Rub your eyes because the wavering mirage that Eagles fans saw the last five months went poof in an instant. What was believed to be a great team wasn’t. Broad Street was silent, as was every other rain-drenched intersection throughout Philadelphia already earmarked for a celebration that never came.
It’s a Philly thing—losing.
The Eagles entered the game with overwhelming optimism from national and local media. Anyone who truly knows the game thought the Eagles would win.
What was lost in that conjecture was Patrick Mahomes and Hall of Fame-bound Andy Reid showed what great players, great coaches and great teams do in big games, win in clutch moments, as the Chiefs did on Sunday in Super Bowl LVII, 38-35, on Harrison Butker’s 27-yard field goal with eight seconds left at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The loss was one of the most visceral in Eagles’ and in Philadelphia sports history, a gut-wrenching blow that will be remembered forever for a controversial defensive holding call on James Bradberry with 1:48 left to play at the Eagles’ 16 and Philadelphia with one timeout left.
The call gave Kansas City a fresh set of downs and enabled Mahomes and the Chiefs to finish a brilliant second-half in which they scored on every possession.
Some may define the loss as a choke job.
The reality is the Chiefs outplayed the Eagles and Mahomes proved why he is now the face of the NFL.
He became the first NFL MVP to win the Super Bowl in this century, and the first since 1999 when Kurt Warner led the St. Louis Rams to win Super Bowl XXXIV. Led by Mahomes and Reid, it was the Chiefs’ second Super Bowl championship in four years.
The defeat, however, cannot overshadow the amazing game of Jalen Hurts, who thoroughly outplayed Mahomes for most of the game, completing 27 of 38 for 304 yards, scoring three rushing touchdowns, a Super Bowl record for quarterbacks, and throwing for another.
Mahomes’ numbers were modest in comparison, though he did throw three touchdown passes and converted 4 of 5 third downs in the second half on a gimpy right ankle.
If the Eagles were broken in any one area, it was on the defensive side of the ball, where they registered no sacks on Mahomes and gave up critical yards in crucial situations. The Eagles did nothing to alter Mahomes’ rhythm. The Chiefs showed great balance, rushing the ball 26 times and passed 27 times.
Using that balance, anything Mahomes wanted to do, he did in the second half.
Here’s a look at some very good, some bad and a whole lot of ugly in Kansas City’s 38-35 Super Bowl LVII victory over the Eagles.
Jalen Hurts was simply brilliant. The Eagles didn’t lose because of Hurts. He put the Eagles in a position to win, and when they were down, 35-27, it was Hurts that drove them back for the tying score with 5:15 to play on his Super Bowl-record third rushing touchdown for a quarterback. He rushed for a team-high 70 yards, completed 27 of 38 for 304 yards and a touchdown, and for the most of the game was the best football player on the planet.
DeVonta Smith’s 45-yard reception that beat the Chiefs’ L’Jarius Sneed and temporarily saved the Eagles with 5:24 to play, setting up Hurts’ third TD tying the score 35-35 with 5:15 left to play.
The Eagles’ 17-play, 60-yard, 7-minute, 45-second drive on their first possession of the second half that resulted in a Jake Elliott 33-yard field goal when every point in such a taut game counted. The 17-play drive tied the longest drive in Super Bowl history.
On the Eagles’ first possession of the second half, faced with a third-and-six at the Eagles’ 29, Hurts finding tight end Dallas Goedert through a tight window for a 17-yard gain and a first down to preserve the drive. Goedert later came up with another 17-yard catch on a third-and-14 at the Chiefs’ 30.
The Eagles’ second quarter. They outscored Kansas City 17-7, outgaining the Chiefs 178-16, with 10 first downs in the quarter to the Chiefs’ 1, and holding the ball for 21:54 to Kansas City’s 8:06 for the half. The Eagles held the ball for 13 minutes in the second quarter to KC’s scant two minutes. The Chiefs were 0 for 3 in third-down conversions to the Eagles’ 6 of 10. The Eagles ran off 27 plays to the Chiefs’ eight, with Hurts outdueling MVP Mahomes, completing 17 of 22 for 183 and a touchdown, while scoring rushing for two more, to Mahomes’ 8 of 13 for 89 yards a touchdown. The Eagles were not only winning on the scoreboard, Hurts was winning over America with his first-half performance. It was the Jalen Hurts show.
Britain Covey’s 27-yard punt return with 1:22 left in the half, placing the Eagles at their 43 to increase a one-score lead by two scores going into halftime.
On the Eagles’ fifth drive, Hurts, still trying to overcompensate for the fumble on the previous drive, sprinting down the sideline on a quarterback draw for 28 yards to the Chiefs’ 16 on fourth-and-five. It set up Hurts’ four-yard touchdown later in the drive for a 21-14 Eagles’ lead.
Center Jason Kelce pulling left to block Chiefs’ middle linebacker Nick Bolton on Hurts’ second touchdown. It was a wonderfully designed play. Kelce sealed off Bolton, and left tackle Jordan Mailata turned and sealed off the inside, creating a causeway where Hurts went untouched.
On the Eagles’ fourth drive, on third-and-eight at the Eagles’ 35, Hurts made a great play by rolling away from the Kansas City rush and finding Zach Pascal for an eight-yard completion and an Eagles’ first down at the 44.
Javon Hargrave’s three-yard tackle from behind for loss on Chiefs’ tailback Isiah Pacheco at the Chiefs’ 22 on the first play of Kansas City’s second drive.
Hurts’ 45-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown on the first play of the second quarter. The Eagles had outscored their opponents by 116 points during the regular season, the third-highest in NFL history. They outscored their opponents by 21 points in the postseason. After the Hurts-to-Brown score, it was 28. Brown beat double-coverage down field, and Hurts placed the ball where only Brown could get it. It gave the Eagles a 14-7 lead with 14:52 left in the half.
Hurts’ seven-yard completion to Brown on the last play of the first quarter on a second-and-five that brought the ball to the Eagles’ 48. The Eagles had been struggling to that point, and that completion seemed to get them going again.
The Eagles’ opening drive. They traveled 75 yards over 11 plays, and absorbed 4:51 off the clock. It’s the 11th time the Eagles scored on their opening drive this season, with only one three-and-out. On the series, the Eagles had only two third downs, one converted on a Hurts-to-DeVonta Smith 6-yard completion on third-and-five at the Eagles’ 30, and the other a Kenneth Gainwell 3-yard run at the Kansas City four setting up Hurts’ one-yard sneak. Hurts was 4 of 5 on the drive for 54 yards, and Smith caught three passes on three targets for 41 yards.
With 2:32 left in the third quarter, Eagles’ coach Nick Sirianni was forced to use his first timeout when the Eagles could not get the play off on third-and-11 at the Chiefs’ 20.
The Eagles’ last drive of the first half. There was no sense of urgency in getting in and out of the huddle as they crossed midfield. The Eagles had a chance to put a dagger through the Chiefs and, instead, took the safe route, playing for the Jake Elliott 35-yard field goal when they could have gone up 28-14, squandering two timeouts with possession on the Chiefs’ side of the field.
The Eagles’ first quarter. The Chiefs were moving the ball at will, outgaining the Eagles, 112-92, in total yards, averaging 9.3 yards a play to the Eagles’ 5.4, and averaging 7.8 yards a rush to the Eagles’ 3.1. What was happening is that despite the general feeling the Eagles would have to keep the Chiefs off the field with the run, it was the pass that was more effective.
The Eagles’ first defensive drive. The Chiefs took six plays to tie the score—and made it look easy. The Eagles found out fast Mahomes wasn’t Brock Purdy or Daniel Jones. Kansas City did not have a third down. Mahomes shredded the Eagles’ defense completing two passes for 38 yards to Travis Kelce, including the game-tying score on an 18-yard over-the-shoulder completion with 6:57 to play.
Eagles’ safety Marcus Epps trying to cover Kelce on the 18-yard touchdown toss. Epps took a wrong angle, then got outmuscled by the perennial All-Pro tight end for his 16th postseason touchdown. Only Hall of Famer and all-time great Jerry Rice has more (22). The Chiefs wanted the Epps-on-Kelce matchup and got it.
Receiver Zach Pascal getting flagged for offensive pass interference on the Eagles’ second drive on first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 25. It pushed the Eagles back 10 yards and placed them at a severe disadvantage to start their second series.
Eagles’ defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh called for illegal use of hands on the Chiefs’ second drive. It gave Kansas City an automatic first down at the Chiefs’ 47. The Eagles were fortunate on the Chiefs’ second drive, after Mahomes and Kelce were effective again, Kansas City came away with nothing, when Butker’s 42-yard field goal attempt clanked off the left upright.
James Bradberry getting called for holding with 1:48 left to play, giving Kansas City a fresh set of downs—and essentially the game. Call it a ticky-tack call, call it anything you will, Bradberry did have his hands on JuJu Smith-Schuster. If you go back earlier in the game, on a third-and-eight on the Chiefs’ third drive, Bradberry may have gotten away with one by holding the jersey of Smith-Schuster. Mahomes’ pass was incomplete and no flag was thrown on that play, which forced Kansas City to punt. If the Eagles’ defense did its job in the second half, the Chiefs would not have been in that position in the first place.
The Eagles’ second-half defense. They allowed the Chiefs to score on all four possessions, gain 289 yards of total offense and giving Mahomes huge chunks of open space to find his receivers.
Leaving Skyy Moore completely alone in a blown coverage on Mahomes’ 4-yard TD toss. Moore was heading in motion, turned back and Avonte Maddox intended to go with him and realized Moore turned back. It was too late. Bradberry was closer to Moore, and never switched over. Instead, he stayed with Marquez Valdes-Scantling slanting inside. Maddox was too far to pick up Moore.
The Eagles’ special teams coverage on Kadarius Toney’s 65-yard fourth-quarter punt return. It looked like the entire return team was on one side of the field with no back coverage, giving a speedy talent like Toney a chance to turn the corner and get down field. It was the longest punt return in Super Bowl history.
The Eagles’ pass defense on the Chiefs’ second drive of the second half, when Mahomes chopped them up for six completions for 46 yards, including his second touchdown pass, a 5-yard TD toss to Toney for a 28-27 lead with 12:04 to play, the first time the Eagles trailed in the postseason.
With 6:13 left in the third quarter, the Eagles failing to get a substitution in and getting called with a delay of game at the Chiefs’ 47. It’s not something that should happen this late in the season—especially in the Super Bowl. It forced the Eagles into a third-and-14, and another Eagles’ substitution penalty gave Reid the opportunity to review Dallas Goedert’s 17-yard reception near the sideline that converted the third-and-14. The play was not overturned.
The Eagles’ defense on the Chiefs’ first second-half drive. Kansas City ran through the Eagles like they weren’t there. When it looked like the Eagles would take off and blow out Kansas City, Reid devised a great scheme to get the Chiefs back into the game, when they went 75 yards over 10 plays, which took up 5 minutes, 30 seconds off the clock. On a second-and-three at the Eagles’ 18, Mahomes scrambled 14 yards to the Eagles’ four setting up the score—and answering any questions about the star’s mobility.
Hurts’ one major flaw comes in the times when he tries to do too much, and he simply dropped the ball, literally, when Chiefs’ middle linebacker Nick Bolton scooped up the loose ball and went untouched for a 36-yard fumble recovery for a scoop-and-score in tying the game at 14-14 with 9:39 left in the half.
On third-and-1 at the Chiefs’ 47 on the Eagles’ fourth drive. Right guard Isaac Seumalo getting called for a false start, pushing the ball back to the Eagles’ 47 when it had been almost automatic when the Eagles were in third-and-short. The next play proved to be far uglier.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.