The Kansas City Chiefs hosted the Philadelphia Eagles in a Monday Night Football rematch of Super Bowl LVII. One team entered the halftime break with a 10-point lead but this time around, it was Andy Reid's bunch that started the second half in the driver's seat. Over the next 30 minutes of play, the visitors came scratching and clawing back to take a four-point lead late into the fourth quarter. That's all the Eagles needed, as the Chiefs didn't have enough answers to complete a comeback.
Here are four takeaways from Monday night's game.
The post-bye week Chiefs offense unleashed some dynamic wrinkles early on
The inconsistency of the 2023 Chiefs offense has been well-documented many times over in recent weeks. Entering the Week 10 bye, many wondered what Reid and his staff would come up with as a plan of attack for Philadelphia's talented defense. It was painfully obvious that Kansas City needed a mini-reset on that side of the ball, and Monday featured a few new wrinkles thrown into the mix by the Chiefs to start.
In the first half, the home team stuck to its roots by playing plenty of 12-personnel (one running back, two tight ends). Something that didn't get implemented a ton pre-bye, however, was double pre-snap motion by both of those tight ends. Kansas City didn't shy away from that early. Additionally, Kadarius Toney was used in the backfield on a couple of occasions and Clyde Edwards-Helaire even logged a nice rush on a toss play with Travis Kelce used as an insert blocker of sorts.
Reid and offensive coordinator Matt Nagy dialed the different elements back for a good chunk of the second half, with the offense also making plenty of self-inflicted mistakes along the way. A lack of second-half production is totally common for Chiefs games this season, so the offense didn't have questions answered about it in the grand scheme. That's the tough part.
Steve Spagnuolo's defense turned in yet another brilliant first half
There isn't much to say about the Chiefs' defense that hasn't already been said this season. A combination of 2022 rookies now being in their sophomore campaigns and some savvy free agent pickups by general manager Brett Veach has led to the unit being one of the NFL's very best. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo now has the horses to call whatever he wants within his system, which hasn't always been the case. Cornerback Trent McDuffie recently mentioned that after allowing 35 points to Philadelphia back in February, he felt that the defense still had something to prove. In the first half, it proved its excellence further.
An offense that entered the game converting on half of its third downs ended up conversion-less in the first half on three tries. The Eagles logged just 78, total net yards in half No. 1, averaging a lowly 3.4 yards per play in the process. The Chiefs' pass rush got after Jalen Hurts five times in the first half, with McDuffie himself accounting for a couple of them. Philadelphia came into Monday with the No. 3 scoring offense in the NFL. No one would've been able to tell by watching the opening half in Kansas City. The defense was once again a bright spot despite a loss.
Turnovers remain a glaring issue
In addition to having an offense that struggled to get out of its own way with things like missed assignments, drops and other mental lapses, turnovers have been abundant in 2023. Coming into Monday's game, the Chiefs had 17 giveaways on offense and their 13 takeaways as a defense secured them a -4 turnover differential. That trailed 20-plus teams leaguewide, surely a culprit that helped explain the team's struggles at times this year. In Week 11, turnovers came at the worst possible times.
In the first half, the Chiefs were driving before Mahomes floated a pass intended for Justin Watson and it was picked off by Eagles safety Kevin Byard. In the fourth quarter, tight end Travis Kelce hauled in a pass but later had the ball forced out. For an offense that doesn't let points come easily, this was par for the course. In one-score games, such major mistakes can truly turn out to be the difference. Drops are another subject for another day, but finishing off either of those turnover possessions with a touchdown would have gone a long way toward helping the Chiefs win.
The Super Bowl rematch leaves the Chiefs in interesting territory
On one hand, the Chiefs made so many terrible mistakes on Monday night and still had a chance to engineer a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, the offense continued to completely stall out in the second half and the same issues that plagued Kansas City before the bye continue to do so. Reid's team has simultaneously remained squarely in the Super Bowl contender mix and also looked like a potential first-round exit team this year. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sure, but this ugly loss shouldn't really help anyone's long-term outlook on the 2023-24 Chiefs.