The football stayed in the air a long time, as few of Patrick Mahomes’ passes do. This one wasn’t straight and targeted as a strong-bow’s arrow, but, instead, traveled a deep and feathery arc to an empty area of Lincoln Financial Field, giving Tyreek Hill enough time to sprint under it and haul it in for the Kansas City Chiefs’ sixth touchdown Sunday. And once Hill stepped into the end zone, Andy Reid lowered his head and shuffled along the sideline. He said nothing to anyone. He showed no visible reaction at all. That he had delivered one final killing stroke to his former team, an add-on score with 2 1/2 minutes left in the Chiefs’ 42-30 victory over the Eagles, was enough, a message that required no words.
“We were just setting them up all game,” Hill said. “You’ll see Reid run a slant after slant and then out route after out route, and then we finally go deep. That’s just the way Andy Reid rolls.”
For 14 years here, Reid was an excellent head coach. His nine years in Kansas City have elevated him into a great one: a Super Bowl victory, another berth in the big game last season, the development and refinement of Mahomes into the NFL’s best quarterback. Sunday’s win was his 100th, including those in the postseason, with the Chiefs, making him the first coach in league history to hit triple digits with two franchises. Once he dispensed with the still-unchanged routines of any news conference he holds — “As far as the injuries go” and “Time’s yours” — he spoke of the milestone as anyone would have expected: He was self-effacing and dismissive in a genial way.
“It’s great,” he said. “People here have been phenomenal since I got here. My room was loaded with food. It was good to have a cheesesteak … and a lot of other things. It took place. It’s over now. We can move on.”
He is 63. This was likely the last game he will coach in Philadelphia. The Chiefs won’t play here again for another eight years. Did returning to the city strike any emotional chord with him?
“I’m pretty good with it,” he said. “You want me to cry up here? I don’t have anything more to say. I’m sweating my butt off. I want to get back and shower.”
Most of the media in the room laughed. No one would suggest that Reid faces the same measures of scrutiny and tenacity in Kansas City than he did while he was with the Eagles. “You guys can be a little rough,” he said in response to a question from a local reporter, and it’s possible that his environment, combined with the experience and knowledge he has accumulated over time, has contributed to his becoming a better coach there than he was here.
He has won a higher percentage of his regular-season games with the Chiefs (.705) than he did with the Eagles (.583), and from the offensive talent he has helped assemble to the strategic innovations he has brought to pro football’s highest level, he remains among the league’s most respected minds. Reid has always been at his weakest when he has had to improvise during a game, and given the variety of ways with which the Chiefs can produce points and the speed with which they can score, he has gone a long way to eliminating the need for him to think on his feet.
Sunday was one of the consummate examples of that evolution. The Chiefs never punted. They averaged 7.5 yards per play. They gained 200 rushing yards — after gaining 186 last week, in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Their only possession that didn’t result in a touchdown ended with a Mahomes interception, his and their only significant blemish. Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and his unit had been overmatched in their previous game, a 41-21 loss to the Cowboys, and their powerlessness Sunday was entirely predictable.
Two deep safeties, a single-high safety, blitzes — nothing that Gannon tried mattered. Nothing that he tried worked. The Chiefs have marvelous talent: Mahomes, Hill, Travis Kelce, depth at running back. But the holes along the line of scrimmage were gaping, and when Gannon put two linebackers on the field on third-and-goal from the Eagles’ 6-yard line in the second quarter, Reid unveiled a spread formation that required one of those linebackers to cover Hill, who promptly caught the first of his three touchdowns. The Eagles could neither decipher Reid’s scheme nor stay with the Chiefs’ skill-position players.
“When you’ve got a new staff, you’ve got to learn,” cornerback Darius Slay said. “It’s still early in the season. That’s a good thing. But we’ve got to start this … now. We’ve got to figure it out now. We don’t have too much time. We’ve got to figure it out now.”
Andy Reid was happy to show his old team how far it has to go yet. He walked out to the field Sunday to the sound of scattered cheers, and he left late in the afternoon, probably for the last time, to hugs and handshakes from security guards, office workers, familiar faces. He left having orchestrated a near-perfect offensive performance, without having to say a word. It’s just the way he rolls.