Birds Defense Can't Get Stop, Lets Double-Digit Lead Slip To Chiefs In Super Bowl LVII Loss
Glendale, Ariz. – The opening bars of rapper Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’” reverberated through the PA system at State Farm Stadium just around 75 minutes prior Super Bowl LVII’s kickoff, as Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts jogged out for pregame warmups.
In Jalen-speak, his stoic demeanor and purposeful strut out of the tunnel echoed his signature manta: the job’s not done.
And for much of Sunday’s spectacle, Hurts’ pre-game demeanor seemed to serve as a harbinger to the quarterback’s big-game heroics on the game’s biggest stage.
In the end, though, Hurts and the Eagles couldn’t walk off the field with the same swagger.
The 27-yard field goal from Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker sailed through the uprights with 11 seconds to go, effectively dashing the Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes as the Chiefs won 38-35, securing their second Super Bowl title in three years, both under former Eagles coach Andy Reid.
Two rushing touchdowns and a bomb from Hurts to A.J. Brown had staked the Eagles to a 10-point lead going into the half. Teams with a double-digit going into break of the Super Bowl were 26-1 all time, but Kansas City’s three second-half touchdowns foiled the Eagles’ pursuit of their second championship in five seasons.
Even in loss, however, Hurts showed again why he’ll be the Eagles’ quarterback going forward.
“You either win or you learn, that’s how I feel,” said Hurts, who passed for 304 yards, ran for 70 more, accounted for four touchdowns, and registered a 103.4 passer rating. “You either win or you learn. Win, lose, I always reflect on the things I could have done better, anything you could have done better to try and take that next step. That’ll be the same process I always have going on.”
As the one-time MVP frontrunner prepared to take center stage in front of a national audience, he appeared loose, greeting teammates with handshakes and holding court at his normal spot on the goal line, where he would engage in a bit of pitch and catch with running backs Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell, and Boston Scott. Hurts appeared to be soaking in the moment, intent of cementing his place in NFL history.
Eyes closed, head bowed as Chris Stapleton performed a soulful, moving rendition of the National Anthem, Hurts wouldn’t have to wait long before stepping into the limelight.
The Chiefs won the opening coin toss, electing to let Hurts and the Eagles get the first crack at moving the ball.
Unfazed and undeterred, Hurts proceeded to architect an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive which culminated in the 24-year-old signal-caller calling his own number from one yard out.
Hurts completed 4-of-5 pass attempts for 54 yards on the drive, including three to wide receiver DeVonta Smith for 43 yards.
Following a failed 42-yard field goal attempt from Kansas City’s Harrison Butker, Hurts orchestrated another scoring drive, this time as a byproduct of a perfectly placed 45-yard heave from his ailing right shoulder down the field to Brown on a post corner route.
It was the caliber of throw – and moment of the game – that etches one’s name into the Super Bowl’s storied history. It also served as a reminder of how exponentially Hurts has grown as a passer.
“I thought Jalen played phenomenal,” tight end Dallas Goedert said. “He plays with his feet and he plays with his arms, he did what he did all year. I wish I could’ve won it for him
and all these guys. He played phenomenal. He gave us a chance throughout the game to win it and we’re super proud of him, the year he had and we’re really excited for the future with him.”
Hurts later added to his touchdown total with 2:24 remaining in the second, leading a surgical 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive that covered 7:19, extending the Eagles’ lead to seven.
At the break, Hurts had completed 17-of-22 pass attempts for 183 yards and a touchdown (116.3 quarterback rating), while providing an additional 63 yards and two scores as a runner, recovering smoothly from a second-quarter fumble that was returned by linebacker Nick Bolton 36 yards for a Chiefs touchdown.
The second half featured an underwhelming second half in all three phases – including a Reid masterclass in playing calling and a 65-yard punt return from Kadarius Toney – and saw the Eagles staring down an eight-point deficit with 9:22 left in regulation.
Leading with conviction and perhaps some ice water in his veins, Hurts executed a clinical eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive highlighted particularly by an 11-yard bullet to Brown on a 3rd-and-4 along with a 45-yard deep shot to DeVonta Smith to set up Hurts’ third rushing touchdown of the evening.
Hurts proceeded to call his own number once more on the ensuing successful two-point conversion, going over left tackle to draw even at 35 apiece.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s crew, seemingly on its heels for the entirety of the second half, was essentially powerless as Chiefs quarterback and two-time MVP Patrick Mahomes methodically piloted the Kansas City offense down the field on a 12-play, 66-yard drive, bleeding precious clock in the process.
Eagles cornerback James Bradberry’s defensive holding penalty on third down all but sealed the team’s fate.
As for Hurts, who accounted for almost 400 yards on the ground and through the air, the third-year quarterback never flinched when stakes were highest.
This game will forever evoke ‘what if’ questions.
If Hurts had even a minute to work with instead of 11 seconds, perhaps he could have positioned the Eagles to secure their second Super Bowl title in five seasons.
“I don’t think this game is defined by one play, one play throughout the game, or one call, or whatever it was,” Hurts said. “I’m big on self reflection and reflecting on the things I could have done better, so I think I’m going to challenge everyone, and I’ve already challenged everyone, to think about those things, because it’s the same process we go about. Look at yourself in the mirror and be able to learn from everything.
“Like I said, you either win or you learn.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.