After a season filled with low-scoring island games, the 2022 NFL season finished with a very good 38-35 Super Bowl that may have been one fewer flag away from an instant top five classic. Either way, Super Bowl LVII made history as the first Super Bowl where both teams scored at least 35 points.
It also rewrote the standard again for what kind of teams we can expect to win a Super Bowl, and no surprise that is thanks to Patrick Mahomes, who went home with MVP honors after throwing three touchdowns and making very few mistakes.
- It took 57 years, but Mahomes is the first quarterback to lead the league in passing yards and win the Super Bowl in the same season.
- Mahomes is the first quarterback since Kurt Warner (1999 Rams) to win MVP, first-team All Pro, and Super Bowl MVP in the same season. MVPs were on an 0-9 Super Bowl run and first-team All-Pro quarterbacks were 0-8 before Mahomes’ win.
- The Chiefs join the 2006 Colts and 2011 Giants as the only teams since 1989 (and likely ever) to win a Super Bowl with a defense ranked lower than 15th in points per drive allowed. The Chiefs were No. 21 this year and won this game despite allowing 35 points on 10 drives.
- Mahomes won this Super Bowl with a cap hit of 17% this season – the previous high for a Super Bowl-winning quarterback was Steve Young (13.1%) on the 1994 49ers, the beginning of the cap era.
- The 2022 Chiefs are just one of seven Super Bowl winners to have a minus-3 or worse turnover differential in the regular season. But they were plus-4 in the playoffs.
- The 2022 Chiefs are the first defense to win a Super Bowl after allowing 30 touchdown passes in the regular season. They allowed 33, four more than any other defense this year.
But in winning 38-35, the Chiefs did it their way. Jalen Hurts is now 15-2 when he leads the Eagles to at least 27 points, and both losses are to Mahomes, a f’n unicorn who just solidified himself this weekend as a first-ballot Hall of Famer with two Super Bowl MVPs and two MVP awards in his first six seasons. The only other two quarterbacks to do that needed 11 (Tom Brady) or 12 (Joe Montana) seasons to achieve it.
For the fourth time in the last nine Super Bowls, we had a team come back to win after trailing by double digits in the second half. That happened zero times in the first 48 Super Bowls.
I’d call it your classic Chiefs comeback against the front-running Eagles, akin to Super Bowl LIV against the 49ers, but this game was actually quite different. But by and large, this was a Kansas City script with a couple plot twists along the way.
This season in Stat Oddity:
- Conference Championship Games
- Divisional Round
- Wild Card Weekend
- Week 18
- Week 17
- Week 16
- Week 15
- Week 14
- Week 13
- Week 12
- Week 11
- Week 10
- Week 9
- Week 8
- Week 7
- Week 6
- Week 5
- Week 4
- Week 3
- Week 2
- Week 1
The Least Valuable Player: The Turf
Before we get into the recap, the worst part of the game was the field surface in Arizona. If they really spent so much time and money growing this grass, then it was a waste as players were slipping all night. It did not really affect the outcome, and ultimately the game still had 73 points, but it sure would have been nice to see a better playing surface for the biggest game of the year.
This stadium has hosted some great big games, and god knows the Cardinals aren’t using it much in January and February, so when they bring the Super Bowl back to Arizona, hopefully the field will be better than this.
The First Quarter: Early Fireworks
Right from the start this was looking like an explosive Super Bowl with both offenses scoring a touchdown with their go-to players getting it done with Jalen Hurts on the QB sneak and Travis Kelce on a well-designed 18-yard route.
But you did also see some big hits, which became common in this game too. There was a lot of quality play all around, but an offensive pass interference penalty short-circuited the Eagles’ second possession for the first punt of the night.
So much for Mahomes and Kelce not being healthy, because the duo hooked up for a quick 60 yards on two drives to start the game. Kelce had just 23 yards against the Eagles last year, but you could throw that result out the window in this one as he still found ways to get wide open early.
But the Eagles would do a better job after those first three catches, and they also did a good job of holding down most of the other receivers on the night. Just enough pressure on Mahomes nearly forced an interception on a third down, but the Chiefs settled for a 42-yard field goal instead of going for a fourth-and-3.
This was probably Andy Reid’s biggest mistake of the night as the Eagles have been the more aggressive team and probably would have gone for that fourth down. Harrison Butker hit the left upright with his kick as he can often do on lower-pressure plays, and there went a golden opportunity for Kansas City’s first lead as the game went into the second quarter tied 7-7.
The Second Quarter: Eagles Do Their Thing
Over four months ago I was pointing out how historic the 2022 Eagles were in the second quarter. But even when the team was 6-0, I thought it was odd how they dominated that one quarter so much while not being special in the other three.
