Super Bowl LVII featured two juggernauts: the number one seed from the National Football Conference, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the number one seed from the American Football Conference, the Kansas City Chiefs. On Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, the score was settled when the Eagles took on the Chiefs in one of the greatest Super Bowls in history.
On paper, the teams were mirror images of each other. The Chiefs and Eagles both had a 16-3 record coming into the game, tallied 546 points this season, had six All-Pro players apiece, and rostered a Kelce brother (Travis Kelce for the Chiefs and Jason Kelce for the Eagles). In the regular season, the Eagles were a defensive force, recording 70 sacks as a team, which is the third-most in a season in NFL history. Paving the way with sixteen, linebacker Haason Reddick was one of four Eagles players with eleven or more sacks in their regular season.
On offense, the Eagles had a potent attack led by star quarterback Jalen Hurts, who finished second in MVP voting, and two star receivers, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. On the other side, the Chiefs had the number one passing offense in the NFL, led by superstar quarterback and NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, and one of the greatest tight ends of all time, Travis Kelce. The Chiefs’ strong defense was highlighted by defensive linemen Frank Clark and Chris Jones, the latter of whom was PFF’s top-rated defensive player in football. The matchup was historical as well; it was the first-ever Super Bowl matchup featuring two Black starting QBs.
The Eagles were hoping to capture their second Super Bowl title five years after defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, whereas the Chiefs found themselves in their third Super Bowl in the last four years. For the Eagles organization, a Super Bowl win would cement the beginning of an exciting new chapter under Eagles mastermind general manager Howie Roseman, second-year head coach Nick Sirianni, and third-year star quarterback Jalen Hurts. For the Chiefs, a Super Bowl win would mean a Chiefs dynasty under head coach Andy Reid and QB Patrick Mahomes. The stage was set, and the game certainly delivered.
The Eagles stayed true to their identity as one of the best first-drive offenses in the league, scoring quickly on a one-yard Jalen Hurts rushing touchdown, which started the game 7-0. The Chiefs answered quickly, with Mahomes finding Travis Kelce for a twenty-yard completion at the start of the drive and another Mahomes-Kelce connection in the endzone, which tied the game at 7-7. The Eagles then pounced on a missed kick by Harrison Butker, and Hurts delivered a 45-yard strike to star wideout A.J. Brown.
After forcing another quick three-and-out, the Eagles were in a prime position to capitalize on their lead while on offense and up 14-7. But a rare offensive mistake by Hurts — and perhaps the lone offensive mistake in the first half — proved costly, as Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton picked up a fumble and took it 36 yards to the house, tying the game up at 14-14. The mistake did not rattle Hurts and the Eagles at all, who managed a 75-yard touchdown drive and another quick 40-yard field goal as time expired, which put the Eagles up 24-14 heading into the half.
The first half was undoubtedly an Eagles masterclass on both sides of the ball. The Eagles controlled the time of possession (leaving the Chiefs with just eight minutes on offense compared to the Eagles’ 22 minutes) with head coach Sirianni’s aggressive play-calling and the ever-so-trusty QB Sneak working wonders in short-yardage situations. ESPN Stats & Info reported that teams leading by double digits at halftime were 26-1 in Super Bowl history, with the only loss by the Falcons, who were up by 18 at halftime and later blew a 28-3 lead against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Despite concerns about Chiefs QB Mahomes and an “injured” ankle, which he seemed to reaggravate on the final drive of the half, most Eagles fans knew that the game wasn’t over. After all, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes had previously orchestrated a ten-point comeback against the 49ers to win Super Bowl LIV.
Unfortunately, after halftime, the Eagles simply had no answer for Mahomes’ magic. The Chiefs came out of halftime on fire and never relented. After an Isaiah Pacheco touchdown cut the Chiefs’ deficit to just three points, Hurts led a 17-play, 7:45 time drive with a 3rd and 14 and 4th and 1 conversion. But the Eagles had to settle for a field goal, and though they made it 27-21 Philly, it also meant the Chiefs could take the lead back with a touchdown. And much to the dismay of all Eagles fans, the Chiefs did just that; Mahomes connected with Kadarius Toney on a well-designed jet sweep motion that caught the Eagles’ secondary lacking. With just 12:04 left in the 4th quarter, the Eagles found themselves in their first deficit of the entire postseason.
After the next Eagles drive ended with a quick 3-and-out, Eagles punter Arryn Siposs’s low punt resulted in a 65-yard return by Chiefs wideout Kadarius Toney, the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. The Eagles’ momentum from the first half was all gone, and three plays later, Patrick Mahomes found rookie receiver Skyy Moore for his third passing touchdown of the night, and the Chiefs went up 35-27. Despite a great touchdown drive and a two-point conversion by Hurts that tied the game up at 35-35, the Eagles defense had no answer for a rolling Patrick Mahomes. Ultimately, a controversial holding penalty by Eagles cornerback James Bradberry essentially iced the game for the Chiefs. And despite prayers from all of Swarthmore, Philadelphia, and beyond for Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker to miss a 28-yard chip shot, his kick went right through the uprights to seal the win for the Chiefs, 38-35, over the Eagles.
And in the end, when a last-second heave by Hurts, who played remarkably well throughout the game, proved futile, the Kansas City Chiefs were the Super Bowl LVII Champions.
To go along with the Super Bowl trophy, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes was also named the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). These achievements cap one of the greatest five-year stretches in football history: since Mahomes took over as the starting Chiefs quarterback, he’s captured two regular season MVP awards, made five Pro Bowls, won two Super Bowl titles, and earned two Super Bowl MVPs. In those games, Mahomes joined legend Tom Brady as the only two quarterbacks to orchestrate multiple 10+ point comebacks in Super Bowl victories. Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning told TMZ prior to Super Bowl LVII that Mahomes had already done enough in his short five-year stint as a starter to already be considered a Hall of Famer.
On the other hand, the Philadelphia Eagles have nothing to be ashamed of. QB Jalen Hurts, who was benched in his previous championship game (the 2018 College Football Championship Game), orchestrated the greatest game of his football career. He threw for 304 yards and a touchdown on 27/38 passing, to go along with 70 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns. And although the Eagles lost, Hurts finished the season with a 15-2 record as a starter. In a season where the Eagles finished with the best record in the NFC and battled to the very end in the Super Bowl, it would be hard to find someone who considered this season a failure.
Hurts, who was arguably the best player on the field on Sunday, reflected on the game and mentioned that he learned a lot from the experience: “You either win or you learn. That’s how I feel. You either win or you learn. Win, lose, I always reflect on the things I could have done better, anything you could have done better to try and take that next step. That’ll be the same process I always have going on.”
Sirianni echoed the sentiment that the Eagles could only get better from the experience: “I just reminded them that all the things that we’ve went through in our lives was something that was adversity; that we will overcome this, too. Because the type of guys that we have in there — we will use this to motivate us. We will use this pain — will use this failure — to motivate us so we can make it a strength.”
For the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s been an incredible season and one that will undoubtedly leave their fans optimistic for the future.