KANSAS CITY – Moments after a hard-fought 21-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Nick Sirianni let loose in the narrow halls of what is now called GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Eagles coach took aim at one reporter who predicted a Chiefs win because of the advantages of having a Hall of Fame coach and quarterback.
It was hardly an outlandish “hot take” to take that route but Sirianni obviously used it to fuel his team to get a win that was very important to the coach.
Sirianni started his NFL coaching career in Kansas City in 2009 after cultivating a relationship with former Chiefs coach Todd Haley at a Western New York gym and spent his first four seasons in the league with the organization. He also met his wife there so the area remains a big part of the coach’s life, something he downplayed in the leadup to the contest.
“It’s where I started my NFL career and there is always — every place you go, whether I go to Buffalo, whether I go to Kansas City, Indianapolis, all the places, San Diego, I guess I don’t go there anymore — no matter where you go, you’ll have some memories you really enjoyed there,” he admitted. “You can’t let yourself get wrapped up into that. I’ve got a job to do.
“Will I have Jack Stack’s when I get there, which is a good barbecue place? Yeah,” he smiled. “I’ve got good memories going there. And so, I’ll have that. And I’ll see my mother- and father-in-law at the game because they’re close by. Besides that, business as usual.”
That was the balance to something that was hardly business as usual.
A minute walk and talk about the screen game with Sirianni by this reporter turned into five minutes because so many Chiefs and stadium employees stopped the Eagles’ coach to congratulate him on the short trip from the post-game press conference area back to the Eagles’ locker room.
This one was big for Sirianni and the coach is a big believer that if you’ve got a personal tie to a certain situation and it helps, use it.
Sirianni claimed his pregame narrative was not about being disrespected but more run-of-the-mill, winning against the reigning Super Bowl champions in a hostile environment made even more difficult by a persistent rain that was supposed to let up by halftime but never did.
“Whoever was going to win that game, was going to win it gritty, grimy, nasty,” Sirianni said. “All those adjectives.”
The Eagles had one of their worst offensive games of the season and were unable to get the football to A.J. Brown or convert a third down until late in the third quarter but the defense came through with red-zone turnovers on an interception by Kevin Byard and a peanut punch forced fumble by Bradley Roby, who victimized Kansas City star Travis Kelce.
“Those guys are here because they’ve made plays in their careers,” Sirianni said of the two veterans who are projected to calm down the secondary woes in the back half of the season.
There were some breaks as well like when Marquez Valdes-Scantling beat Roby late in the game for what likely would have been a go-ahead touchdown and dropped the football.
Good teams take advantage of second chances, however, and a Josh Sweat pressure forced Patrick Mahomes into an intentional grounding penalty that essentially ended the game.
“The defense kept making plays waiting for the offense to make plays, and they did in a critical time,” Sirianni assessed.
The big one was a 42-yard reception by DeVonta Smith on a check by quarterback Jalen Hurts down to the Kansas City one-yard line. That was quickly followed by a Hurts touchdown on the tush push, putting the Eagles to top for the first time with 6:20 left in the game.
“I don’t think we played clean tonight,” Hurts admitted. “I don’t think we played to our standard — nowhere near our standard.”
Sirianni was willing to grade his MVP candidate on a curve, however.
“Good quarterbacks make three or four plays that change a game with their mind,” Sirianni said. “They got to do a great job throwing the ball, running the show, but they make three or four checks a game with their mind that can make big differences.”