The Kansas City Chiefs overcame a 10-point halftime deficit vs. the Philadelphia Eagles to win their second NFL Championship in four years, with QB Patrick Mahomes being awarded game MVP.
After a dominant first half display, the Philadelphia Eagles looked to be 30 minutes of football away from their second title in five years. If not for a bizarre Jalen Hurts fumble that was returned for a Chiefs TD in the first half, Philly could have easily been up three scores by halftime.
Enter Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes.
The Chiefs were near-perfect in the second half, a display that propelled them to their second Lombardi Trophy in four years, while the Eagles, and Philly fans everywhere, were forced to accept a harsh reality.
Both Mahomes and Hurts arrived in Arizona with injury concerns, but it hardly impacted either of their performances. Both QBs had their team's offenses were at the top of their game, making for one of the most thrilling back-and-forth season finales of all time.
Hurts was first to make his mark in the early in the first quarter, driving the Eagles down the field and eventually using his legs for the opening score via a QB sneak. Mahomes quickly responded, leading KC on a 6-play, 75-yard drive that finished with top target Travis Kelce celebrating in the end zone for his second career TD in the big game.
The Eagles punched back almost instantly. Hurts dropped a 68-yard bomb to A.J. Brown for a TD to go up 14-7, the duo's 12th touchdown connection in their first season as teammates.
Just as the Eagles really started to gain momentum, a bizarre turnover changed the outlook of the game.
Following a three-and-out by the Chiefs, Philly took over and drove to midfield, looking poised to extend their one touchdown lead.
On a designed run play on 3rd-and-5, Hurts juked right and completely lost his grip on the ball, which skidded backwards 10 yards before being scooped up by Chiefs LB Nick Bolton. Bolton had a free path to the end zone, tying the game at 14 and leaving Eagles fans in shock.
The mishap didn't disrupt Eagles' offensive rhythm. The rest of the first half was all about Philly as Hurts rushed for a second TD on the subsequent drive. On the other side of the ball, Chiefs fans were left to fear the worst as Mahomes, who was already nursing a high ankle sprain, limped gingerly away from a tackle.
The Eagles, however, were about to learn that Mahomes should never be written off. The regular season MVP produced a masterful second-half performance to lead his team to their second NFL title in four years.
The Chiefs superstar set the tone early in the third quarter, finding Kelce and Justin Watson with completions before his own 14-yard scramble set up a 1st-and-Goal. Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco barreled into the end zone a few plays later to narrow the deficit to three points.
Jake Elliott's second successful field goal, this time a 33-yarder, helped to restore some of the Eagles' margin before the start of the fourth quarter.
With the season, and another Lombardi Trophy, on the line, Mahomes went to work.
KC replied instantly with another 9-play, 75-yard drive capped by ex-New York Giant Kadarius Toney sauntering into the end zone and putting his team ahead for the first time in the game.
The Chiefs defense then came up big again, forcing the Eagles to punt to Toney, who produced arguably the biggest play of the game, a 65-yard punt return - the longest in NFL Championship history - to immediately put his team in the red zone.
It took only three plays for Mahomes to find Skyy Moore for a touchdown, putting KC up 35-27, but the Eagles hit back again through the remarkable Hurts. The MVP runner-up found DeVonta Smith with a 45-yard deep ball and later the end zone with his legs before tying the game with a two-point conversion.
Hurts finished with three rushing touchdowns, equaling Terrell Davis' championship game record with the Broncos in 1998.
With five minutes left on the clock, the stage was set for Mahomes. Completions to Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster, along with massively-important short-yardage gains from Pacheco, set the Chiefs up in plus territory.
Philadelphia's defense did enough to at least limit the Chiefs to a field goal, though, and looked like they'd get the ball back with time remaining. A seemingly-controversial holding call by James Bradberry on 3rd-and-8 allowed Kansas City to run down the seconds before Harrison Butker kicked the game-winning field goal.
"It was a holding. I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide," Bradberry said after the game.
Mahomes finished with 3 passing TD and 44 rush yards and was awarded championship game MVP for the second time in his career.
The 27-year-old was all heart and producing a legacy-defining performance, but spare a thought for Hurts, who would've been nailed-on to be named MVP had the Eagles claimed victory instead.
Playing in his first NFL Championship, Hurts threw for 304 yards and one touchdown and produced three of his own on the ground.
As long as Mahomes is in the facility, Kansas City will like their chances of repeating in 2023/24. They are the +550 favorites to go back-to-back, this time at Las Vegas's Allegiant Stadium in 2024.
Reid was quick to squash any talk of retirement after the game, telling reporters that he was "good with what I'm doing now".
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