Reid’s second-half adjustments left Sirianni, Gannon with no answers

Posted on February 16, 2023

On the Super Bowl 57 coaching scorecard, Andy Reid lost the first half and won the second half.

And won the game.

The Chiefs defeated the Eagles, 38-35, a bitter disappointment for a Birds team that had every opportunity to win. Reid outcoached Nick Sirianni, making second-half adjustments the Eagles never countered.

Reid’s Chiefs went into the locker room at halftime down, 24-14. Only one team had overcome a 10-point halftime deficit to win the Super Bowl — the 2016 Patriots, who rallied to beat the Falcons. Those Patriots had Tom Brady.

These Chiefs had Patrick Mahomes.

Kansas City looked like a different team in the second half. The Chiefs desperately needed points and a feeling like they belonged. The Eagles had the lead, momentum and were controlling play.

The Chiefs responded, scoring a touchdown after a crisp 10-play, 75-yard drive. Mahomes was 3-of-3 on the drive.

Clearly, the Chiefs’ adjustments worked. Reid’s experience might have been the difference. He just finished his 24th year as a head coach. Sirianni’s defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon seemed powerless to stop the Chiefs.

  • “They just did a great job getting that ball out of his hands, a lot of quick stuff,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said.
  • “We knew that going in. Then, when we did get him, or we were close to getting him, it was just Mahomes making plays.”


In the second half, Mahomes had all day to throw and his targets were wide-open. The Eagles’ pass-rush, which had the third-highest season sack total in *NFL history*, put zero heat on Mahomes and paid for it.

Sirianni said there was discussion on the sideline about getting to Mahomes but the Eagles didn’t blitz and the Chiefs’ offensive line did its job.

Gannon, who was named the Cardinals’ head coach on Tuesday, was responsible for the defense. His defense has been criticized throughout the season despite being second-ranked in the league.

Mahomes completed 13-of-14 passes for 93 yards in the second half, as the Chiefs outscored the Eagles, 24-11.

  • “They did a good job of knowing what our strength was and doing their best to mitigate it,” Sirianni said about the Chiefs.


ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, a former NFL quarterback, showed how Reid used a man-in-motion play in the second half to score two touchdowns.

The Chiefs put a player in motion to gauge the Eagles’ reaction. The Eagles took the bait. When the Chiefs’ player went into motion, two Eagles followed.

Then, on the next play, the Chiefs put a man in motion, the Eagles reacted similarly, and Kadarius Toney walked into the vacated area. Mahomes played pitch-and-catch with Toney for an easy 5-yard touchdown pass and a 28-27 lead.

The same sequence happened on the Chiefs’ next drive. This time, Skyy Moore caught a 4-yard touchdown pass on what looked like the same play, just on the other side of the field.


Reid started the game with a blunder — kicking off to the NFL’s best first-possession team. The Chiefs won the toss and could have received but chose to defer.

The Eagles made him pay, with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, the 11th time this season the Eagles scored a touchdown on their first possession.

Reid’s decision appeared foolish. To give the Eagles the ball, the opportunity to put points on the board and grab early momentum looked completely wrong.

Sirianni, meanwhile, looked like a riverboat gambler. He made the call on two fourth-down plays, both converted and both eventually leading to points. Hurts ran for 16 yards on a fourth-and-five in the second quarter at the Chiefs’ 44.

He converted his trademark quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-one in the third quarter at the Chiefs’ 21.

Sirianni went conservative in the third quarter when faced with a fourth-and-five at the Chiefs’ 15. He opted for a field goal after a 17-play drive. Jake Elliott kicked the 33-yarder, giving the Eagles a 27-21 lead. A touchdown would have made it a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.

Wide receiver A.J. Brown reportedly was upset that the Eagles didn’t try for a first down. “When we went up 27-21, I knew deep down there was probably a chance we were going to lose,” Brown told WIP.

Earlier, Reid chose the safe way out, When faced with a fourth-and 3 from the Eagles’ 24, in a 7-7 game, he sent in kicker Harrison Butker, for a 42-yard field goal attempt.

Reid’s cautiousness backfired when Butker bounced the kick off the left upright. Going for a field goal with Mahomes as your quarterback looked like an admission you had no confidence in your offense.

These Chiefs didn’t look the AFC powerhouse everyone knew they were. The Eagles had them off-balance and the Chiefs were lucky the margin wasn’t greater. Seven of the Chiefs’ 14 first-half points were thanks to a fumble by Jalen Hurts that was returned for a touchdown.

In the second half, everything changed. Reid made adjustments and the Eagles’ defense looked flat-footed. The Chiefs’ rally was on.

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Chuck Bausman

Chuck Bausman is an Eagles writer for Chuck formerly was the Executive Sports Editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Executive Sports Editor of the Courier-Post in South Jersey. He learned how to cuss by watching Philly sports.

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