At 8-0, the Eagles had scored 133 points in the second quarter, the most points any team has had in any quarter through eight games in NFL history. This is why the Eagles were the third team since the 1970 merger to not trail in its first eight games. But this was clearly not going to sustainable. Would it be fatal down the stretch in a tight game and when the Eagles faced a legitimate quarterback for a change?
By season’s end, the Eagles were +116 in the second quarter and just +17 in the other three quarters combined. I did not think that was a good formula for the Chiefs, who we know can come back with the best of them.
But the second quarter was both as good as it got for the Eagles and a costly one as one huge mistake would haunt them.
The Eagles started their favorite quarter with Hurts taking a chance deep to A.J. Brown, and what looked like it may lead to defensive pass interference actually just laid in perfectly to the receiver for a 45-yard touchdown bomb.
The Chiefs went three-and-out after JuJu Smith-Schuster was clearly interfered with on third-and-8, but there was no penalty for some reason. More on that later.
After Hurts converted a third-and-8 with a brilliant scramble move, he really looked like the ultimate dual threat who was having a great game in his first Super Bowl. But then came the moment where the Eagles may have blown this one. One thing the team really struggled with all night was running the ball with the trio of backs, who combined for just 17 carries for 45 yards. If you thought Miles Sanders sucked against the Chiefs last year with 7 carries for 13 yards, he only had 7 carries for 16 yards in this one.
But on a second-and-1, it was Kenneth Gainwell who was stopped short to bring up third-and-1. No worries, the team who has turned the quarterback sneak into an even bigger cheat code would pick it up with ease. But that doesn’t happen when you get penalized for a false start as the timing was off for the Eagles. Huge mistake. On third-and-medium, Hurts tried a quarterback draw, but he just lost the ball on an unforced error, and Nick Bolton was there for the 36-yard scoop and score to tie the game.
It is so hard to win a Super Bowl when your offense coughs up a turnover for a touchdown, and that is the third time this season the Eagles did that in a game they went on to lose. The other time they just had four turnovers against Dallas, but this ended up being the only turnover in the whole game.
I was curious to see how Hurts responded to that blunder, but he did a great job and used his legs well to convert a ballsy fourth-and-5 with a 28-yard run by slipping a tackle. He also got another fourth-down conversion by drawing the Chiefs offsides in the red zone. The drive fittingly ended with Hurts running in his second touchdown on a successful draw to take a 21-14 lead with 2:20 left.
This was the part of the game in Super Bowl LV where the Chiefs really blew it against Tampa Bay. They had to answer here but it was another bad drive with Mahomes scrambling on a third down and apparently aggravating his ankle injury. He looked to be grimacing in pain much worse than he did when he initially had the injury against Jacksonville, and it was much worse than the third quarter against the Bengals when he tweaked it.
Chad Henne was apparently warming up, and this just felt like the Eagles catching another break with an injured quarterback. The Chiefs had the ball for just 8:06 in the first half as the Eagles dominated with long drives while Kansas City really did not show a lot after that hot opening drive. That makes 16 points for the offense in the last six quarters of Super Bowl action.
Things were looking poor for the Chiefs after getting outscored 17-7 in the quarter, and it could have been much worse without Hurts’ unforced error. It also would be nice if DeVonta Smith can make a cleaner catch down the sideline after his 35-yard grab was overturned to incomplete after a lengthy review. I can understand why they overturned it, but I was still surprised that they thought the evidence was conclusive enough to overturn the call on the field of a 35-yard catch.
That was a big reversal as it led to only a field goal and 24-14 lead for the Eagles at halftime. Still, this was looking like a Philadelphia script with an injured Mahomes even if the pass rush in this game was minimized.
Rihanna > Beyonce, forever and always, but moving onto the second half.
The Third Quarter: Here Come the Chiefs
With a half-hour halftime and Mr. White in the house to inject Mahomes with some Crystal Blue Persuasion, the MVP was able to return to the game and still looked good. The run game was also looking good for the Chiefs again, and Mahomes even took a play himself 14 yards after it looked like the Eagles were surprised he could still move like that.
Two plays later, Isiah Pacheco was in the end zone for a touchdown, and we had a game again at 24-21.
On the ensuing drive, Bolton thought he had another fumble touchdown, but the refs got the call right of a bang-bang play and no catch, no fumble for Sanders and the Eagles. What ensued was another painfully long drive with some incredible completions from Hurts to Dallas Goedert, including a third-and-14 conversion that took forever to review, but they got the call right as it was a catch this time.
The quarterback sneak worked for another fourth-and-1 for the Eagles, and this 7:45 drive was threatening to put the Eagles back up 10, but the pass defense stepped up and made a stop. The Eagles had a couple fourth downs already converted, and I was surprised that Nick Sirianni did not go for a fourth-and-6 at the Kansas City 15, understanding how much more valuable a 10-point lead is instead of 6 vs. 3.
