June 7, 2023

Heartbreak — 7 observations from Chiefs-Eagles Super Bowl a day later


Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, right, loses a fumble after being hit by Kansas Phjiladelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts fumbles as he ihit by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton (32) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 57 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz. Bolton picked up the fumble and scored on the play. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Heartbreak on Valentine’s week. Except this one is a little different.

A brilliant first half turned into a disastrous second half, and it ended in a 38-35 Eagles loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Teams with double-digit leads at halftime were 26-1 in Super Bowl history — the one loss was the Atlanta Falcons in overtime against the New England Patriots in 2016. The Eagles make it 26-2.

Also, the commercials were not very good. But, Rihanna was great.

This one stings, and it will for a while.

Here are my observations a day later:

  1. Everything started out great for the Eagles. They controlled the clock, they kept the Chiefs off the field., they converted third and fourth downs, the stars made big plays, and Jalen Hurts was marvelous. It was perfect. For 30 minutes, that is. The Eagles built a 10-point halftime lead over the Chiefs doing exactly what they needed to do, but they could not finish them. They stopped making the plays, the pressure they were getting on Patrick Mahomes early faded, and they started missing tackles and blowing coverages. They lost their pixie dust, sort of like the Phillies, and the Chiefs began playing with confidence, and by the fourth quarter, the Chiefs began to take over the game. They beat up the Eagles up front the whole second half. You can’t let a team like the Chiefs stick around as how they did. When you have them down, you have to finish, and the Eagles flat-out failed at doing so.
  2. The second half was a defensive disaster. Everyone and their grandmothers knew Mahomes was going to make some utterly-ridiculous plays at some point, but I, at least, did not expect him to have receivers wide-open near the endzone without a defender in sight. A complete meltdown of a unit that was debatable the best in the game all year. They had never faced a quarterback like Mahomes because, well, there is no one quite like him. But if you cannot pressure him, you have not a chance. Mahomes completed only eight passes in the first half, and the Chiefs ran only 20 plays. However, in the second half, he was 13-for-14 with two more TDs and a few big runs. The Chiefs scored on all four of their second-half possessions with three TDs and the game-sealing field goal. And then you take a look at the sack column. My word. Zero? Really? The Chiefs’ offensive line played the way you expected the Eagles’ offensive line to play. The Eagles had a few decent pressures, but when the best defensive line in the NFL in the last 35 years has to do better. The Chiefs’ offensive line is okay, but the Eagles recorded the third-highest sack total in history. Getting goose-egged is embarrassing.
  3. Jalen Hurts may have lost, he may have had a terrible fumble that wound up giving the Chiefs the winning margin leading to the victory. But otherwise, what an incredible performance by the Eagles’ 24-year-old second-year starting quarterback. He threw for 304 yards completing 71% of his passes, ran for 70 yards and three touchdowns, threw the longest Super Bowl TD pass to a wide receiver in Eagles history, and went 5-for-5 on sneaks. Nobody this young has ever played this well in a Super Bowl. And you cannot name me one who has played relatively close to it. Hurts on Sunday became the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to throw for 300 yards and complete 70 percent of his passes without an interception. He played nearly just as well as a two-time MVP, two-time Super Bowl winner and MVP, already a lock to be in the Hall of Fame, and he played like a champion. Sticking with the offense, Quez Watkins. Come on. Catch the ball. Watkins just keeps making plays to hurt the team. You’re playing in a Super Bowl, you’re open, you have a chance at a 35-yard catch down to about the Chiefs’ 7-yard-line with no one around you, and instead of running to the ball, you leave your feet and let the ball fly through your hands. My God. Those are opportunities you can’t waste in any game. Especially the biggest one of your life. Inexcusable.
  4. The James Bradberry call. It was a hold. But in that situation, it does not need to be called. Penalties killed the Eagles in this game. Offensive pass interference on Zach Pascal wiped out a nice gain by Kenny Gainwell, illegal use of hands-on Ndamukong Suh gave the Chiefs a first down, a false start on Isaac Seumalo was really damaging because it turned a 3rd-and-1 into the 3rd-and-6 when Hurts fumbled so that one was critical where without the penalty, there is no fumble, there was a delay of the game, an offside on Sweat on the Chiefs’ first fourth-quarter TD drive, and finally the Bradberry penalty that gave the Chiefs a fresh set of downs before the game-winning field goal. You expect more discipline than that at this stage.
  5. Special teams finally caught up with them, and it happened at the worst possible moment. First of all, I do not understand changing punters for the Super Bowl when Arryn Siposs has not played in two months. Brett Kern was not so lousy that the Eagles were so frantic to activate Siposs when he hasn’t kicked in a long time. So then Siposs hits a low line-drive punt that Kadarius Toney returns back to the 5-yard-line, the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. The Eagles were lucky that their special team, which is one of the worst in the NFL, did not kill them all season. And, well, it killed them on the largest stage.
  6. The State Farm Stadium turf was in such terrible shape. My goodness. In just about every play somebody was slipping, and it hurt both teams equally. How do you play a Super Bowl, or any game in the NFL for that matter, on a field that’s unsuitable for football? How does the NFL allow that? Several Eagles players changed their cleats to try and get some better tread, but it didn’t seem to help all that much. The NFL spent two years preparing the grass for the field at the Super Bowl. It was grown at a local sod farm in Phoenix and was installed two weeks ago. The field was rolled out each morning for daily sunshine. The whole project cost $800,000, and it was the worst turf some of these guys played on in their careers. Have to be better.
  7. The last three months have been a special time in Philadelphia sports. The Phillies’ improbable run, the Union finally reaching the MLS Cup, and the Eagles being the best team in the NFL. How did they all end? In a championship loss. The Phillies were up 2-1 in the World Series and lost the series 5-2 involving three-straight heartbreaks. The Union led by a goal at the end of extra time in the MLS Cup, gave up a goal, and did not score in penalty kicks, leading to a heartbreaker for the Union supporters. Now the Eagles, led by double-digits at the half, and could not finish out the Super Bowl in a heartbreaking three-point loss. Three months, three heartbreaking championship losses. It’s a Philly thing, I guess.

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