy Reid said. “I’ve got to do a better job helping out with that and my guys have got to do the same thing. We’ve got to pick it up a notch in the second half; we’re just not as sharp there.”
The Chiefs’ offense, which averages an NFL-worst 5.3 points per game after halftime, committed two red-zone turnovers — a second-quarter interception by Patrick Mahomes and a fourth-quarter fumble by Travis Kelce — for the first time in two years during yet another meager performance in falling to 7-3 overall and slipping a half-game behind Baltimore in the AFC standings.
“That’s very frustrating,” wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. said.
Kansas City and Philadelphia entered the game atop their respective conference standings with the best two records in the NFL, but the Eagles flipped the script from last season’s Super Bowl loss in improving to 9-1 on the season.
Mahomes’ counterpart, Jalen Hurts, shrugged off a sluggish first half, which included five sacks, by running for two second-half touchdowns in rallying Philadelphia to victory.
Hurts finished 14 of 22 for 150 yards with an interception. He also ran for 29 yards on 12 carries.
The Eagles entered the game averaging nearly 377 yards and 28 points per game, so the Chiefs did well to limit Hurts and company to 238 total yards.
But Kansas City’s offensive woes proved decisive again.
The Chiefs didn't have any pass plays longer than 17 yards.
After rushing for 121 yards in the first half, Kansas City managed only 47 yards on 10 carries in the second half, which featured five offensive penalties and Kelce's fumble at the 10-yard line.
“We went up against one of the best — if not, the best — NFC teams and we we're this close,” Mahomes, who finished 24 of 43 for only 177 yards with two touchdowns and interception, said. “In the NFL, if you don’t make the big plays in those moments in the red zone and in those two-minute drills then you lose. That’s what we did today.”
The Chiefs hope that includes Valdes-Scantling.
“I think everyone has all the confidence,” said Watson, who had five catches and team-highs for receiving yards (53) and targets (11). “We’ve seen Marquez make that play time and time again. And I know he will next time it’s called upon.”
GROUNDED EAGLES: The vaunted Philadelphia offense, which entered Monday ranked third in scoring and fifth in yards per game in the NFL, struggled to get untracked against Kansas City’s stout defense.
The Eagles managed only 78 yards, averaging 3.4 yards per snap, in the first half.
Philadelphia had a nine-play touchdown drive that covered 75 yards midway through the first quarter, but managed only eight yards on 14 plays on the other four drives before halftime.
“Our defense played tremendous football — aggressive, had all those sacks in the first half,” Andy Reid said.
Hurts finished 5 of 7 for 46 yards with an interception in the first half and Philly only gained one yard in going three-and-out to open the second half.
MIXED BAG FOR MAHOMES: Mahomes made magic in the first quarter.
On third-and-goal, he scrambled up in the pocket and delivered a leaping 3-yard touchdown off his left leg to Justin Watson in the back of the end zone.
The Eagles answered with a 4-yard D’Andre Swift touchdown run and seemingly gained some momentum when safety Kevin Byard picked off Mahomes in the end zone, temporarily preventing the Chiefs from retaking the lead.
“We got the look we thought we were going to get,” said Watson, the intended receiver on the pick. “They were in single, high (safety) — just up and over the linebacker — but Pat and I have got to be on the same page as far as making sure that’s a touchdown and not an interception.”
Despite the turnover, the defense forced a three-and-out, which got the ball back in the offense’s hands quickly near midfield.
Seven plays later, Mahomes connected with tight end Travis Kelce on a 4-yard touchdown and Kansas City never relinquished the lead.
It was the 51st touchdown from Mahomes to Kelce, which is tied for third in NFL history among QB-TE duos with Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham.
That TD connection between Mahomes and Kelce is the 51st between the pair. They tie Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham (51) for the 3rd most by a QB-TE duo in NFL history.— Chiefs Communications (@ChiefsPR) November 21, 2023
Early in the fourth quarter, with the Chiefs poised to put a dagger in the Eagles, Kelce coughed up the ball — ending a 12-play, 65-yard drive with no points.
Kansas City would never reach the red zone again.
JONES’ SACK DROUGHT ENDS: After missing the season-opener amid a contract dispute, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones started his 2023 season like gang-busters with at least one sack in each of the first five games.
But frustration set in for Jones during the next three games, when he managed a combined two quarterback hits and five total tackles.
Late in the first half against the Eagles, Jones ended the drought in style — sacking Jalen Hurts twice in a span of three plays to help the Chiefs reclaim momentum after Mahomes was picked off in the end zone.
It’s the 19th time in Jones’ career he’s had more than one sack in a game.
“Chris Jones is one of those guys that can make a different each and every down,” cornerback Trent McDuffie said.
The two sacks moved Jones back into the team lead with 7 1/2 on the season, passing George Karlaftis, who added his seventh sack of the season later in the second quarter.
It’s a new career-high in sacks for Karlaftis, who had six as a rookie last season.
MCDUFFIE MATCHES JONES: Not to be outdone, McDuffie, who entered the game with one career sack, also had two sacks in the first half.
McDuffie is prized for his cover skills and physical presence on the boundary, but he's never been much of a pass rusher.
“No, sir — never,” he said when asked if he'd ever had a two-sack game before. “I think my first sack came in the NFL, but hopefully I can get some more."
McDuffie also forced his fifth fumble of the season when he stripped the ball from Hurts on the second sack.
SNEED HITS DOUBLE FIGURES: With a sliding grab as he undercut A.J. Brown early in the second quarter, L’Jarius Sneed recorded the 10th interception of his NFL career.
Sneed, who also had an interception against the Los Angeles Chargers, has now had multiple interceptions in all four seasons since entering the league as a fourth-round draft pick from Louisiana Tech in 2020.
HARDMAN EXITS BRIEFLY: Wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. hurt his thumb during the first quarter and was questionable to return.
Hardman, who had a 5-yard catch before the injury, rejoined the Chiefs via trade with the New York Jets last month.
He returned to the game and had a 7-yard reception late in the third quarter, finishing with two catches for 12 yards
TRAVIS KELCE’S ‘CHIPOLTE’: After an old tweet in which Travis Kelce misspelled Chipotle while in college resurfaced, the fast-casual Mexican chain renamed its location closest to the stadium Monday as an homage.
The location at 4151 Sterling Ave., Suite B in Kansas City, Missouri, even changed its marquee to read “Chipolte” for the day.
UP NEXT: The Chiefs, who have lost two of three since a six-game win streak, begin a stretch with three road games in the next four weeks Sunday at Las Vegas. Kickoff is set for 3:25 p.m. against the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.
“The Oakland [sic] Raiders are a team that’s been on a roll since they got the new coach, so — we can’t hang our head on this, but we definitely can improve,” Jones said. “We’ve got a lot of improvement to do.”