PHILADELPHIA — This was one time Andy Reid didn’t mind being a big target.
The man in the bull’s-eye so often when he coached in Philadelphia was easy for Chiefs receiver Donnie Avery to find. At the end of Kansas City’s 26-16 victory over the Eagles in Reid’s homecoming Thursday night, Avery gave Reid a Gatorade shower.
Reid already looked strange decked in all red on the visitors’ sideline. Now, he was drenched, too — but smiling, even joking he was doing Gatorade promotions.
“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.”
The result was similar to what he gave Philadelphia in his 14 years in charge of the Eagles, thanks to a dynamic Chiefs defense that forced five turnovers and sacked a harried Michael Vick five times. Vick even limped off after a late fumble — he said his ankle got rolled, but he was fine — but stayed around to hug Reid following the final play.
“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 — after which it hired Reid days after he was fired on the heels of Philly’s 4-12 finish.
“It’s important,” he said of the fast start, “but there’s still a lot of season left. There no time to relax on what you have done.”
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 defense, particularly linebacker Justin Houston.
It was offensive master Reid’s defense 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 in the first half. He had another half-sack to start the second half, off a bad snap to Vick, and he forced Vick to fumble with 1:34 remaining. Houston has 6 1/2 sacks in three games.
“The defense, man — the DBs, the linebackers giving great coverage, the big guys in the middle pushing the pocket,” he said. “When they’re doing that, it’s real easy for me to do my job.”
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.
“I take full responsibility,” Vick said. “I didn’t get the offense going. I didn’t get the tempo going. We didn’t play well by any stretch. We didn’t execute at all and we didn’t play the way we’re capable of.”
But after falling behind 10-0, Vick got the Eagles’ no-huddle, fast-tempo offense in gear 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 offense 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 quarter, 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.
“This was definitely bigger than coach Reid, and he would be the first to admit that,” cornerback Sean Smith said. “This was about us as an organization, as a team, to go out there and be 3-0, which is big in the NFL.”
NOTES: The Eagles retired Donovan McNabb’s No. 5 jersey at halftime. ... The Chiefs are the fifth team to go 3-0 after losing 14 games or more the previous season. ... Kansas City came into the game tied for the league lead in sacks and now has 15.