Updated: Feb 20
By: OSCAR FOCK / CHIEF NEWS EDITOR
35-35 on the scoreboard. First-and-10 from the Philadelphia Eagles’ 43-yard line, with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter of the biggest game in American sports. Patrick Mahomes snaps the ball with four seconds left on the play clock. He looks left. He looks right. The Eagles’ five-man rush is closing in. Mahomes steps up the pocket — and runs. A quick glance behind his right shoulder; Philadelphia edge rusher Haason Reddick is not close enough to catch him. On a bum ankle, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback scrambles into the red zone before sliding down at the 17-yard line. The Chiefs are in field goal range.
It doesn’t get any better than this, does it? A few plays later, the Chiefs kicked the game-winning field goal with 11 seconds left to bring the Vince Lombardi trophy home to Kansas City, Missouri.
While Eagles fans will mourn this brutal loss, for neutral spectators, Super Bowl 57 was just as spectacular as had been promised.
Leading up to the game, the key to victory seemed to lie in the trenches: to have a shot, the Kansas City offensive line would need to hold up against a Philly pass-rush that had racked up 70 sacks in the regular season (most in the NFL). If the Eagles’ front could get pressure on the opposing quarterback, then Philadelphia would be in great shape.
This battle was especially crucial, given that Mahomes — who was named the MVP at the NFL Honors on Thursday, Feb. 9 — would be playing injured. In the divisional round against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain, an injury that usually takes four to six weeks to heal. Yet, he played through the injury one week later in the AFC Championship game, and now had to do it again.
Still, much pointed to a shootout. After all, the two sides facing off were the two highest-scoring teams in the league this year..
And that is what we got.
On the opening drive, the Eagles marched down the field, led by their own superstar signal caller, Jalen Hurts. Despite nursing an injury of his own — a shoulder sprain on his throwing shoulder — he seemed completely unbothered (by both the injury and the magnitude of the moment) and passed and ran his team down to the 1-yard line, before sneaking it in himself for the game’s first touchdown.
Kansas City responded immediately with a touchdown of their own, after Mahomes connected with his best pal, tight end Travis Kelce for an 18-yard score.
After a Philly punt, the Chiefs drove the ball down the field to the opposing 24-yard line, where they stalled on third-and-3. But then, for the first time of many in this game, the grass in State Farm Stadium reared its ugly head. Harrison Butker, the kicker, slipped as he planted his left foot and doinked the ball off the upright.
Slipping became a recurring issue throughout the game, making the NFL’s decision to spend two years and $800,000 on preparing it, even more questionable.
But the offensive heavyweight bout continued in the second quarter. Another Chiefs touchdown was bookended by Philadelphia touchdowns, making the score 14-21 with a little over two minutes left in the first half.
Then, disaster struck for Kansas City. With 1:44 left, Mahomes tried to scramble for a new set of downs on third-and-long, but as he was tackled, his right —already injured — ankle got caught in an awkward angle. He was clearly in pain as he hobbled off the field. Watching from the sidelines, having his aggravated ankle sprain tended to, he then had to watch Jalen Hurts lead his team to another three points before halftime.
The lead could have been bigger, however, had the officials not overturned an impressive 35-yard near-catch by wide receiver Devonta Smith a few plays before the field goal. Smith made an incredible adjustment and seemed to have the football secured, but replays showed that he may have lost control momentarily as he hit the ground, leading to the play being reversed.
So, 14-24 at the half in favor of the team from the city of brotherly love. Given what had transpired the first 30 minutes of the game, the lead was well-deserved. The Eagles controlled time of possession throughout the half, and the offense seemed unstoppable. Further, the defense had managed to force a couple of punts, and despite not getting any sacks, appeared mostly in control of the proceedings.
While the players rested up in the locker rooms, Rihanna made her return to the stage with a performance of the ages. Showing off her baby bump, the medley of her greatest hits also served as a pregnancy reveal, confirmed a representative after the show.
Mahomes was probably thrilled about the extended halftime break, which gave him precious extra minutes to treat his hurting ankle, as when the Kansas City offense stepped out for their first drive of the third quarter, the MVP was out there. And, indicative of his greatness, he was even better than before.
The Chiefs put on an offensive clinic in the second half. On four drives, they reached the end zone three times and scored the game-winning field goal on the fourth. Head Coach Andy Reid was in his bag, fooling the previously sound Eagles defense repeatedly with motion and fakes. The third touchdown of the half, set up by a long punt return by Kadarius Toney, gave the Chiefs the lead 35-27 with under 10 minutes left in the game.
But on the other side, Hurts was unfazed by the swing of momentum. In just over four minutes, he used his arm and his legs to guide his team down to the Chiefs 2-yard line. Standing in shotgun, he then took the snap and ran it past the goal line himself. He, quite literally, put his team on his back again on the two-point conversion when he a second time used his legs to get into the endzone to tie the game.
But then Mahomes still had five minutes to answer. And those that have watched the future Hall-of-Famer in the past, know that five minutes is plenty enough.
And so, we’re back at the Eagles 43-yard line with 2:55 left. Now, Patrick Mahomes has many qualities. He can make every throw, he processes the game faster than anyone in the league today, and he is an escape artist in the pocket. In this case, he pulled out one of his more underrated skills: his scrambling ability. On an injured ankle, he ran away from defenders to put his team in pole position near the finish line.
The Eagles had one chance left, however. With just under two minutes left, the Chiefs were facing third-and-8. First down, and the game is essentially over. But if the Eagles could just get the stop, they would have a chance for a final drive. Mahomes dropped back to throw and lofted it toward wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the back of the end zone. The ball was overthrown and fell incomplete. But the officials, again in a crucial moment, had thrown a flag in favor of the Chiefs. A ticky-tack call for defensive holding on cornerback James Bradberry IV gave Kansas City an automatic first down. A few plays later, Butker kicked the field goal that won the game.
Philly got one last play in, but the hail mary fell way short. The Kansas City Chiefs had won their third Super Bowl.