After waiting 5 years, the Philadelphia Eagles have made it back to the Super Bowl! It is the 4th time overall the team has made it this far, and the 3rd time since 2005. This may be the most dominant team in franchise history, and a Super Bowl title would vindicate that claim. The offense is unstoppable when it is led by Jalen Hurts and the defense is immovable, with the best secondary and defensive line in football.
The regular season dominance has extended into the postseason, with the Eagles beating their first two playoff opponents by a combined score of 69-14. No team has been that dominant in the NFC playoffs since the 1985 Bears shut out back-to-back opponents in the Divisional and Championship rounds.
However, the toughest matchup for the Eagles has yet to come. Much like in 2018, their main obstacle is a Hall of Fame quarterback and head coach combo. Last time it was Belichick and Brady; this time its former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, and the supremely talented Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City Chiefs have been the most consistent and successful team since the Eagles’ last Super Bowl appearance.
The game 2 weeks ago against Cincinnati was their 5th straight AFC Championship, which broke Reid’s previous record of 4 straight Championship games that he set with the Eagles in the early 2000s. They have been just as dominant as the Eagles this season and are looking to create a dynasty by winning their second championship in 4 years.
The two teams don’t have much of a history against each other, playing only 9 times in 63 years. There will be plenty of overlap between these two teams though on Sunday, with the Andy Reid connection and the Kelce brothers playing one another. Before this battle of the titans, I wanted to rewind to the last time the Eagles were able to defeat the Chiefs.
September 27, 2009
The Kansas City Chiefs were a team with low expectations coming into the 2009 season. The previous year, they finished 2-14, which was the worst mark in franchise history. However, there was optimism around this team that did not exist previously. They signed quarterback Matt Cassel to a contract after he won 10 games backing up Tom Brady, and they had a new head coach in Todd Haley. The optimism quickly died out when the team began the season 0-2 with the defense struggling in week 1 and the offense struggling in week 2.
The Philadelphia Eagles were in a much better place than Kansas City was at the time. Andy Reid was in his 11th season with the team and they were expected by many to be one of the better teams in the NFC once again. Last year they finished 9-6-1 and made a surprise run to the NFC Championship game but lost against the Cardinals.
The Eagles were a team in transition, as old veterans like Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook lingered for another year, but younger players like DeSean Jackson, Kevin Kolb, and LeSean McCoy were being brought in to be the next wave of talent in Philadelphia. They started 1-1 after blowing the Panthers out on the road but then getting demolished by the Saints at home.
The Eagles won the coin toss and decided to receive the opening kickoff in an effort to assert their dominance early. Donovan McNabb sustained a rib injury the first week of the season and was forced to sit this game out, pushing backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to the starting position. Brian Westbrook was also inactive for the game due to an ankle injury, which gave rookie running back LeSean McCoy his first career start.
On 1st down, Kolb made a nice completion to tight end Brent Celek for 8 yards but that was all the “new” look Philly offense could muster on the opening drive of the game. Kansas City got the ball at their 24-yard line but fared even worse. They managed one first down but an offensive pass interference penalty, a delay of game penalty, and a sack backed them up to the 9-yard line.
The Eagles got the ball again and were able to take advantage of their good field position. Kolb completed passes to Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant to get the Eagles’ first 1st down of the day. Kolb however would get injured on the second throw, allowing 3rd string quarterback Michael Vick to come in. This was Vick’s first game action since he was an Atlanta Falcon in 2006. Vick immediately ran for 7 yards.
McCoy then rushed for 22 yards on the next 2 carries, getting the ball down to the 5-yard line. After a Vick incompletion, McCoy got the direct snap and slithered his way through the middle of the defense for his first career touchdown. David Akers drilled the extra point, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
The Kansas City offense again looked lifeless, giving up a sack to linebacker Omar Gaither on first down and had to punt the ball back to Philadelphia. The Eagles’ offense got right to work, with a 43-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson that brought the ball to the KC 20. McCoy rushed for 11 yards, and Celek caught a pass to bring the ball down to the 1-yard line. Kolb decided to do it himself on 3rd down and broke the plane for the rushing touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, the Eagles held a 14-0 lead.
