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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Doug Farrar

Every turning point in Super Bowl LVII

For the second time in his three Super Bowl appearances, Patrick Mahomes overcame a double-digit deficit to give the Kansas City Chiefs the Lombardi Trophy. Down 21-14 at the half, and with a serious disadvantage in time of possession, Mahomes did what he does in the second half — he took over, did all his wizard stuff, and brought the Chiefs back from the edge of defeat with a 38-35 victory.

It was a majestic performance, though Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts may have actually outdone Mahomes in defeat. While Mahomes completed 21 of 27 passes for 187 yards, three touchdowns, and a passer rating of 131.8, Hurts completed 27 of 38 passes for 304 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 103.4.

Where Hurts overwhelmed everybody in the game was on the ground — he ran the ball 15 times for 70 yards and three touchdowns.

But in the end, it was the things the Chiefs did right in the second half — and one penalty we’ll be talking about for a VERY long time — that gave the Chiefs the edge.

Here is every turning point in one of the most thrilling Super Bowl’s we’ve ever seen.

Philly's opening drive.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

On the Eagles’ opening drive, the Chiefs’ defense was presented with the same problem every defense has against Jalen Hurts — do you go all-out to pressure him, or do you mush-rush to keep him in the pocket and away from the open field? Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo alternated between both strategies, but when he called more conventional pressures, Hurts bit back by either running, or throwing first- and second-read passes to open receivers. Hurts completed four of five passes for 54 yards on the opening drive that went 75 yards on 11 plays, and ended with Hurts running for a one-yard touchdown.

Travis Kelce's touchdown.

The Chiefs countered on their opening drive with concepts that left tight end Travis Kelce open all over the field, and this was a failing on the part of Philly defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and his staff. The better play would have been to deal with Kelce by bouncing him off the line of scrimmage with a linebacker, and having that linebacker hand him off in coverage. Instead, Kelce was unobstructed on the way to the end zone on this 18-yard touchdown pass.

The Eagles were in Cover-1 against the Chiefs’ 11 personnel, and on the right side of the formation, cornerback Darius Slay and safety Marcus Epps were trying to deal with Kelce and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Kelce’s pre-snap motion inside put Epps instead of Slay on Kelce, and Epps just couldn’t keep up.

Epps tried to bump Kelce at the line, but you gotta do better than this.

Kansas City's first-quarter missed field goal.

(Michael Chow/The Republic via USA TODAY Sports)

The Chiefs had driven down to the Philadelphia 24-yard line with 2:32 left in the first quarter, but then, Eagles edge-rusher Haason Reddick (more on him in a minute) pressured Mahomes, forcing an incomplete pass. On fourth-and-3 from the 24, Andy Reid decided to take the ball out of Mahomes’ hands, and rest things on the foot of kicker Harrison Butker. However, Butker doinked the 42-yard attempt, and the Chiefs had a wasted drive.

A.J. Brown's perfect touchdown adjustment.

(Michael Chow/The Republic via USA TODAY Sports)

On Philly’s subsequent drive, Hurts hit receiver A.J. Brown on this incredible 45-yard touchdown pass, which proved how valuable Brown is to the offense with an amazing adjustment to get the ball in his hands. That put the score at 14-7, and the Chiefs were starting to look vulnerable.

Nick Bolton's scoop-and-score fumble return touchdown.

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

With 9:48 left in the first half, the Chiefs’ defense got their team back in the game with this 36-yard touchdown return of a Hurts fumble. This prevented the game from getting too far out of hand.

Haason Reddick's two third-down first half pressures.

(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Eagles edge-rusher Haason Reddick came into Super Bowl LVII with 19.5 sacks on the season, and 9.5 of those sacks, as well as 26 of his pressures, have come on third down. So, it should have come as no surprise to the Chiefs that Reddick would be a force on third down in Super Bowl LVII.

Reddick has been exactly that, ending two Chiefs drives in the first half with pressures on third down.

There was the Patrick Mahomes incompletion to Joe Fortson with 2:32 left in the first quarter that was predicated by a Reddick pressure, and then, there was this Mahomes incompletion to JuJu Smith-Schuster on third-and-8 with 13:35 left in the second quarter. On this play, Reddick stunted inside late, which is something the Eagles have liked to do with Reddick quite a bit this season.

Reddick has been the NFL’s most dynamic sack artist this season, and the Chiefs’ offensive line will have to be on point with him throughout the game if they want those third downs to become first downs.

Jalen Hurts' 28-yard run... and what the NFL may have missed.

(Michael Chow/The Republic via USA TODAY Sports)

With 5:28 left in the second quarter of the game, the Eagles had fourth-and-5 from the Kansas City 44-yard line, and quarterback Jalen Hurts trucked Kansas City’s defense for 28 yards.

An impressive play, and one that led to a four-yard touchdown run five plays later. But if you watch the end of the play, Hurts was slammed to the turf, and the back of his head clearly hit the ground hard. Hurts asked for assistance getting up, and the game simply continued. He should have been taken out of the game until he could go through the NFL’s “concussion protocol.”

