The 2022-23 NFL season ended in a bang with a high scoring Super Bowl matchup in which the Kansas City Chiefs overcame the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in a game down to the wire.
The Chiefs won the toss and elected to defer, and on the first drive of the game Jalen Hurts and the Eagles led a 75 yard drive down to the goal line that ended in a touchdown from Jalen Hurts on a quarterback sneak. The Eagles have been dominant in the QB sneak all season, recording an NFL record: 31 first downs of the play. No team has ever exceeded 20 first downs off of the sneak. Kansas City and their star studded offense was able to respond with a touchdown drive ending in an 18-yard fade route touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce from quarterback Patrick Mahomes. To anybody familiar with Kelce’s game this was no surprise as he has recorded a touchdown in 16 of his 18 playoff games. The first quarter ended 7-7 shortly after Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker missed a 42-yard attempt off of the right upright.
On the first play of the second quarter, Jalen Hurts uncorked a deep ball off of a play-action to wide receiver A.J. Brown on a deep corner route for six. Brown, who was in double coverage between a Kansas City corner-back and safety, was able to track and adjust to the ball towards the side of the endzone. After a short lived Chiefs offensive drive, the Birds offense took control again. On a 3rd and 6 from midfield, Jalen Hurts took off for a quarterback run but the Chiefs were all over it. Linebacker Nick Bolton scooped up a fumble from Hurts and took it to the house for a scoop and score, equalizing the game at 14.
“I thought it was a critical turning point in the game,” says senior Mason Hope. “I think if the Eagles got a touchdown that drive, the game would have been over.”
With a total of six rushing fumbles on the season, ball security has been a bit of an issue for Hurts. Hurts led the NFL in quarterback rushing attempts, which goes to show that dual threat quarterbacks come with a consequence.
It didn’t take long for Hurts or the Eagles to bounce back. On the next drive Hurts converted a 4th and 5 from midfield with his legs to get the Birds in the red zone. On first down from the 4-yard line Hurts ran between a hole paved by his pulling center Jason Kelce, untouched for his second rushing touchdown of the game, putting the Eagles up 21-14, just above 2 minutes to go in the half. The half would shortly end with an Eagles field goal, making the score 24-14 at the break.
After Rihanna shone bright like a diamond, Mahomes came out for the Chiefs first drive of the half with an impressive ground and air attack. The drive ended with the Chiefs running a power run play to rookie running back Isiah Pacheco for a 1-yard touchdown. On the following drive, the Eagles were able to extend their lead to 27-21 with a Jake Elliot field goal in the red zone.
In the opening moments of the fourth quarter, the Chiefs orchestrated another great drive in which Mahomes and wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster were automatic to each other. The drive ended on a 3rd and 3 play that had wide receiver Kadarius Toney motion into a stack with Travis Kelce in the slot, and then immediately go back out to the flat in rhythm with the snap for a wide open, walk-in touchdown for Toney. A great play design from the Chiefs coaching staff that completely confused the Eagles secondary. For the first time in the game the Chiefs would jump out to a lead, at 28-27.
The Eagles got the ball back but amounted to nothing offensively and were forced to punt from their own 32-yard line. Kadarius Toney caught the punt at his own 30-yard line and made a few Eagles miss tackles before hitting a cut to the other side of the field where an entourage of Chiefs blockers were able to escort him all the way down to the Eagles 5-yard line. The 65-yard return broke the record for longest punt return in Super Bowl history, and was 5 yards away from being the only punt return touchdown in Super Bowl history.
Three plays later the Chiefs would run the same route concept they scored on with Toney, but with rookie wide receiver Skyy Moore, just on the other side of the field. Again the Eagles secondary was not able to communicate through the motion and Moore was uncovered for a walk in touchdown. Horrible defensive coaching and communication was leading to their downfall, as the Chiefs extended their lead to 35-27 with 9 minutes to play.
There was still a lot of game to play and on the next drive, Jalen Hurts let another deep pass fly from midfield to wide receiver DeVonta Smith. With just about 5 minutes left, this pass led the Eagles down to the 2-yard line where Hurts was able to pound in another quarterback sneak, cutting the Chiefs lead down to two. With three rushing touchdowns, Hurts broke the Super Bowl record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and tied the overall record with Denver running back Terrell Davis. Hurts would again run to the outside for the 2-point conversion. Hurts was playing fantastic on the ground and the air totaling 374 total yards and 4 touchdowns.
With the game being tied at 5 minutes, the game was put in the hands of Patrick Mahomes. On this game winning drive, Mahomes was able to show the NFL world why he is the MVP, and drove the Chiefs all the way down to the red zone at the two minute warning. On 3rd and 8 from the 15-yard line with 1:53 remaining, receiver Juju Smith-Schuster ran a whip route into a cut up the field towards the corner of the end zone. Mahomes threw the ball in the direction of Juju but the pass fell well incomplete. Eagles cornerback James Bradberry was called for a holding call on Juju when he was cutting back to the outside on the whip route. Controversy struck over the call on whether the ref should have thrown the flag or not, bearing the hold was not obvious and the call basically decided the game.
“Me personally, I don’t think the flag should have been thrown,” says sophomore Brady Floramo. “But that may be my bias because I wanted the Eagles to win.”
The Chiefs would go on to milk the clock all the way down to 11 seconds and kick a chip shot, 27-yard field goal to go up 38-35.
After a failed attempt at a final play hail mary, the Kansas City Chiefs were crowned Super Bowl Champions for the third time. Patrick Mahomes was named the Super Bowl MVP and with that became a 2-time Super Bowl Champion and 2-time Super Bowl MVP.