But the Eagles settled for the 33-yard field goal and a 27-21 lead despite taking half the quarter with that drive. You can say Sirianni coached a pretty good Super Bowl when his biggest mistake in three quarters was not going for a fourth-and-6.
But with the Chiefs driving towards midfield, you could see where this one was heading.
The Fourth Quarter: Chiefs Do It Again
This postseason has sucked ass for drama, but maybe we would get something good here as it was the 18th Super Bowl in the last 20 years to be within one score in the fourth quarter. This postseason’s only fourth-quarter lead change was Jaguars vs. Chargers, and that was on the final play of the game. We needed something more dramatic here, and we absolutely got it.
JuJu, who I loved back in Pittsburgh his first two years and not so much after, was huge on this drive as he had three straight catches to put the ball at the 9-yard line. Incredibly, Marquez Valdes-Scantling had one target and no catches in the game after being so good against the Bengals. Kadarius Toney also had no touches on offense, so the Chiefs were getting almost everything out of Kelce, JuJu, and the running game.
But on a third-and-3, the Eagles completely blew a coverage and Toney was left wide open, not unlike his first NFL touchdown with the Chiefs against Jacksonville earlier this season. Andy Reid did it again. The Chiefs made the extra point to go up 28-27 and – STOP THE COUNT – they had their first lead and a lead for the 101st time in the last 102 games.
It also meant the 2022 Chiefs are the first team to have a fourth-quarter lead in 20 games in one season. But would they hang onto it to join the 1984 49ers and 2013 Seahawks as the only teams to do it in at least 19 games and win the Super Bowl? That is exclusive company for sure.
With the Eagles unable to run, it was going to be on Hurts’ shoulders, and he does not have the track record yet in these situations. Sure enough, the Eagles went three-and-out and this thing was going all Kansas City’s way. Toney returned the ensuing punt, after a little mix-up at the beginning, for 65 yards, nearly housing it, which likely would have earned him the MVP honors for this game. But his impact was felt as it was the longest punt return in Super Bowl history.
Not bad for a Kansas City team that had its longest punt return of the season against the Bengals (by Skyy Moore) to set up their game-winning drive last game out. Now they more than doubled that with this one by Toney. Speaking of Moore, he finished off this drive with yet another blown coverage by the Eagles as he was left all alone for a 4-yard touchdown. Way too easy.
Should the Chiefs have gone for two at 9:22 left? I think it was a little early to get the full benefit of that one, but I fully understand the argument by doing it. Still, it was 35-27 and this is out of the Eagles’ comfort zone.
However, when the QB sneak has been unstoppable all night, and the slants to Brown are open all night, the Eagles quickly moved the ball. Smith got wide open for a 45-yard bomb that if thrown a little better, he would have walked in for a touchdown. But on the next play, Hurts set a Super Bowl record with his third rushing touchdown at the quarterback position, giving him a record 18 for the season. He even finished the drive off with the game-tying two-point conversion as the league may have to interfere with the rule book to stop the Eagles’ dominance in short yardage. No more push sneaks in the near future? We’ll see.
But we were all tied up at 35 with 5:15 left. With the leaked script (read: a funny meme that some take too seriously) calling for a 37-34 win by the Eagles, you may have had it in the back of your mind that maybe the Chiefs screw this up after three straight touchdowns and the Eagles do win this one on a last-second field goal for a 38-35 win. The internet would go ape shit over that.
But no, Mahomes really is just different. He found Kelce for another catch that allowed him to hit his over (81 yards) by two yards, which cost me $700 in parlay wins, but no sour grapes here. Kelce now has nine straight games in the playoffs with over 75 receiving yards, three more than anybody else. Pacheco was able to convert the ensuing third-and-1 for a 10-yard gain.
Then came a definitive play. Mahomes scrambled right down the middle of the field for a 26-yard gain, looking pretty spry in the process and putting the Chiefs in field goal range. The rest of this drive was going to be very interesting strategy as the Eagles had three clock stoppages left, and the Chiefs could not afford to give them the ball back in a 38-35 game with nearly two full minutes left. Not after how easy the Eagles scored on the last drive.
The Chiefs even screwed this up with conservative play. A screen to JuJu gained nothing and brought up third-and-8. Mahomes just kind of lobbed one towards the end zone for JuJu on third down, which would have saved the Eagles’ last timeout, but there came the flag. Defensive holding on James Bradberry. Automatic first down.
I get why they called it, but I have to agree with FOX’s Greg Olsen. That is a very soft call on a night where the refs were swallowing the whistle. Bradberry tugged on the jersey, but the throw was also way off from the receiver, and I don’t think it was restrictive enough to say it drastically altered the play for the Chiefs. They got bailed out of a bad sequence with that call, and now the game was going to have a shit ending because the Chiefs were just going to set up the field goal.
