By Terrance Turner
Today is the day.
After months of anticipation, today finally brought football fans what they’d been waiting for. Millions of fans packed out the stadium in Arizona and gathered around their TVs at home, around the world, for Super Bowl 57. Inside State Farm Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles faced off in the biggest sports event of the year. The game was distinguished by its historic nature: this was the first time in history that two Black quarterbacks have started a Super Bowl. And both quarterbacks played gamely, lifting their team to top-tier performances.
It really was a tale of two halves: after a tied game early on, the Eagles took a commanding lead — powered largely by quarterback Jalen Hurts. And after Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes re-aggravated his ankle injury, it looked like the Eagles might prevail. But Kansas City came roaring back in the second half, scoring three touchdowns on three straight possessions and adding a game-sealing field goal.
The Chiefs won the coin toss. But they deferred, meaning that the Eagles would be the first to have their offense take the field. The Eagles opened the proceedings with yet another touchdown. (They’ve scored touchdowns on nearly every opening drive this year.) They took the lead within less than five minutes of the opening kickoff.
Kenneth Gainewell carried the ball near the end zone for what looked like a touchdown. But he fell near the goal line. Video replay showed that when his elbow hit the ground, the ball was short of the goal line. So the touchdown was overturned.
So the Eagles settled for a quarterback sneak. And Jalen Hurts, who has been nearly unstoppable on sneaks this season, snuck in for the touchdown.
The Chiefs responded with a touchdown drive of their own. And it took just three minutes. Mahomes hit tight end Travis Kelce for 20 yards on one play and later threw an 18-yard strike to Kelce for the touchdown.
The Kansas City defense forced a three-and-out for the Eagles. But the Chiefs came up empty on their drive, after kicker Harrison Butker missed a field goal. But Philadelphia took the lead after receiver A.J. Brown caught a 45-yard touchdown reception. Breaking away from rookie Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie, Brown freed himself to catch Hurts’s pass in the end zone.
The Eagles went up 14-7 in the second quarter. Then the Philly defense forced KC’s offense into a quick three-and-out.
The Chiefs punted. The Eagles got the ball back. But a false start cost them five yards, putting them on 3rd and 6. Then Jalen Hurts fumbled the ball. (It appeared to simply fall out of his hands.) Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton scooped up the ball and returned it for 36 yards into the end zone.
Kansas City tied the game at 14. But Philly answered right back. They launched a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took seven minutes off the clock. Hurts extended the drive by rushing for 28 yards on fourth down. Later, the Eagles converted another fourth-down by drawing the Chiefs offside. On 4th & 2, a KC defender lined up in the neutral zone, drawing a penalty flag.
That flag gave Philadelphia a first down, and Hurts rushed for a touchdown on the very next play.
On 3rd down, Mahomes scrambled. But Philadelphia linebacker T.J. Edwards tackled him, re-injuring his right ankle. (Mahomes suffered a high-ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game. The tackle aggravated a still-healing injury.) Edwards’ tackle made it fourth down — and stopped the quarterback in his tracks.
Mahomes stayed down afterward, scooting up on all fours while on the field. Visibly pained, he started limping to the sideline.
The drive stalled on fourth down. The Chiefs had to punt.
Catch or No Catch???
The Eagles took over as the first half wound down. Hurts threw to Gainewell for nine yards. Then he threw to wide receiver DeVonta Smith. And Smith used his helmet to secure the catch as he crashed to the ground.
Smith’s 35-yard catch was reviewed by officials in a process that took several minutes. The FOX broadcast showed the play from almost every angle. Video replay review showed slippage of the ball upon impact. Refs reversed the call.
This overturned call placed Philly back with just seconds to spare. Kicker Jake Elliott kicked a 35-yard field goal to give the Eagles a ten-point lead. Philadelphia led Kansas City 24-14 at the half.
The Chiefs got the ball to start the second half. Mahomes handed the ball off several times to begin the drive. Subsequently, he completed an 11-yard throw to Kelce and then hit tight end Justin Watson for another 12 yards. Following that play, Mahomes surprised fans by scrambling 14 yards into the red zone. Then Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco rushed a yard for the touchdown.
Philadelphia responded with a field goal. Elliott was good from 33 with 1:45 left to go. Kansas City regained possession after kickoff. Pacheco crossed midfield on an 11-yard run. But the Eagles still led the Chiefs by three at the end of the third quarter.
The Chiefs began the fourth quarter in the midst of a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Mahomes completed two first-down passes to wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuester. The first one went for 14 yards. And then, after refs blew a play dead (Philly’s Josh Sweatt got flagged for defensive holding), Mahomes threw to Juju for 13 yards. Then they connected again, for a three-yard gain. Eventually, he tossed to wide-open receiver Kadarius Toney for a TD.
