PHILADELPHIA — The look was strange: Andy Reid in all red on the visitors’ sideline.
The result was similar to what he gave Philadelphia in his 14 years in charge of the Eagles.
Reid’s homecoming was a smashing success for the new Kansas City coach thanks to a dynamic defence that forced five turnovers and sacked a harried Michael Vick six times in the Chiefs’ 26-16 victory Thursday night.
“Yeah, it was different,” Reid said. “I was on the opposite side of the field than I normally am at. But I can’t tell you that I was caught up in that part of it.”
Vick even limped off with 1:07 to go after the final sack and fumble, but stayed around to hug Reid following the final play — just after Donnie Avery gave Reid a Gatorade shower on the sideline.
“It was great to see the players that are here,” Reid admitted. “I had a chance to talk to them after the game.”
Kansas City, which has not had a giveaway in opening 3-0, has won one more game already than it did in 2012 — when it earned the first overall draft pick, then hired Reid days after he was fired on the heels of Philly’s 4-12 finish.
The usually stoic Reid showed some fire to match his bright red outfit late in the first half when he thought the Chiefs got a bad spot.
He came out to the hash mark to yell at the officials, then walked off at halftime still gesturing his displeasure.
That was far more emotion than he displayed when he entered the stadium with the Chiefs just before kickoff. Although the Philly fans gave him a warm ovation, some standing in tribute to the man who won 140 games and six division titles for them, Reid walked briskly along the sideline, never turning his gaze toward the stands.
But he later said he recognized the tribute.
“I appreciate the fans and the support they gave me,” he said. “That was kind of them.”
He certainly had to like much of what he saw on the field from his defence, particularly Houston.
It was offensive master Reid’s defence and special teams that set the tone and put his team ahead early, silencing the sea of green at the Linc. The Chiefs forced four first-half turnovers and Houston had three of their four sacks. He had another half-sack to start the second half, off a bad snap to Vick, and the last one when he forced Vick to fumble with 1:34 remaining. Houston has 7 1/2 sacks in three games.
“We got the push from the guys inside and that made it easier for the guys outside to get in there and get after him,” Houston said.
Damaris Johnson’s muffed punt return gave Kansas City the ball at the Eagles 8, leading to Ryan Succop’s 33-yard field goal for a quick 3-0 lead. Derrick Johnson then deflected Vick’s ill-advised throw into the flat and Eric Berry picked it off, going 38 yards with the first interception of the year for the Philly quarterback.
There would be more mistakes as Philadelphia (1-2) lost its eighth straight home game.
But first, after falling behind 10-0, Vick got the Eagles’ no-huddle, fast-tempo offence going with the longest run of his 12-year career. He burst up the middle, shook off two attempted tackles and sped 61 yards. Two plays later, it was his arm doing the damage. Under a heavy rush, he stood in and led Jason Avant perfectly in the left corner of the end zone for a 22-yard score.
That three-play, 87-yard spurt epitomized the fast-paced offence coach Chip Kelly brought from Oregon in replacing Reid. But Kelly got cute, going for a 2-point conversion on tight end Zach Ertz’s run that failed.
The takeaways kept the Chiefs in front. And after Avery turned a short pass into a 51-yard gain thanks to sloppy Eagles tackling, Succop made a 31-yard field goal. He kicked a 34-yarder moments later after another turnover, Sean Smith’s interception, for a 16-6 halftime edge.
Avery had a big night, finishing with seven catches for 141 yards.
Alex Henery’s 29-yard field goal was the only scoring of a sloppy third period, and when Jamaal Charles surged around right end for a 3-yard TD early in the fourth quarter, Reid’s return was a rousing success. Not even LeSean McCoy’s 41-yard TD run with 11:36 remaining could spoil that.