The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions for a second time in four years after a hobbled Patrick Mahomes marshaled a game-winning drive to seal a 38-35 comeback win over a Philadelphia Eagles team who had outplayed them for much of the game.
Mahomes, who entered his third Super Bowl in four seasons nursing a sprained right ankle and appeared to reaggravate the injury at the end of the first half with the Chiefs at their lowest point, completed 21 of 27 passes for 182 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, saving his best for the biggest moments as the Chiefs roared back from a 24-14 deficit at half-time.
In doing so, the two-time MVP managed to overcome a magnificent Jalen Hurts, the young Philadelphia quarterback who threw for 304 yards and ran for three touchdowns.
The heart-stopping affair lived up to its advance billing beneath an open retractable roof and pristine 70F (21C) conditions.
The Chiefs won the toss and deferred, as they have all but once all year, placing the ball in Hurts’ hands to start. The 24-year-old promptly led an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, plunging into the end zone on fourth down. It marked the first time in a quarter-century that a team received the opening kickoff in the Super Bowl and drove it down the field for a touchdown. The vaunted Philadelphia offensive line – all five of whom were named to the Pro Bowl – had made an emphatic opening statement in the battle of the trenches and sent the decidedly pro-Philadelphia crowd into bedlam.
Then, in a game pitched as the best roster v the best player, it was Mahomes’ turn. He quickly marched Kansas City downfield before finding Travis Kelce on a gorgeous fade route for an 18-yard touchdown. It was the sort of scripted opening drive that Chiefs coach Andy Reid has made his hallmark since entering the head coaching ranks with, of all teams, Philadelphia back in 1999.
Then, on the first play of the second quarter, Hurts took his shot downfield – and connected on a 45-yard touchdown to Brown.
Hurts’ was off to a promising start in his first Super Bowl, completing eight of his first 10 passes for 116 yards with no interceptions and a pair of touchdowns: one on the ground and one through the air.
The Eagles soon got the ball back after a Chiefs drive stalled. And that’s when disaster struck. Hurts made a stunning non-contact fumble while under duress, allowing Kansas City linebacker Nick Bolton to scoop the ball up and rumble 36 yards for the game-tying score. It was the sort of moment where Super Bowls are won and lost – and it would prove costly.
Of the seven quarterbacks who had started a Super Bowl before their 25th birthday entering Sunday’s game, only two had played even remotely well: Tom Brady in the 2001 season and Mahomes in 2018. But if there were any concern that Hurts would crumble after his miscue, he immediately put it to rest. He ran 14 yards on the first play from scrimmage, converted a third down with another run up the gut into Kansas City territory, before capping a 12-yard, 75-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run off the left tackle, putting the Eagles back in front at 21-14 amid chants of “MVP! MVP!” from the Eagles faithful.
The Eagles would score once more before half-time through a 35-yard field goal from Jake Elliot. But the bigger issue for the Chiefs was Mahomes, who limped off the field with the reaggravated ankle sprain.
Any promise of a stress-free second half for the Eagles were quickly doused by Mahomes, who led the Chiefs on a long scoring drive capped by a one-yard Isiah Pacheco touchdown run, closing the deficit to 24-21.
The Eagles avoided disaster moments later when Boston Scott’s apparent fumble was returned for a touchdown – again by the opportunistic Bolton – only to be overturned by replay. The Eagles marched methodically downfield from there, going 60 yards on 17 plays – including a magnificent catch by Dallas Goedert along the Philadelphia sideline – before settling for another Elliot field goal and a 27-21 lead in the dying minutes of the third quarter.
That’s when Mahomes led a nine-play, 75-yard drive, punctuated by a four-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Kadarius Toney, sprung free as the Chiefs used Kelce as a decoy.
For the first time in Philadelphia’s marauding postseason run, in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, they found themselves behind. And that’s where it all went pear-shaped. Hurts completed a pair of short passes but was hurried from the pocket by Carlos Dunlap on the next play, forcing a three-and-out. Then Aaron Siposs’s second punt of the game was returned around the field and down the Philadelphia sideline, a 54-yard return that placed the Chiefs within five yards of the end zone. Two plays later, the Chiefs had scored again, extending their lead to 35-27 after the extra point.
Things appeared grim for the Eagles. But clinging to their last hope, Philadelphia fired back with an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 49-yard reception by Smith on the penultimate play then another Hurts touchdown run – his third on the night. Needing a two-point conversion to tie the score, the Eagles again turned to their dual-threat star under center, who rushed it into the end zone off the left end.
That set the stage for Mahomes: Tie game in the Super Bowl with five minutes left and 75 yards from the end zone. After burning down the clock with a couple of hand-offs to Pacheco and a seven-yard connection with Kelce across the middle, Mahomes – gimpy ankle and all – scrambled 26 yards down the middle of the field down to the Philadelphia 17.
From there it was a matter of simple clock management. Harrison Butker’s field goal left the Eagles with a last-ditch attempt with six seconds left. When Hurts’ hail mary attempt fell short, another Chiefs title had been sealed.
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