The next frame started with a punt by the Chiefs back to the Eagles. 2 receptions by Brent Celek got the ball to midfield and a catch by McCoy brought the ball to the Kansas City 44. However, the Eagles came up short on 4th and 1 and turned the ball over on downs.
With good field position for the first time, the Chiefs’ offense was finally able to put something together. Second-year running back Jamaal Charles caught a pass from backup wide receiver Mark Bradley and scampered 26 yards to the Eagles’ 26. 2 plays later, Cassel tossed it down the left sideline to Bradley, who outmuscled the defender Chiefs’ first score of the game. They were back in the game and seemed to have momentum after a defensive stop and a score.
That momentum did not last, however. Eagles returner Ellis Hobbs got the ball to the 36-yard line and gave the offense good starting position. On 1st and 10, Kolb found Jackson on a quick slant, that turned into a 64-yard touchdown. Jackson’s defender stumbled, allowing him to zoom down the middle of the field and past every Kansas City defender. In the blink of an eye, the Eagles had regained their 2-possession lead, 21-7.
Kansas City once again went 3 and out, punting the ball back to Philadelphia with 6 minutes left in the first half. The Eagles slowly matriculated the ball downfield with a 15-play drive. Kolb spread the ball around to 4 different receivers, including Leonard Weaver and Reggie Brown to get the ball down to the Chiefs’ 11. Akers kicked a 29-yard field goal with 30 seconds left to extend the Eagles’ lead going into halftime, 24-7.
The Chiefs got the ball to start the half, but the offense remained ineffective. Similar to most of their possessions, it ended with a punt back to the Eagles. Maclin and Jackson continued to dominate the KC secondary, amassing 39 yards on 3 catches. It was then McCoy’s turn, who ran down to the Chiefs’ 20. The offense couldn’t find the endzone but was able to put more points on the board.
At 27-7, things were starting to get out of hand for the Chiefs. They turned to veteran running back Larry Johnson, who ran the ball 4 straight times on their next possession. He provided a temporary spark, but it was instantly blown out when he fumbled the ball on his 5th carry of the drive. Despite a Kansas City challenge, the fumble stood and the Eagles were in full control of the game. They couldn’t capitalize on the turnover but were able to take precious time off the clock.
After a 6-play drive that actually got the Chiefs into Eagles’ territory, their head coach turned cowardly and punted. After trading a few possessions, Kolb found Celek down the middle of the field for a 35-yard touchdown, their first of the second half. On the Chiefs’ next possession, Cassel found wide receiver Bobby Wade for a touchdown, but the game was already over at that point. The Eagles got the ball back with 1:34 left and out came 4th string quarterback Jeff Garcia, who kneeled out the 34-14 victory.
Kevin Kolb had perhaps his best game as a pro, throwing for 327 yards and 2 touchdowns. The rest of the young Eagles’ offense showed out as well. LeSean McCoy had 99 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in his first start. DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek each had over a hundred yards, with 149 and 104, respectively, and 2 combined touchdowns. The defense also played well, sacking Cassel 3 times and allowing only 196 total yards.
February 12, 2023
Over 13 years later, these two teams look very different. Andy Reid has since flipped sidelines and both have won Super Bowls during that time. Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are light years ahead of Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel. Both teams have become some of the best organizations in the NFL after struggling for years to put themselves on the map. The way the Eagles played that day in 2009 reminded me of a lot of how the Eagles would beat teams in 2022.
The offense could run or throw the ball at will while the defense suffocated the opponent with great secondary play and a consistent pass rush. The Eagles, in order to win, need to stay consistent with that identity and they have a chance to slow down this juggernaut Kansas City team. While I don’t expect the Super Bowl to play out like this game, I think the Eagles are still the more talented team and will be able to take home their second Lombardi Trophy.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire