Super Bowl LVII Recap
The Chiefs and their quarterback Patrick Mahomes won the Superbowl for the second time in four years, beating the favored Philadelphia Eagles, cementing Mahomes place in history as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.
For the 3rd time in 5 years, the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes made an appearance in the Superbowl, now winning 2 of those 3. Despite this being the most troubling offseason for the Chiefs since they drafted Patrick Mahomes, they still found a way to make it back. This offseason they traded their superstar wide receiver, Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins to avoid paying him. With the picks they got back, they used to trade up for Washington cornerback, Trent McDuffie. McDuffie was a clear help at a position of need and helped the Chiefs secondary not be a complete joke like it has been in years past. With their other first they took edge rusher from Purdue, George Karlaftis. With their 2nd round pick they took Western Michigan Wide Receiver Skyy Moore. Both of those 2 contributed down the stretch, George Karlaftis having a sack in their AFC Championship win vs the Bengals and Skyy Moore having a receiving touchdown in the Super Bowl.
With the money the Chiefs saved by not paying Tyreek Hill, they signed wide receivers JuJu Smith Schuster and Marquez Valdez-Scantling. In the Super Bowl, Smith Schuster had a productive night as he went for 7 catches for 53 yards. And Valdez-Scantling helped the Chiefs finally beat the Bengals in the AFC Championship game when he went for 6 catches, 116 yards, and 1 touchdown.
The way the Chiefs built their team was very “moneyball”-ish. They traded Tyreek Hill to save money and with that money they saved, they got Tyreek Hill production from 2 of their receivers at more than half the cost. Their two-time super bowl winning squad could change the way NFL teams build their teams for the foreseeable future.
On the other side of the spectrum there are the Philadelphia Eagles – who suffered a heartbreaking loss after an amazing season. Two years ago, the Eagles won four games. They went into that offseason with the 6th overall pick in the draft and no head coach. That offseason they hired now head coach Nick Sirianni from Indianapolis. They traded back in the draft to take Heisman trophy winning receiver Devonta Smith. And they traded former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, so they could have young Jalen Hurts as their Quarterback. Going into the 2021 season they were supposed to be equally as bad as 2020. They shocked everyone and won nine games and made the playoffs.
This set up the Eagles perfectly for the future as they had a young franchise Quarterback on his rookie deal and all their young talent showing up. General Manager Howie Roseman knew that a couple of moves could get them to the Super Bowl. Those couple of moves were acquiring star wide receiver A.J. Brown from the Titans, signing free agent Cornerback James Bradberry, free agent Edge rusher Hassan Reddick, and drafting Defensive tackle Jordan Davis. Howie Roseman hit the jackpot with these moves as each and everyone one of them contributed heavily at some point during the season. And despite making their 2nd Super Bowl in 5 years, they did not go down the same path to get there as the Chiefs, in fact you could say they went down quite the opposite path.
Despite the fact that the Chiefs and Eagles had polar opposite team-building philosophies, both made the Superbowl. And it was one of the greatest Super Bowls ever.
Quarter 1: The eagles opened with a perfect opening drive. 11 plays, 75 yards, and a touchdown. 6 of those plays were first downs/touchdowns. That isn’t anything new for the Eagles though, in all 3 of their playoff games they had an opening drive touchdown. They went 75 yards vs the Giants, 66 yards vs the 49ers, and 75 again vs the Chiefs. They are the first team to score a touchdown on their opening possession in 3 straight playoff games since 1991. 7-0 Eagles. The Chiefs respond with a 75 yard touchdown drive of their own. This one was 6 plays and ended with a 18 yard Travis Kelce touchdown. That pushed Kelce to 2nd all time in the playoffs receiving touchdowns with 16. He surpassed future Hall of Fame Patriots Tight end, Rob Gronkowski and now trails only NFL icon, Jerry Rice who has 22 playoff touchdowns. The game is tied at 7-7. The Chiefs get a stop on the Eagles and force a punt. The Chiefs got the ball and were driving down the field. They got into field goal range and have a reliable kicker in Harrison Butker. The attempt was 42 yards and Butker has a career 85% field goal percentage from 40-49 yards. However, despite being one of the more accurate kickers in NFL history, he missed the field goal off the left upright. The score stays 7-7.
Quarter 2: On the first play of the 1st quarter, Jalen Hurts throws a deep shot to A.J. Brown and trusts him to go up and get it. And A.J. Brown does, he catches it in the endzone for a 45 yard touchdown. This has been a common theme all year as Jalen Hurts has the 3rd most pass completions that have traveled 40 yards in air. Another common theme with this Eagles team is that they are explosive in the 2nd quarter. They lead the league in average points scored in the 2nd quarter all year with 12.6 points per 2nd quarter. To put that into perspective the highest average of points in the 1st quarter this year was 6.3 points by the Detroit Lions. That touchdown makes the score 14-7 in favor of the Eagles. The Chiefs get the ball back and can’t get anything back giving the Eagles the ball back. The Eagles run a basic quarterback draw play with Jalen Hurts which has been pretty successful for them all year. But this time, not so much. Jalen Hurts just drops the ball and it is recovered for a touchdown by Chiefs leading tackler, Nick Bolton. The game is tied back up at 14. Most teams after a catastrophic play like that, wouldn’t go back to that same play. But the very next Eagles drive, they ran the quarterback draw multiple times. Even on a 4th & 5 near midfield, Eagles Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen trusted his quarterback and ran said play. The Eagles converted that risky 4th down, and would later go on to score that drive via a Jalen Hurts rushing touchdown. The Eagles lead 21-14. The Eagles would get one more chance before the half to go down and get some points. They were driving and got into the red zone with a Devonta Smith catch but after review it was controversially overturned. That didn’t stop the Eagles though as they got back near the red zone and kicked a field goal right before the half. That increased their lead to 24-14 going into halftime. But near the end of the Chiefs final possession of the half, Patrick Mahomes re-aggravated a high ankle injury he suffered 3 weeks prior in their divisional round matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. While playing on such a serious injury, then hurting it again, you automatically assume he would be limited or even benched for the remainder of the game.
Quarter 3: Patrick Mahomes, of course, stays in the game and they start the second half off on the right foot. They drive down the field and get inside the 1. With an Isiah Pacheco touchdown the Chiefs cut the Eagles lead down to 3. 24-21. The Eagles now have the ball again and look to respond and keep increasing their lead. But on a simple swing pass to running back Miles Sanders, some more controversy struck. The ruling on the field was that Sanders caught the ball, then fumbled, recovered by the Chiefs and returned for a touchdown. But once again after further review the call was overturned. The officials said it was an incomplete pass and that the Eagles would retain possession. The video shows Sanders catching the ball, having 2 feet down, and turning ninety degrees (which constitutes a “football” move, which is what is needed for a pass to be ruled complete) All that means is that the call on the field should’ve stayed the same and the Chiefs should’ve been awarded the touchdown. This wouldn’t be the last of the controversial refereeing. The Eagles couldn’t take advantage of that break however, and gave the Chiefs the ball back.
Quarter 4: While only being down 6, this was probably the most important drive of the game. Patrick Mahomes orchestrated a great drive with 6 completions for 46 yards. One of those completions being a 5 yard touchdown to Kadarious Toney, who they acquired from the New York Giants via a midseason trade. Andy Reid called the perfect play here that left Toney wide open. 28-27 Chiefs. The Eagles have been beaten by a playcall similar to that multiple times this season dating all the way back to their week four matchup versus the Jaguars. The head coach of the Jaguars, Doug Pederson, may have helped the Chiefs beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl by exposing one of the Eagles’ weaknesses. That is ironic since Pederson was the previous head coach of the Eagles and even led them to their lone Superbowl victory. With the ball back and a desperate need to get back on the board, the Eagles went 3 and out and punted. On that punt return history was made. Kadarious Toney, the punt returner for the Chiefs, ran back the punt all the way to the 5 yard line. The 65 yard punt return was the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. That set the Chiefs up perfectly, only needing 5 yards to increase their lead. The Chiefs ran a near identical play to the Toney touchdown from earlier, this one going to Skyy Moore for another touchdown. 35-27 Chiefs. The Eagles get the ball back with 9 minutes left down 8. Later that drive, with 6 minutes left in the game, Jalen Hurts throws it deep to a wide open Devonta Smith and he catches it for 45 yards. A better thrown ball could’ve led Smith to a walk-in touchdown but they sure weren’t mad about 45 yards. They also weren’t mad when Jalen Hurts snuck in for a touchdown. But since they were down 8, and chewed a lot of the clock on that drive, they had to go for a two-point conversion. They put the ball in Hurts’ hands again and he went in, converting the two-point conversion. The game is all tied at 35 with 5 minutes left. Had the Eagles won that would’ve been viewed as the clutchest and gutsiest play of the entire season. But Patrick Mahomes did something more clutch and gutsy the very next possession. With a little under 3 minutes left in a tied game in the Super Bowl, an injured Mahomes ran for 26 yards putting the Chiefs in the red zone. With that much time left and how close the Chiefs are, all the Eagles can hope for is a Chiefs mistake or just to be able to get the ball back with enough time. And it was looking good for the Eagles to be able to get the ball back with a chance to score. Then the most controversial play of the game happens. JuJu Smith Schuster was running a double move, and when the route broke upwards, Eagles cornerback James Bradberry was called for a holding. The holding penalty gave the Chiefs a new set of downs and essentially allowed the Chiefs to run the clock all the way down to the end. Many agree that it was a hold, but it was too big of a moment to call such a minuscule penalty. “It was a holding… I tugged his jersey, I was hoping they would let it slide,” Bradberry himself said after the game. The Chiefs did run out the clock and kicked the game-winning field goal. Butker was good from 27 yards and the Chiefs won 38-35.
Takeaways: After the game, Patrick Mahomes was awarded the Super Bowl MVP. At age 27, Mahomes has two Super Bowl wins, Super Bowl MVPs, two regular season MVPs, two first team all-pro selections, and one offensive player of the year award. Mahomes has built one of the greatest resumes in football history even if you forget about his age. Then you factor in that he is only 27 years old and we are talking about him being on pace to be the future greatest football player the world has ever seen. On an injured ankle, Mahomes went out and came back from 10+ points against an Eagles team that only lost once all year when Jalen Hurts was the quarterback. Mahomes is 14-9 when losing by 10 or more points. The Chiefs are more likely to win the game when losing by 10 or more when Mahomes is the quarterback. Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman has a career 56.9% winning percentage. Mahomes wins 58.3% of the games that he trails by double digits in. Mahomes is on track to be the GOAT and already has one the most impressive resumes in American sports history.