Named the MVP of the National Football League for the second time to start the weekend, Patrick Mahomes took home his second Super Bowl MVP award after guiding the Kansas City Chiefs to a 38-35 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night in Arizona playing on a bum ankle that got tweaked just before halftime.
Trailing by 10 points at the half as the teams headed to the locker room, Mahomes was able to gut it out to help the Chiefs win their second NFL title in four years and overcome a stellar effort from Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts, who rushed for three touchdowns and a two-point conversion that tied the game with 5:15 left on the clock.
Moving around the pocket better than it appeared Philly seemed to expect, Mahomes scrambled for 26 yards on the go-ahead drive and completed three passes before a critical third down at the Eagles’ 15-yard line with a little less than two minutes remaining on the clock. That play was a disaster for Philadelphia, seemingly undeserved, as a defensive holding call on cornerback James Bradberry gave Kansas City a first down and allowed the Chiefs to run down the clock before Harrison Butker kicked a 27-yard field goal with eight seconds left.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why the Eagles, who outgained the Chiefs 417-340 in total yardage and held the ball for more than 10 minutes longer than Kansas City (35:47-24:13), were not able to hold on in the second half against a hobbled Mahomes, but the most obvious reason is that they were probably not aggressive enough on defense. Facing a quarterback who was literally playing on his last leg (er, ankle), the Eagles played not to lose the game instead of to win it.
The Eagles, who led the NFL with 70 sacks during the regular season, failed to sack Mahomes once during Super Bowl LVII, and that lack of pressure was likely the biggest reason why Philadelphia lost on Sunday night. Ironically, the last time a team didn’t record a sack in the Super Bowl was when the Patriots failed to sack Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles as the Eagles upset New England just five years ago.
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For all that the Eagles did well on their way to notching the best record in the NFC and a berth in the Super Bowl, they just weren’t able to put it together in the season’s biggest game and seemed to relax a little bit leading by 10 to start the second half. Instead of putting pressure on Mahomes, the Eagles played zone and were picked apart by both the run and the pass, methodically. The penalty call on Philadelphia at the end of the game was poor, but it didn’t cost them the game as the Chiefs still would have had an opportunity to score even with the flag. And they would’ve, as Kansas City didn’t punt in the second half and got points every time they had the ball, their wide receivers running largely uncovered for the final 30 minutes on Sunday. For a three-point game, it didn’t seem close in the second half — (bad) penalty or no (bad) penalty.
While the numbers for Mahomes (21-of-27 for 182 yards and three touchdowns and six rushes for 44 yards) don’t exactly jump off the page by his standards, he was a steadying presence on Sunday night and didn’t commit a turnover for the first time in three Super Bowl appearances. Had the Eagles and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon been more aggressive, that may not have been the case as the Chiefs appeared to be teetering at halftime. But, with Mahomes at the helm in the second half, nothing pushed Kansas City over the brink and they’re the champs because of it.
“I thought guys just embraced the moment,” Mahomes said about rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit. “In that first half, we were playing and doing some good stuff, but I felt like the guys were getting consumed by everything around us. It took everybody to win the game.”
And it took Philly’s defense relaxing with a 10-point lead to lose it. That’s why the Eagles lost Super Bowl LVII.