On Sunday, Feb. 12, Super Bowl 2023 commenced in Glendale, Arizona.
Two NFL powerhouses faced off in America’s most anticipated sporting event, as the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs met to duel at State Farm Stadium in front of almost 68,000 fans, with millions more watching on television. Both teams had similar paths to the game; each was their respective conference’s top seed with 14-3 regular season records and were viewed as favorites to win it all this year. It was also a historic quarterback matchup, as the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Eagles’ Jalen Hurts were the first black quarterbacks to face each other in a championship game.
The game started with a bang, as the Eagles put together a quick drive that resulted in quarterback Hurts jumping through a pile at the 1-yard line and scoring the first of three historical Super Bowl QB sneaks that culminated in a touchdown.
The Chiefs answered quickly and scored on their next drive with a Mahomes touchdown pass to star tight end Travis Kelce for an 18-yard catch, tying the game at 7-7. This was just the beginning of a high-scoring game, but not without missteps by both teams. Later in the first, Kansas City kicker, Harrison Butker attempted a 42-yard field goal that bounced off the post, and the game remained tied heading into the second quarter.
After advancing up the field, the first play of the second quarter resulted in a jaw-dropping touchdown throw from Philadelphia. Hurts connected with star receiver A.J. Brown on a perfect 45-yard touchdown pass, as Brown tumbled into the end zone to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead.
This lead was soon defeated by a costly Eagles mishap, as Hurts later fumbled the ball, and Chiefs defender Nick Bolton returned it for a touchdown, tying the game with his 36-yard recovery. They quickly made up the mistake with a play that ended with Hurts rushing for his second touchdown, and a desperate Eagles field goal sent the team to halftime with a 24-14 lead. Philadelphia was clearly in control, having possession in 22 of the possible 30 minutes and doubling the Chiefs in total yards.
This year, the famous Super Bowl halftime show was performed by Rihanna, who gave a dazzling showing while suspended high above the field with a crew of white-clad dancers. She performed signature hits such as “Umbrella,” “Work” and “Diamonds,” while later revealing the only guest appearance was her incoming second child.
After the halftime festivities, the audience turned its attention to what would be an action-packed second half.
The Chiefs, down by two touchdowns, needed to gain momentum. They did, advancing the ball to the 1-yard line before running-back Isiah Pacheco ran in for a touchdown, bringing the game to 24-21. The rest of the third was relatively quiet, with the only other scoring play coming on a 33-yard field goal by Philadelphia kicker Jake Elliot. The Eagles thus entered the fourth quarter with a slim 27-21 lead.
That lead rapidly evaporated within three minutes of the fourth, as Mahomes completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kadarius Toney, and an extra point made it 28-27 Chiefs.
After the Eagles failed to meet a first down, Toney proved pivotal again, returning a Philadelphia punt for a Super Bowl record of 65 yards. He weaved in and out of the Eagles’ incoming defenders before finally being taken down at the 5-yard line, and Kansas City looked poised to score again with around ten minutes left on the clock. Mahomes threw an outside pass to undefended wide receiver Skyy Moore, and the lead grew to 35-27.
The Eagles would not be put down without a fight, as they strived for an impressive drive highlighted by a 45-yard pass from Hurts to wide receiver DeVonta Smith, making it at the 2-yard line.
Hurts then ran for his Super Bowl record-breaking third rushing touchdown, bringing the score to 35-33. The Eagles elected for the obvious 2-point play to tie the game, and Hurts ran a slant route into the endzone to tie the game at 35-35 with five minutes remaining.
The Chiefs had plenty of time to move up the field and score, and they got to the red zone thanks to some key Mahomes passing and Pacheco runs. On a crucial third-and-eighth with under two minutes left, Mahomes missed a pass in the endzone. Fortunately for Kansas City, a controversial holding call against Philadelphia gave the Chiefs a first down, which allowed them to kill the clock until a 27-yard field goal by Butker gave them a 3-point lead with 11 seconds remaining.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Eagles did not complete its one hail-mary throw to win, and the Chiefs took home their second championship in the past four years, their third Super Bowl all-time. Patrick Mahomes received MVP honors and continues establishing himself as his generation’s premier quarterback.
After a thrilling, high-scoring match, the controversial holding call ultimately mired an absolute classic championship game. Whether you watched the football or the ads, it was undoubtedly a night to remember.