Super Bowl 57 winners, losers: Patrick Mahomes breaking NFL, while Eagles defense lets them down
Written by B87FM on February 13, 2023
For the second time in four seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs have won the Super Bowl.
Behind another MVP performance from star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs erased a 10-point halftime deficit to topple the Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl 57. Mahomes tamed a sore right ankle he re-injured in the second quarter and completed 21 of 27 passes for 182 yards with three touchdowns and added 44 yards on the ground. He also had to overcome a valiant effort from Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who gained 374 total yards and four total touchdowns.
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Here are the winners and losers from Super Bowl 57.
He’s not the G.O.A.T. (yet) but Patrick Mahomes is breaking the NFL
This is like watching Michael Jordan in his prime. Patrick Mahomes is 27. He’s on a team-friendly contract. In the five seasons he has been starter, the Chiefs have made it at least to the AFC title game. As long as Mahomes is under center, this will be the standard. He won his second Super Bowl MVP days after he won his second league MVP.
Mahomes had his right ankle injury reaggravated late in the second quarter when Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards fell on it as he dragged him to the turf. Ho hum. All Mahomes did after the injury was complete 13 of 14 passes for 93 yards and a pair of scores. As if that wasn’t enough, with 2:55 left to play in a tie game, he outran the Eagles defense on a 26-yard scramble that set up the game-winning field goal.
Offensive genius of Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy
According to ESPN Stats, teams going into halftime with a lead of double digits entered Sunday with a 26-1 record in Super Bowl history. The Chiefs became the second team to overcome that, and it’s thanks mostly to head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Let’s start with the pair of touchdowns to start the fourth quarter that gave Kansas City the lead and eventually extended it.
Both plays were similarly designed and capitalized on tendencies the coaches saw from the Eagles. Philadelphia’s corners, when lined up in man coverage, often would overrun receivers who had set in motion. Knowing this, once the Chiefs got to the red zone, they called short passes in which receivers — in this case Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore — started to run in motion before they stopped and leaked out in the opposite direction. Both were wide open. Reid and Bieniemy also diagnosed that the middle of the Philadelphia defense was the weak point; Mahomes completed 14-of-15 passes for 119 yards when targeting players in the middle third of the field. For the Kansas City coaching staff, it was a masterful performance of adjustments in the second half. All of which makes it stunning that a team still hasn’t made Bieniemy a head coach.
Kansas City offensive line dominated
The Eagles entered Sunday needing five sacks to break the 1984 Bears record for most all time, including the postseason. Philadelphia’s 78 sacks this year were third most in history. Kansas City erased them. Granted, Kansas City going in motion helped keep Philadelphia off balance, but once the ball was snapped, the Chiefs played disciplined. The Chiefs O-line had only one penalty — a false start by left tackle Orlando Brown late in the second quarter — called against them.
Mahomes faced a blitz rate on 29.6% of his 27 dropbacks. He was pressured on just seven of those and wasn’t sacked once. The offensive line gave him a healthy average of 2.69 seconds to throw. Kansas City won its individual matchups and executed double teams on Haason Reddick well enough for Philly’s pass rush to be an absolute non-factor. It made the difference in the game.
Jalen Hurts is still a baller
Don’t get it twisted: even with the fumble that led to the scoop-and-score, this loss was not on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Just look at the sequence that followed the fumble; on the very next drive, Hurts led the Eagles to a 12-play, 71-yard drive that ended with his 4-yard touchdown rush. In fact, Hurts accounted for 65 of the 71 yards on the series. All throughout Super Bowl 57, Hurts did it with both his arm and his legs, showing why he’ll be a problem in the NFC for years to come.
He actually tied former Broncos and Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis (Super Bowl 32) by becoming the only other player in NFL history to have three rushing scores in a Super Bowl. As Mahomes said of his counterpart after the game: “If there were any doubters left, there shouldn’t be now.”
Future offense in Indy
The Colts recovered from the failed Jeff Saturday experiment by selecting Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen as their next head coach, according to ESPN. Terms still have to be finalized, but Indianapolis can now expect competent quarterback play and the development of a multifaceted and deceptive offense. Steichen, along with Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, built Philadelphia’s zone read offense and saw the unit go from 14th in total offense (359.9 yards per game) and 12th scoring (26.1 points per game) last season to third in both categories, 389.1 and 28.1, respectively.
Though they lost the game, it wasn’t because of the offense. Against the Chiefs, the Eagles converted 11 of 18 third downs (61%). They dominated possession, controlling the ball 35:47 to Kansas City’s 24:13. The Colts need to sort out some personnel issues — chief among them, they need a new quarterback — but the future is bright in Indy.
Blaming the loss on the defensive holding
LeBron James may have taken issue with the call. Of course, we’re talking about the defensive holding on Eagles cornerback James Bradberry, the holding that he admitted to committing. But to blame the penalty for Philadelphia’s loss is to disregard the many reasons why it lost.
Now, to be fair, the contact on the play was negligible and defensive holding is called far too inconsistent; for instance, Bradberry actually tugged the jersey of Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a previous third-and-8, this one in the first half. But as well as Jalen Hurts played, his unforced fumble that led to Kansas City linebacker Nick Bolton’s scoop-and-score gifted the Chiefs a touchdown. A historic pass rush disappeared in the biggest game of the season. The secondary lacked discipline in the red zone and blew coverages. Philadelphia’s punt return coverage in the fourth quarter yielded a huge, 65-yard return that set up a touchdown.
That brings us to the Philadelphia defense. One game does not discount previous success, but this loss spoils the success Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon had enjoyed with the Eagles. And it likely won’t be enough to cost him the chance at the head coaching gig with the Arizona Cardinals. But, given Philadelphia’s pass rushing proficiency, this has to go down as one of the all-time letdowns in recent Super Bowl history.
The Chiefs scored on every possession in the second half. They converted 4 of 5 third downs after halftime and recorded 15 first downs in that span. The secondary lacked discipline; by failing to follow the players they were covering with their eyes, Chiefs receivers Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore easily got into open space on their two touchdown catches. That it wasn’t corrected after it happened once is particularly damning. Gannon and the defense let the rest of the Eagles down.
Miles Sanders’ run in Philadelphia
At different times this season, the Eagles have leaned on each of their trio of running backs — Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell. Sanders’ days with the franchise, though, may be numbered. He had been the team’s lead back, starting 49 of the 57 games he had appeared in since he was drafted in 2019. But in the postseason, the Eagles have turned to second-year back Kenneth Gainwell (11 touches for 41 yards), who outgained Sanders in each of Philadelphia’s three playoff games. As Sanders’ rookie contract is set to expire at the end of the league year and with Gainwell locked up for at least two more seasons, Sanders (seven touches for 16 yards) becomes expendable.
Slip ‘N Slide
Long-time Cardinals and current Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson has been outspoken about the slick field in Arizona and the Super Bowl did nothing to dispel that reputation. The field was installed two weeks before the game and was rolled out to get sun, but players from both teams slipped throughout the game, especially on the areas with painted logos. It affected play and players switched to longer cleats.
In a key sequence in the second quarter, when Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell slipped short of a first down at the shield logo at midfield, it set up a pivotal third-and-1 play. A false start made it third-and-5, which led to a scoop and score on the Jalen Hurts fumble. At the end of the game, though, it was a desperation attempt, Hurts slipped on the Hail Mary attempt that fell woefully short. Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata called it “terrible” and said “it was like playing on a water park.” In the biggest game of the season, simply put, the surface was unacceptable.,