Jordan Mailata criticises ‘terrible’ Super Bowl surface as Australians denied win | Super Bowl LVII

Jordan Mailata has lamented the state of a slippery Super Bowl playing surface after he and compatriot Arryn Siposs were denied a slice of NFL history in Arizona.

Philadelphia’s 38-35 loss to Kansas City Chiefs at Phoenix’s State Farm Stadium meant the wait for an active Australian Super Bowl champion continued, the Chiefs just the second team to overturn a 10-point deficit on the biggest stage.

A Harrison Butker field goal with eight seconds left was the difference, incredibly earning the Chiefs an eighth straight win in games they have trailed at three-quarter time.

Left tackle Mailata and punter Siposs – playing his first game since an ankle injury in December – were the third and fourth Australians to feature in the NFL decider.

They join Ben Graham (Arizona, 2009) and Mitch Wishnowsky (San Francisco, 2020) on the runner-up list, Jesse Williams (Seattle 2014) the only Australian with a ring despite injury denying him a Super Bowl appearance.

Fringe NRL player Mailata took a chance in America five years ago despite never playing the game, while Siposs played 28 AFL games for St Kilda between 2011-2015 before making the switch.

And the pair looked set to make history as the Eagles dominated the first half, the 203cm and 166kg Mailata paving the way for quarterback Jalen Hurts to make some history of his own. But the quarterback’s record three rushing touchdowns and 304 passing yards were not enough.

On a night when players struggled to keep their feet, Siposs had two punts for 95 yards. His first was a 57-yard drop punt that proved awkward to return, but his second fell short and wide of the intended target.

That allowed Kadarius Toney to dart off his left foot, around a gang of special team tacklers, and set off for a Super Bowl record 60-yard return that led to the go-ahead touchdown.

Siposs eventually brought Toney to ground himself but felt the wrath of the passionate Philadelphia fan base for his shonky kick, while Mailata was among those to slam the playing conditions.

He said players from both sides had described the surface as “terrible” during the game and told reporters post-game “it was like playing on a water park”.

“I’m not a grass expert, but it was pretty slippery,” he said. “If it’s rainy, windy, it comes down to who can handle the conditions the best.

“We built a great brotherhood and that started with [coach Nick] Sirianni … our locker room is a very tight-knit group. I’m proud of the guys, man.”

Behind Hurts, the Eagles dominated possession to lead 24-14 at half-time and by six at the final break.

But, nursing a sore ankle, opposing quarterback Patrick Mahomes – the season and game MVP – passed for two of his three touchdowns to put the Chiefs clear.

After Siposs’s blunder Hurts, who had earlier fumbled to gift Kansas City a first-half TD, struck back with his third rushing touchdown to level the scores.

But, helped by a holding penalty, the Chiefs managed the clock and even passed up a touchdown before opting to kick a field goal, leaving the Eagles with just one play to concoct a miracle that did not eventuate.

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