© Reuters. Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) runs with the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
By Steve Keating
GLENDALE, Ariz (Reuters) -Patrick Mahomes proved why he is the NFL’s Most Valuable Player as he shrugged off an ankle injury to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a dramatic 38-35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday to claim their second Super Bowl in four years.
Kansas City’s hopes of returning home with the Lombardi Trophy looked bleak late in the opening half when quarterback Mahomes appeared to re-injure the right ankle that had been a major worry coming into the game.
Grimacing in pain after a tackle, Mahomes hobbled off the field and slammed his helmet to the turf as the Chiefs headed into halftime trailing 24-14.
But when the teams returned after the break a resilient Mahomes produced a heroic effort, tossing two fourth-quarter touchdowns and engineering a final drive to set up Harrison Butker’s 27-yard game-winning field goal with eight seconds to play.
Mahomes, who also threw for a touchdown in the first half, had a total of 21 completions for 182 yards and rushed for 44-yards.
“I told you all this week there was nothing going to keep me off this football field,” said Mahomes after accepting the Super Bowl MVP award to go along with the NFL MVP honor he received on Thursday.
“It’s the Super Bowl, you can worry about getting healthy in the off-season.
“I fought through and we were able to win,”
There could be no better end to the NFL season than a championship game featuring the two teams with the best records and two dynamic young leaders in Mahomes and the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts – the first two Black quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl.
It was the type of intriguing matchup that drew a Who’s Who of industry, entertainment and sports to suburban Phoenix, with Elon Musk, Paul McCartney and LeBron James among the capacity crowd of 67,827.
Mahomes’ play against the NFL’s top-ranked defense was worth the price of admission alone, even if tickets were going for $3,200 on resale sites.
The 27-year-old has been described as a “magician” and an “escape artist” for his ability to avoid tacklers but on Sunday Mahomes showcased his courage and steel, playing through the pain and saying he did not take any painkillers.
“Well he’s the MVP. That’s all the needs to be said, right? MVP. And you saw it tonight,” said Kansas City coach Andy Reid. “He’s seen the greats and he strive to be the greatest.
“That’s what he wants to do, and that’s the way he goes about his business. He does it humbly.”
Hurts, another leading candidate for the NFL MVP award, turned in an almost equally dazzling performance, running for three touchdowns and a Super Bowl record 70 yards. He also threw for a touchdown.
While there were question marks over Mahomes’ ankle there was no doubting his determination as he started the third quarter by leading a 75-yard drive capped off by a one-yard run by Isiah Pacheco to cut the Philadelphia lead to 24-21.
Jake Elliott booted his second field goal to increase the Eagles’ advantage before Mahomes found Kadarius Toney with a five-yard touchdown strike for the Chiefs’ first lead of the night at 28-27.
Toney returned an Eagles punt 65-yards, the longest in Super Bowl history, to the Philadelphia five, where Mahomes found Skyy Moore for a four-yard touchdown to increase their lead to 35-27
But the Eagles were not about to wave the white flag, Hurts spotting a wide open Devonta Smith at the two before diving over for the touchdown himself.
Philadelphia tied the game 35-35 with a two-point conversion with five minutes to play.
The game got off to an explosive start with both teams scoring on their opening drives.
The Eagles got the ball first and Hurts, showing no signs of jitters on the big stage, engineered a clinical 75-yard drive with the 24-year-old powering over from the one for the touchdown.
Kansas City answered right back with Mahomes hitting his favorite target Travis Kelce with an 18-yard pass to cap their own 75-yard drive.
The fireworks continued into the second when Hurts, on the first play of the quarter, spotted A.J. Brown breaking free in the endzone and connected on a 45-yard touchdown.
After a brilliant start to the game Hurts made a major flub when the ball slipped out of his hand near mid-field and the Chiefs’ Nick Bolton scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown.
“We came up short, so it’s something that I know will motivate me,” said Hurts. “You either win or you learn, that’s how I feel.”
On the very next possession Hurts atoned for his howler, scampering four yards for another touchdown to cap off a drive he set up with 28-yard run.
Elliott kicked a 35-yard field goal on the final play of the half to send Philadelphia into the break 24-14.