Jalen Hurts’ two-point conversion for the Eagles levelled the scores with minutes remaining in Super Bowl LVII.(Getty images: Carmen Mandato)
There’s no need to belabor an introduction to what will undoubtedly be a deeply frustrating night, week, and month for Eagles fans.
Let’s overreact to a painful loss:
1. This loss will haunt them for a while
The Eagles should be two-time Super Bowl champions. Instead, they’re going to wear a truly embarrassing Super Bowl loss for quite some time.
For a team that spent much of the 2022 NFL regular season, and all of the postseason, as the sport’s most impressive team, so much went wrong in the second half.
It was everything.
Jonathan Gannon didn’t make any adjustments, and looked wholly unprepared for the way the Chiefs attacked his defense in the second half.
Nick Sirianni started making outright bad decisions – wasting timeouts, punting when he should go for it, simply getting overwhelmed by the moment. At one point he called up a designed pass attempt to Zach Pascal in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
The defense was unable to make a single stop. The pass rush evaporated. The offense sputtered.
For 30 minutes the Eagles were very clearly the better team, and even though the third quarter was underwhelming they still held a lead with 15 minutes to go. And then it all collapsed.
I know Patrick Mahomes is brilliant. I know Andy Reid is a genius. But you can’t explain this one away. You would have the optoin if they’d been getting swamped from the jump, but the Eagles were controlling this thing. Andy Reid was the one making mistakes in the first half, not Sirianni. Hurts was playing the best football we’ve seen from his young career, in charge of everything and physically dominant.
And then it fizzled, and they’ll have to ask themselves why for the next seven months.
You have to call ’em as you see ’em, and I see this one as a out-and-out choke job. Brutal.
2. Jalen Hurts proved everything
Jalen Hurts, in his second season as a starting quarterback, just rolled into Arizona and put on a masterclass. He just happened to lose.
The guy simply doesn’t flinch. He’s built for the biggest stage, and he’s turned himself into the NFL’s ultimate weapon. It’s not his fault his team let him down.
On Sunday evening he did everything well.
You could tell from the Eagles’ first drive that he was dialed in. His early throws were on the money, exactly where he needed them to be, including on key third down conversions. His running was methodical yet explosive, just like it was all year long. His deep ball placement was spectacular, including a plain ol’ dime to DeVonta Smith that didn’t even count, through no fault of Hurts.
Even when he made a catastrophic mistake, fumbling the ball away for six points as the Chiefs scooped and scored, Hurts didn’t flinch. His mindset is part of what makes him an ultimate weapon. He is never satisfied, even when he’s lighting defenses up and making touchdowns look way too easy.
It’s why he’s not just a weapon, but the Eagles’ entire system. And it’s why, despite the loss, the Eagles have to be so happy with the way their franchise QB played in his first-ever Super Bowl.
His legs are the reason his guys are able to get that extra half-step on a defender in their route, always threatening. His eyes are the reason his pass-catchers always seem to be in perfect position, because he throws it when they are. His arm is sneaky; when the offensive line gives him that extra second to load up and launch one, he often hits his target with a direct hit.
And that mentality – never blink, even in the fact of imminent danger – is also the system. The Eagles were steamrolled by Patrick Mahomes & Co. on the Chiefs’ first drive, and that could’ve snowballed. Instead they got a stop to force a field goal, and then followed the Birds’ second touchdown drive with another big stop. They got after Mahomes, even hobbled him. And after his fumble, Hurts returned with a long scoring drive basically all thanks to his arm and legs.
This is what it looks like when a player fully realizes his potential. He’s surrounded by elite talent, and he’s being coached by great minds, but Hurts is the engine that drives everything on that field. And on the biggest stage in American sports, he hit the gas and never looked back. It’s a shame he was undone by forces out of his control.
3. Yes, you can be angry at the penalty
Gonna keep it short and sweet here.
You can be mad at the Eagles and still recognize that the NFL’s referee crew completely botched the end of this game with a pathetic, gutless, embarrassing penalty call.
That’s simply unacceptable and the Eagles should be calling every league office tomorrow morning.
4. DeVonta Smith won’t be slept on next year
The huge story of the year for the Eagles’ passing game was A.J. Brown, and for good reason. He was the team’s leading receiver, he was a monster who jumped off the screen with big play after big play, and he was the new name in town. It made sense.
But DeVonta Smith quietly had an incredible regular season – 95 catches, 1,196 yards, 7 TD – which, by most any other player or on any other team, would’ve been a headline-grabber.
After Sunday night, he won’t be on the periphery for much longer.
Smith took a monster hit on the Eagles’ opening drive, but the Slim Reaper bounced back and just kept putting himself in position to make incredible plays – and Hurts kept finding him. His final line – seven catches for 100 yards – was excellent, and it could’ve been even more insane if his deserving helmet catch had counted.
His enormous 45-yard reception in the fourth quarter to put the Birds in scoring position, a catch that led to a tie game with five minutes to play, was a life preserver for an Eagles team struggling to hold on as the Chiefs threatened to pull away.
The Eagles need to figure out WR3, because Quez Watkins simply isn’t the answer. But the Eagles have the best wide receiver duo in the NFL and I have a feeling 2023 could be Smith’s true breakout season in the national conscious.
Hopefully that breakout will actually lead to the promised land.