KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Taylor Swift these days can do no wrong.
The new Madonna, in the middle of her record-shattering Eras tour, harvesting cash by the kilo thanks to a concert movie of the same name, got trapped in Rio by weather and logistics and chose to reschedule a concert date for the same time as Monday night’s mess in K.C., which featured her sweetheart, Travis Kelce, and her hometown team, the Eagles.
Music’s most recent billionaire would have needed more than a cardigan at cold, rainy Arrowhead Stadium. Instead, she performed in broiling Brazil, where she had to postpone a show due to a lethal heat wave. There, she neither felt the cold nor smelled the stench of football’s two best teams playing an exquisitely horrid brand of football.
Both Kelce and his suddenly less-famous teammate, Patrick Mahomes, each turned the ball over in the red zone. The Chiefs two super heroes turned anti-heroes when those turnovers proved to be the difference. The Eagles overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to register a 21-17 win, move to 9-1, cement their status as the NFL’s best team, and move to 2-0 in their six-game, defining stretch that resumes Sunday against the Bills in Philadelphia.
The Chiefs are now 7-3. Kelce had seven catches for just 44 yards, giving him 17 catches for 116 yards in the last four weeks, since the romance heated up. If this keeps up, there’s gonna be bad blood between the Swifties and Chiefs Nation.
It was a big game, but, in the grand scheme, the Super Bowl LVII rematch was rendered anticlimactic when Swift, the most popular chanteuse since the Material Girl, announced that neither of her $40 million jets could deliver her to biggest prime-time event of the NFL season. As such, she was spared the dilemma, after more than a decade of performing in Eagles green, of publicly supporting her new beau’s club over the team for which she cheered in Super Bowls LII and LVII.
She recently has chosen the Chiefs. Such treachery.
Her Chiefs lost. Such karma.
But, since she didn’t attend, she didn’t miss much.
Her Eagles overcame poor play-calling, a duped defense, and a couple of missed calls from the refs. Jalen Hurts wasn’t very good, either. He had a bye week to recover from a bruised knee, but he remained slow both afoot and between his ears. Also, in a cold and stinging rain, Hurts threw bad passes, the worst an interception that he underthrew to A.J. Brown, who might have run the wrong route, too.
Hurts had almost as bad a night as the stripes.
The officials missed a blatant pick on the Chiefs’ second touchdown, from Mahomes to Kelce, and called a bogus pre-snap penalty that ensured the Chiefs got a last-second field goal before halftime, but what do you expect when you play the Super Bowl champs at home, led by the reigning MVP and the world’s preeminent insurance salesman? The refs are good neighbors, too.
The refs weren’t as bad as the Birds. Defensive end Josh Sweat, perhaps in homage to absent serial offender Derek Barnett, committed two pre-snap penalties in the first half.
Sweat’s favorite Swift tune? “Shake It Off,” he said, chuckling. He forced an intentional grounding penalty late, and realized: “I guess I shook it off!”
The only Swift that mattered Monday was D’Andre Swift, the Eagles’ running back who accounted for 107 yards from scrimmage on 15 touches, with a touchdown. He did so behind an offensive line that sputtered early and dominated late — a line anchored by Jason Kelce, Travis’ big brother, and Jordan Mailata, who, in the absence of Tay-Tay, likely was the best singer in the stadium, not to mention, in a brown-and-black checked British-cut woolen suit, the best-dressed.
Mailata’s fave? “You Belong with Me,” he said, without hesitation. At which point Haason Reddick, who sacked Mahomes on the second play of the game, began singing, “She wears short skirts …”. Immediately, 6-foot-6, 336-pound defensive tackle Jordan Davis finished the line: “I wear T-shirts.”
No doubt what was going to be playing on the team plane back to Philly.
As to the Kelces, well, Travis — who has been hiding from the press like David Beckham did when he dated Posh Spice — spoke for all of 40 seconds after the game, in no mood to address his shortcomings or his love life.
Jason was, as ever, gracious and empathetic, if a little devious. Jason wore a Cleveland Heights High School letter jacket with football, hockey, and lacrosse stitched on its backs and, on the front, adorned with his first varsity letter, the golden “H” he earned as a freshman hockey player. He assumed that he Travis would record their weekly “New Heights” podcast this week, and that they would discuss the game — it’s the first time Jason has beaten little bro — the teams, and of course the lady.
Jason’s favorite Swift song?
“Bejeweled,” he said, a tune he shares with a 4-year-old named Wyatt. “It’s not, like, my favorite, but I watch it with my daughter, and just the joy it brings to her … “
Bejeweled. Huh. Jason has one Super Bowl ring. Travis has two. They might meet again in February with another ring at stake.
They represented the best teams the NFL has to offer at the moment, as they had done 281 days before in Arizona, where a dramatic Super Bowl LVII was won by Andy Reid and Mahomes, or, depending on your admirations and resentments, was lost by Hurts and Nick Sirianni.
Everything on Monday pointed at a Chiefs win. Reid, the bye-master and the Eagles’ Daddy since he left, fell to 4-1 against the Birds and now is 21-4 after a bye.
Taylor Swift, meanwhile, remains undefeated.