Kansas City Chiefs Kadarius Toney (19) in action, scores a touchdown vs Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium. Glendale, AZ 2/12/2023 CREDIT: Erick W. Rasco (Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
Afterward, the Chiefs defense forced an Eagles three-and-out. (Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay chased Hurts down, forcing him to throw the ball away.) Then Eagles punter Arryn Siposs kicked the ball right into the hands of a Chiefs returner.
Kadarius Toney caught a low snap and ran…and ran…and ran. After first running into a wall of Eagles defenders, he reversed course and ran the other way, going down the opposite sideline. The defense couldn’t catch up with him. And one defender slung him down near the five-yard line. Toney went 65 yards for the longest punt return in Super Bowl history.
Toney’s fabulous run brought the Chiefs to first and goal. Now they were in prime position to score. Coach Andy Reid brought back an old favorite from the regular season. Once again, the Chiefs offense aimed to throw off the defense with another game of ring around the rosie:
This time, the Eagles defense blew up the play. But on second and goal, Mahomes outsmarted them by throwing to a wide-open Skyy Moore:
Eagles Fight Back
How would the Eagles respond? Quickly. Hurts dazzled onlookers with a stellar throw to Devonta Smith:
Hurts made the catch and then stepped out of bounds just short of the end zone. Hurts took over and rushed in for the touchdown. It’s his third rushing touchdown of the game — the most ever by a quarterback in a Super Bowl
Then Hurts ran in for a two-point conversion;
The Eagles tied the game at 35.
What happened next altered the course of the entire game — and of sports history.
With the score tied at 35, Kansas City launched its final drive. Mahomes handed the ball off to Isiah Pacheco, who got smoked by Eagles cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Gardner-Johnson drove his helmet into the shoulder/chest of Pacheco, who was wounded after the play. Subsequently, Mahomes threw to Smith-Schuester, and he too got upended by Gardner-Johnson.
The defense managed to contain the run, but they couldn’t contain Mahomes. Despite his bad ankle, he broke free and scrambled for 26 yards, putting the Chiefs in field goal range with just 4:42 left to play. Several plays later, on 3rd and 8, he threw incomplete to Smith-Schuester. But refs threw a penalty flag.
Eagles defender James Bradberry got flagged for holding. Video replay showed that he grabbed the back of Smith-Schuester’s jersey, then grabbed his waist with one hand while placing an arm on top of JuJu’s.
As controversial as it was, the penalty brought the Chiefs even further inside the red zone. And WR Jerick McKinnon had a clear path to the end zone on a following play. But instead of rush for the touchdown, he slid to a stop near the sideline. That gave the Chiefs an opportunity to run the clock down.
The Chiefs turned into clock managers, running as much time off the clock as they could. Each concurrent play was basically a kneel-down. Coach Andy Reid waited until the last possible moment to call a timeout with just 11 seconds left. Then Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker drilled a 27-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 38-35 lead.
After the field goal, eight seconds remained on the clock. Chief punter Tommy Townsend kicked the ball away. Kenneth Gainewell returned it for the Eagles. But instead of running as far as he could towards the end zone, Gainewell chose to slide to a stop. (Why?) And then, with four seconds left, Hurts made his final throw of the game. After receiving the snap, Hurts danced around, holding to the ball for what seemed like forever. Then he heaved the ball as far as he could — but it landed with a thud on the ground. No Eagles receivers were even near it.
That final throw sealed the game. The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, 38-35. It’s their second Super Bowl win in the last four seasons. Mahomes was named Super Bowl MVP, the first to win MVP and a Super Bowl sine 1999. And he makes history. With this victory, Patrick Mahomes becomes the first Black quarterback ever to win multiple Super Bowls.
“I’ll give the credit to the big O-line and to Pat Mahomes,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game. “He’s the MVP. That’s all that needs to be said.”
After the game, the MVP met up with his MLB dad. Mahomes shared a special moment with his father, Pat Mahomes Sr. “I ain’t never seen nothing like you,” Mahomes told his son. “I love you.”
And Travis Kelce shared an emotional moment with his brother Jason.
UPDATE (Feb. 15, 2023): The Chiefs are holding their victory parade today in Kansas City, Missouri. Fans packed into the field outside Union Station.
According to the Daily Caller, “The parade will be rolling down Grand Boulevard in downtown Kansas City, beginning at 6th street and going through downtown and the Crossroads before going on Pershing Road. The parade will end at Union Station.”
Chiefs players boarded double-decker buses and rode down the parade route, greeting hordes of cheering fans. Patrick Mahomes rode on the bus, wearing a WWE Championship belt.
Mahomes seems to be enjoying himself:
Once the buses reached their destination, players got off and walked the streets, interacting with fans. Travis Kelce signed autographs as he worked the crowds:
Chiefs safety Justin Reid had a message for Chiefs Kingdom:
Once the players reached Union Station, they hit the stage. Players delivered raucous speeches in front of a cheering crowd, led by none other than Travis Kelce:
“This has been the best season of my life. I owe it all to you guys,” Kelce told the crowd.
This story will be updated.