Super Bowl LVII Notebook: Stoic Hurts Showcased Poise, Dynamic Potential In Defeat
GLENDALE, Ariz. – A herculean Jalen Hurts performance ultimately proved futile Sunday, as the Eagles fell in dramatic fashion to the Kansas City Chiefs, 38-35, in Super Bowl LVII.
Hurts, who completed 27 of 38 passes to eight different receivers, passed for 304 yards and a touchdown (103.4 QB rating) in addition to rushing for 70 yards and a pair of scores. He served as the engine that fueled an often-surgical Philadelphia offense that rolled up 417 yards against a formidable Chiefs defense.
The Eagles converted 11 of 18 third downs and dominated in time of possession, 35:47 to 24:13.
Aiding Hurts in the offensive onslaught were wide receivers DeVonta Smith, who snared seven receptions for 100 yards, and A.J. Brown, who reeled in six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.
In terms of complementary football, Jonathan Gannon’s defense – anchored all season by a ferocious pass rush – was ultimately overmatched in defeat, surrendering 340 yards and frequently falling victim to a masterclass in play-calling from Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
The pass rush that came within three sacks of shattering a 38-year-old single-season record (72) was held at bay, mustering just five quarterback hits.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who completed 21-of-27 pass attempts for 182 yards and three touchdowns, was assisted by an unrelenting Chiefs rushing attack, which manufactured 158 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
As for Hurts, the third-year signal-caller set a Super Bowl record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback (70), and tied records for most points (20), most touchdowns (3), two-point conversions (1), and most rushing touchdowns (3).
Hurts extraordinary on big stage
“I mean, if there was any doubters left, there shouldn’t be now.”
While Hurts somberly reaffirmed his respect for Patrick Mahomes in response to the game MVP’s praise regarding his performance, he predictably refused to take solace in the two-time MVP quarterback’s ringing endorsement.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Hurts said. “I always have. He’s done some really great things, thus far. For me, we lost. He came away with the win.
“We came up short, so it’s something that I know will motivate me. I’ve been here before, and that’s the beautiful thing about it, so I’ll figure it out.”
The 24-year-old quarterback checked off every remaining box in his pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy.
Inarguably the most dominant player on the field at State Farm Stadium, Hurts – much like his idols Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant – demonstrated the composure, poise, and ‘Mamba Mentality’ required of a champion at the highest level.
He delivered in high-leverage moments, conjuring an answer at the first sign of a momentum shift, and laying his body on the line for teammates, as Hurts was still dealing with the remnants of a right shoulder injury.
Hurts displayed a calming presence under the brightest possible spotlight rarely seen in young players.
At points this season Hurts alluded to his composure when stakes are highest, some of those comments going viral.
Even as he gazed upon the droves of media surrounding his podium afterward, Hurts echoed the very same sentiments from the season, with the lights shining on him under a national spotlight.
And while Hurts is far from satisfied with the outcome, the Eagles’ stoic quarterback managed to identify a silver lining.
“You either win or you learn, that’s how I feel. You either win or you learn,” he said. “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.”
Leaving the stadium in the early morning hours, replaying moments from the game on a constant loop, it’s never been more apparent that the Eagles are equipped for long-term success with Hurts at the helm.
If there was any doubts that remained entering Sunday, they’ve been put to rest.
Pass rush stymied
One of the most prominent matchup-based storylines surrounding Super Bowl LVII involved trench play, arguably the most formidable units for both teams.
Gannon’s historically prolific bunch failed to generate a sack against a compromised Patrick Mahomes – still battling a high ankle sprain – mustering only five quarterback hits.
At one point in the first half, it appeared Reddick would render Chiefs right tackle Andrew Wylie into a turnstile, thwarting consecutive third-down attempts. But Reddick, like teammates Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham, and Josh Sweat, were blanked by a Kansas City offensive line that enabled Mahomes to complete 17-of-18 pass attempts for 144 yards and three touchdowns (94.4 QB rating).
Shockingly, an Eagles pass rush that amassed 70 sacks in the regular season came up small on the NFL’s grandest stage.
But what did Kansas City do in the second half to mitigate the pressure?
“They just did a great job getting that ball out of his hands, a lot of quick stuff,” Graham said after the game. “We knew that going in. Then, when we did get him we were close to getting him, it was just Mahomes making plays.
“That last holding play [on James Bradberry] hurt us, definitely when we were about to get off of third down. Third down was not really good to us. We know what we did wrong. We’re just going to own it. We’re going to sit in this for a minute and try to figure out for next year how we will make sure to get better.”
Reddick, whose 3.5 postseason sacks are most-ever by an Eagle in the postseason, quietly tallied seven quarterback pressures, a feat he’s accomplished three times this season. But even he acknowledged how the slick the State Farm Stadium field conditions impacted his performance.
“I mean, I slipped a couple of times,” Reddick said. “I felt like I had a good pass rush, felt like I beat my man, try to turn the corner and couldn’t turn the corner. Like I said, I’m not making excuses, but you watch the film and you can see when I slipped. At the end of the day, they still won.”
The Eagles have some tough decisions to make up front — Graham, Hargrave, Cox, and Robert Quinn are pending free agents – but given the team’s emphasis on fortifying the trenches, expect the d-line to remain a priority in the coming months.
Special teams blemishes resurface
It’s important to note that despite the Eagles’ ineffective third phase throughout the season, those deficiencies never had a detrimental effect on a game’s outcome – until Super Bowl Sunday.
Presided over by coordinator Michael Clay, the embattled unit grappled with situational awareness, alarming gaffes – teams successfully converted a pair of fake punts – penalties, inadequate punting and an uninspired return game throughout the season, though the Eagles always found a way to compensate.
Returning for his first game on the heels of a six-week stint on injured reserve (ankle), punter Arryn Siposs booted a 38-yard punt to the Kansas City 30-yard-line, where Chiefs returner Kadarius Toney retrieved it and cut across the field and up the right sideline without an Eagle in sight, picking up 65 yards and setting the offense up with the ball at the 5-yard line.
The Chiefs scored three plays later when Mahomes connected with a wide open Skyy Moore from four yards out on a well-designed play from maestro Andy Reid.
“He just gave us an ugly punt,” Toney said, “and I just had to go out there and make a play.”
In a game of this magnitude – against a well-coached Kansas City team – margin for error is small and mistakes are magnified. The Eagles needed Clay’s unit to deliver their best performance of the season.
In the end, they didn’t answer the bell, and those persistent woes resurfaced at the most inopportune time.
While the team has some building blocks to work with – cornerbacks Zech McPhearson and Josh Jobe are an effective outside duo as gunners, linebacker Christian Elliss revived a lifeless unit down the stretch, and punt returner Britain Covey came on a bit late in the season – next season will require some third-phase retooling.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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