For all the talk about referee Carl Cheffers screwing the Chiefs over in the past, his crew called just 3 penalties for 14 yards on the Chiefs in this game. He had gone 12 straight games calling at least 92 yards worth of penalties on both teams in Kansas City games, and 12 straight where the Chiefs had over 47.5 penalty yards.
So this was a surprise, and worse, there were just three penalties in the game on post-snap action, and they were all on the Eagles. The other six penalties were all your pre-snap things like false start, delay of game, neutral zone infraction, and offsides.
The refs tried to stay out of the story this week, but they had a huge impact on how this game would end. The part that pisses me off the most is how can they justify not calling the DPI on the Eagles on a JuJu coverage play on third down in the second quarter, but then they call this ticky tack crap? This inconsistency is what drives people nuts.
The Eagles did the right thing by offering the touchdown to the Chiefs, but Jerick McKinnon was wise to go down in bounds short of the end zone. Mahomes ended up taking two knees for minus-7 yards, meaning the Chiefs had 165 rushing yards before that happened. That is another big running day against the Eagles, who had their biggest statistical weakness at stopping the run this year (24th in yards per carry allowed), and last year the Chiefs ran for 200 yards on them for just the second time in the Mahomes era. This was another outstanding running day when you consider the Chiefs only had eight drives to score their 31 points. The Chiefs only had the ball for 24:13 and still scored 38 points. The only other time that has happened in the playoffs was when Andrew Luck led a 38-10 comeback against Reid’s 2013 Chiefs in a 45-44 win despite having the ball for 22:27.
For the anticlimactic finish, Butker just had to not go Blair Walsh and make a 27-yard field goal. He did it, and the Chiefs led 38-35 with 8 seconds left.
The Eagles returned the squib kick 11 yards before Gainwell gave himself up. Six seconds were eventually put back on the clock after it went down to 4 seconds, but either the Eagles didn’t seem to realize that, or they just blew the situation. There was no way Hurts could throw a Hail Mary over 65 yards with his shoulder injury, so the call should have been a quick pass to the sideline to get closer, or you do the laterals. Instead, Hurts held the ball and just threw a duck well short of the end zone and to no one in particular to end the game.
The Chiefs did it. Lesser defense filled with rookies, QB taking up 17% of the cap, injured skill players – none of it mattered. They also won this as a team as Mahomes’ 182 passing yards are tied for his fifth fewest in a game. He got the big run support, he got the fumble return touchdown, and he got the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. Mahomes was the right call to win Super Bowl MVP for making very few mistakes all night and still leading the offense to 31 points on eight drives with a missed field goal, but he still won this with the kind of team support we usually don’t see behind an MVP in a big game like this.
For the Eagles, it is a letdown for sure. I can say Hurts has still never beat a good quarterback on a good team in the NFL, but this game raised my respect for him. The fumble was an unfortunate blunder, but those happen. Mahomes just did it against the Bengals two weeks ago. Hurts was leading the MVP race most of the night as his run game and defense severely let him down as the 70-sack defense proved to be a paper tiger in the end. They were rarely tested this year, and when they faced the Chiefs, they folded with no sacks, very little pressure, and those blown coverages in the red zone are inexcusable.
Incredibly, the Eagles (70) and Chiefs (55) led the NFL in sacks this year with 125 between them, yet the only two in this game were on scramble plays where Hurts twice ran out of bounds for a small loss. Not even legitimate sacks in my view.
Mahomes got the ball off in 2.69 seconds on average according to Next Gen Stats. He is now 47-4 when he gets the ball out in under 2.9 seconds, so this game was above average for his release time even if it wasn’t quite the 2.32 seconds from last year’s meeting.
To close a week where we celebrated LeBron James breaking the NBA’s all-time scoring record that lasted almost 40 years, we just witnessed another great achievement for Mahomes in winning a Super Bowl with this team. It is not quite up to the level of LeBron knocking off the 73-9 Warriors, but to overcome all the negative perceptions of this team being too inexperienced, too pass happy, too imbalanced, and too injured, this is a big deal. I agree with Mahomes that this win means even more than 2019 did for him.
There is a long offseason ahead to be talking about their chances at ending the repeat drought, and Philadelphia’s chances at getting right back to this game as the NFC is not the toughest path right now.
But I am going to let this one marinate, go up to bed in a good mood as it’s always an easier offseason when the Super Bowl goes the way you wanted it to, and this is the end of my 12th season covering the NFL. I would say I look forward to the break from football, but I am scheduled for multiple XFL and NBA pieces this week, so it looks like I will be keeping busy for the next six months until we do it all over again for the 2023 NFL season.
Unless the aliens get past our space lasers.