Mahomes brilliance, KC offensive line neutralize Eagles elite pass rush to gain Super Bowl crown
Why were the Kansas City Chiefs able to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit and hand the Eagles a 38-35 defeat in Super Bowl LVII?
The easy answer is the play of Patrick Mahomes, who followed up his MVP in the regular season with the same award in the Super Bowl. More than the numbers Mahomes put on the board in the game – we’ll get into them shortly – it was his “nothing is going to stop me” attitude.
He reinjured his ankle late in the first half. While attempting to avoid the Eagles pass rush, he went down hard and struggled to get up. He was severely hobbled as he made his way to the Kansas City sideline, but there were no indications of any injury when he came out for the second half.
His performance throughout the final 30 minutes was everything general managers and head coaches want to see from a quarterback. Mahomes saw the Lombardi Trophy on the horizon, and nothing was going to stop him from getting it.
Of course, he did not do it alone, and the biggest reason he was able to help the Chiefs gain their second Super Bowl title in 4 years was the play of the offensive line.
The Eagles finished the regular season with an eye-catching total of 70 sacks, 15 more than any team. The Chiefs kept the Eagles from registering even one sack in the game. Philadelphia was able to pressure Mahomes on 7 occasions, but he was able to run away from or buy time on each of those occasions.
Compare that to the success rate of 32.1 percent going into the Super Bowl, which was the third-best rate in the NFL since the 2016 season, per Next Gen Stats.
When the Eagles normally have a quarterback in their sights, they almost always find a way to bring him down. That did not happen in the Super Bowl.
Left tackle Orlando Brown prevented Josh Sweat (11 regular-season sacks) from getting his hands on Mahomes, and right tackle Andrew Wylie did the same thing with Brandon Graham (11 sacks). Strongside linebacker Haason Reddick (16 sacks) was thought to be a threat to win the MVP in the Super Bowl if the Eagles won and Jalen Hurts didn’t get it, but he was limited to a single tackle in the game.
Mahomes concluded the Super Bowl with the relatively modest total of 182 passing yards, but there was nothing modest about his 3 touchdown passes. His efficiency was notable as he completed 21 of 27 passes and he did not throw an interception.
He also ran for 44 yards on 6 carries, including a 26-yard run on the decisive drive late in the 4th quarter that set up Harrison Butker’s game-winning 27-yard field goal.
Mahomes finished the game with a 131.8 passer rating, and he was at his best in the fourth quarter. He completed 8 of 9 passes in the final stanza and his passer rating was 132.2 in the final 15 minutes.
‘‘It’s just who he is,’’ said Chiefs quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy. ‘‘He lives for these moments.’’
Mahomes was nearly matched by Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was brilliant in defeat, save for one brutal fumble in the second quarter.
Hurts was 27-for-38 for 304 yards with one touchdown and a 103.4 passer rating. He ran 15 times for 70 yards and three touchdowns. No other quarterback in Super Bowl history ran for three touchdowns, and his 45-yard TD pass to A.J. Brown was a brilliant throw from the right hash to the far left portion of the endzone
It was a performance unlike any in Super Bowl history. When Hurts ran for a four-yard touchdown to put the Eagles ahead 21-14 with 2:24 left in the first half, he became the first player in Super Bowl history to run for two touchdowns and throw for at least one.
Hurts’ first rushing touchdown capped the Eagles’ opening drive and came on a one-yard quarterback that saw the Philadelphia backfield shove their signal caller into the end zone. His touchdown pass was a 45-yard throw from the right side of the field to to A.J. Brown on the left side of the end zone.
Hurts’ final scoring run and subsequent two-point conversion allowed the Eagles to tie the game at 35-35.
The Hurts miscue occurred when he took a snap in the second quarter, ran to his right to buy time and then simply lost control of the ball and watched it slip out of his hands and bound away from him. Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton picked it up and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown.
That play was crucial to the outcome of the game, as the Eagles had a seven-point lead and appeared to be on their way to stretching the lead to 14 points. Instead, Bolton’s touchdown tied the game and gave the Chiefs new life.
They took advantage of that life with a brilliant second half by Mahomes and his stellar offensive line.