Given the NFL’s abhorrent history with head trauma, you’d think the league would want to be careful at this point, but you can ask Tua Tagovailoa about that.

Isiah Pacheco's third-quarter touchdown.

(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Chiefs seventh-round rookie running back Isiah Pacheco has been one of the NFL’s most efficient backs in the second half of the regular season into the postseason, so it came as no surprise that he was handed the ball on this one-yard touchdown with 9:30 left in the third quarter. This was the culmination of a 10-play, 75-yard drive that the Chiefs really needed to get the game back close, with a 24-21 Eagles lead.

Nick Bolton's second touchdown return that wasn't.

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

With 9:30 left in the third quarter, Jalen Hurts threw a quick pass to running back Miles Sanders, and it appeared for a moment that cornerback L’Jarius Sneed jarred the ball loose, which led to ANOTHER fumble return touchdown by linebacker Nick Bolton. Alas, the call of a touchdown on the field was reversed upon review when it was determined that Sanders didn’t make a catch — probably that he didn’t make a “football move” after turning upfield. That would have put the Chiefs up 28-24 with the extra point, but alas.

Dallas Goedert's catch that was.

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

Eight plays after that non-touchdown, the Eagles took a delay of game penalty, which gave them third-and-14 at the Kansas City 47-yard line. Philly head coach Nick Sirianni has never been shy about creating big plays out of third- or fourth-down calls, and this play with 6:13 left in the third quarter was the result.

There was some question as to whether Goedert had control of the ball before he went out of bounds, and Andy Reid had the play reviewed, but the catch was upheld.

Kicker Jake Elliott booted a 33-yard field goal at the end of that drive, and the Eagles led, 27-21.

And that’s when everything started to fall apart for the Eagles, and come together for the Chiefs.

Patrick Mahomes' touchdown pass to Kadarius Toney.

(Michael Chow/The Republic via USA TODAY Sports)

The Chiefs’ offense finally started to get into a groove on their next drive — amazing what happens when you actually possess the ball. Following Philly’s field goal, which put the game at 27-21 in the Eagles’ favor, Kansas City went on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with this five-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Kadarius Toney.

Now, it was 28-27, Chiefs, and it was the first time the Eagles had trailed in the entire postseason.

Kadarius Toney's punt return.

(Patrick Breen/The Republic via USA TODAY Sports)

The Eagles went three-and-out on their next drive, and with 10:33 left in the third quarter, Arryn Siposs punted the ball to Toney, who was ready to make another huge play with this unbelievable 65-yard punt return.

It was the longest punt return in Super Bowl history, and it set up the Chiefs’ next touchdown.

Skyy Moore's touchdown.

(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

The Chiefs had already blown Philly’s defense to the left side of the end zone to leave Toney wide open, and here’s how it looked when Mahomes hit Skyy Moore on this four-yard touchdown pass three plays later.

Now, the Chiefs were up 3527 with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles desperately needed SOMETHING big to happen.

Fortunately for them, SOMETHING big was about to do just that.

DeVonta Smith's huge fourth-quarter catch.

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Jalen Hurts was not going to go down in this game without a heavyweight fight. With 5:45 left in the fourth quarter, Hurts hit DeVonta Smith on this crucial 45-yard play in which cornerback L’Jarius Sneed was cheating inside, and Smith had a wide berth — almost scoring a touchdown.

Jalen Hurts' third rushing touchdown.

(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

One play after Smith’s huge catch, Hurts got in for a two-yard touchdown run — his third of the game. Hurts also scored on the two-point conversion, which tied the game at 35 with 5:20 left in the game.

Patrick Mahomes' 26-yard run.

(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite a high ankle sprain that was aggravated late in the second half, Mahomes ran 15 times for 76 yards and a touchdown. His most important run of the game came with 2:55 left in the game, which was tied, 35-35. The Chiefs had first-and-10 at the Philadelphia 43-yard line when Mahomes, bad hoof and all, went off on this 26-yard run.

That set up everything else that was about to happen… as things got a bit weird.

James Bradberry's holding penalty.

(AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

For those members of the Carl Cheffers non-fan club, and there are a lot of them, the Super Bowl’s referee’s holding call on Eagles cornerback James Bradberry with 1:54 left in the game was yet another example this season of the stripes ruining what was a compelling contest.

And when you look at the call and the situation, it’s hard to justify. The Chiefs had third-and-8 from the Philadelphia 15-yard line, and Patrick Mahomes threw incomplete to JuJu Smith-Schuster on a little whip route. By rights, the Chiefs would have kicked the go-ahead field goal there, and the Eagles would have had time to respond.

Instead, we got this.

Was it holding by the letter of the law? Perhaps. In any event, the penalty gave Kansas City first-and-10 from the Philadelphia 11-yard line, and the Chiefs ran the clock down to 11 seconds. At which point Harrison Butker made the 27-yard field goal.

Harrison Butker's game-winning field goal.

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

Butker missed a 42-yard field goal with 2:28 left in the first quarter. He wasn’t going to miss this one.

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