With the NFL season coming to a close the league’s top two teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, had the opportunity to face off in Super Bowl 57 at State Farm Stadium in Arizona on Sunday. The Chiefs, who had been to the Super Bowl only two years prior, returned to the big game on the back of an MVP award season from quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The 27-year-old shot-caller was instrumental in leading Kansas City’s group back to the last game of the NFL season, this time facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles. Third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts has only improved every year since coming into the league as the number 53 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, most recently winning the Bert Bell Award as the league’s best player.
From the opening kick, it was evident that the contest was to be a high-scoring affair. Though the Chiefs won the coin toss, they decided to defer and kick off to start the game in order to receive the ball at halftime. Hurts trotted out to lead the Eagle offense under the jurisdiction of offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and after an 11-play drive was able to find the endzone by sneaking it in himself from the 1-yard line. This was rumored to be Steichen’s last game as coordinator, with reports linking him to the vacant head coaching position in Indianapolis with the Colts.
Mahomes made light work of the Eagles’ defense when he was given his first shot though, orchestrating a drive to the endzone in less than four minutes. He was able to connect with his favorite target, tight end Travis Kelce, to tie it up at seven. The score remained that way through the end of the first quarter, though Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker sent a 42-yard field goal off of the left upright, failing to give his side the advantage. Only eight seconds into the following quarter the Eagles roared to life, making the most of the gift-wrapped miss.
Burning Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie, former Titans wide receiver AJ Brown got into empty space in the endzone and hauled in a 45-yard touchdown catch. The first of his six catches on the night put the score at 14-7 and helped an already-rolling Eagles squad gather even more momentum less than a minute into the second quarter. That direction of play came to an unexpected and screeching halt on the Eagles’ next offensive possession at the hands of Hurts himself, though.
On a third-down scramble, Hurts had the ball knocked from his hands before it was scooped up and ran in by Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton. The fumble six was a morale killer and knotted the score back up at 14 just when it seemed like Philadelphia was ready to run away with the game. Head coach Nick Sirianni’s Eagles didn’t roll over though and charged downfield before Hurts could scramble in for a 4-yard score on the ensuing drive, his second of the night. Kicker Jake Elliott was able to tack on a 35-yard field goal as time expired to end the first half, giving the Eagles their biggest lead of the night at 24-14.
Rihanna did one of the many things she does best with her halftime performance, bringing the house down while she was raised and lowered over the field across various platforms, all the while performing her most notable hits. RiRi’s white-clad dancers practically morphed into red-and-white-clad Chiefs players once the show concluded, with Kansas City receiving the second-half kickoff.
As Chiefs head coach Andy Reid had been doing all game, the former Eagles man gave the keys back to Mahomes, allowing the league’s best player to shine. In a five-and-a-half minute drive capped off by an Isaiah Pacheco touchdown, the Chiefs continued to show resilience after an anxious 10-play sequence that tracked 75 yards, closing the score to within a field goal at 24-21.
Elliott managed to convert another field goal, this time from 33 yards out with just under two minutes to play in the third quarter. The Birds carried a 27-21 lead into the fourth quarter and needed to come up big on defense in order to preserve their Super Bowl dreams. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney decided to turn the game upside-down.
The formerly disgraced New York Giants wide receiver was traded to the Chiefs midseason in a head-scratching move that saw the Giants only earn back a third and sixth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Toney has been a revelation since arriving in KC, carving out a role as a complement to Travis Kelce’s catching abilities at tight end and accompanying JuJu Smith-Schuster and Skyy Moore along the slot.
In under five minutes after Elliott’s field goal, the Chiefs drove down the field and were able to set Mahomes and the rest of the offense up on the 9-yard line. Toney, who was lined up facing Philadelphia corner Darius Slay, faked as if he were running across the field before the ball was snapped and completely fooled Slay. The move allowed Toney to breach the endzone untouched, and haul in a go-ahead score with 12 minutes to go.
The Chiefs were able to force a three-and-out on the Eagles’ next offensive possession, setting up Toney for yet another highlight moment. Having received the punt at his own 30-yard line, Toney danced his way to the sideline before sprinting 65 yards to the Eagles’ 5-yard line, rejuvenating Kansas City during a crucial sequence. The monumental return was the longest in Super Bowl history, and absolutely felt that way on film.
Only needing three plays from scrimmage, Mahomes found Moore in the back corner of the endzone to extend his side’s lead to 35-27 following Butker’s extra point.
Philadelphia still had some fight left though, fighting downfield on another clinical 8-play drive with Hurts running in his third touchdown of the night, tying legendary Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis’ league record in the 1998 Super Bowl. Hurts also managed to pass Tennessee Titans icon Steve McNair’s record of 64 rushing yards by a QB in a Super Bowl by posting 70, which he succeeded in doing on only the play beforehand.
Needing a two-point conversion to tie the game at 35, Hurts took over the game and trucked his way across the goal line to ensure the Eagles had a fighting chance, and tied the score up with just over five minutes to play in regulation. The Eagles defended fervently, exhausting all possible avenues to try and halt the Chiefs from reaching a distance from which they could run the clock out. With the ball on the Eagles’ 16-yard line and the Chiefs facing a third-and-eight situation, all the Eagles needed was a stop. If successful, they’d have the ball back following the most likely outcome which was a Chiefs field goal from in close, and a minute and a half to play with.
Mahomes dropped back and threw a ball out of bounds in the corner of the endzone, but a slight grab from Eagles cornerback James Bradberry along Smith-Schuster’s ribs was enough for a penalty and a reset of downs. With the Eagles having only one timeout, the Chiefs were able to comfortably drain the clock down to eleven seconds to play. Butker stepped up and was able to remedy his earlier blunder, as he perfectly split the uprights and delivered KC a go-ahead field goal.
The Eagles did have one final chance on a Hail Mary toss by Hurts, but the prayer came up woefully short. With that, the Kansas City Chiefs managed to win their second Super Bowl in franchise history 38-35. Fighting through a severe high-ankle sprain throughout a majority of the second half of the playoffs, Patrick Mahomes’ heroics were more than enough to award him the Super Bowl MVP award to pair with his regular-season prize as well.