You gotta love sports!
The 2022 NFL season finale delivered on the sport's biggest stage, as the Kansas City Chiefs outlasted the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, 38-35. Though one particular aspect of the contest's final stanza left something to be desired -- more on that below -- you can't ask for much more from a ring game.
Were you not entertained?! I certainly was. And my takes are still flowing at full throttle. Imagine I'm not alone in that sense. So here are my biggest takeaways, Schein Nine style.
1) Super Bowl LVII was an instant classic
The quarterbacks, who just so happened to claim the top two spots in MVP voting, both dazzled, combining for 600 total yards and seven touchdowns. With 73 combined points, this was the third highest-scoring Super Bowl ever. That said, it wasn't just an offensive showcase -- defense and special teams played a role. In fact, in the fourth quarter, Kansas City's D induced a massive three-and-out from Philadelphia, setting up the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. This baby had plenty of thrills, from a whole bunch of folks on both sides.
Down 24-14 at halftime, the Chiefs overcame the double-digit deficit to win by going touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal after the break. We saw a defensive touchdown, a successful two-point conversion that tied the game with just over five minutes remaining, and a magical run by a one-legged superstar.
The game was a ratings bonanza, and rightfully so: The two best teams from 2022 gave us quite a show early in 2023. Bravo!
2) Andy Reid is on the Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches
Reid winning his second Super Bowl is a rather gigantic deal. He has now coached in four total Super Bowls. He took the Eagles to five NFC title games in 14 years -- and he's made it to Championship Sunday five more times over a decade in Kansas City. Reid won 58.3 percent of his games in Philly. In K.C.? He has prevailed in a staggering 72.2 percent of contests. Jog the mental rolodex to remember how flat both franchises were when he took over: The Eagles were 3-13 in the season before Reid was hired, while the pre-Reid Chiefs went 2-14.
Reid now has 22 playoff wins, which is second in NFL history, trailing only Bill Belichick's 31 victories. Reid's 247 regular-season wins rank fifth all time. The man's won 13 division titles, including the last seven AFC West crowns. Not to mention his immeasurable impact as an offensive innovator and quarterback guru. Reid's "First 15" play scripts are cheat codes. His ability to maximize different skill sets -- while simultaneously keeping everything loose and fun -- is special. And Reid put on a coaching clinic in the second half of Super Bowl LVII.
With all due respect to Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs, these are the four figures on my Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches:
- Bill Belichick
- Vince Lombardi
- Bill Walsh
- Andy Reid
Check the era. Factor in the salary cap. And give my guy Andy Reid his flowers.
3) Patrick Mahomes just finished the best season of his transcendent career
It's worth noting that, back in the preseason, I picked the Chiefs to make the playoffs -- as a wild card! With the Chargers winning the division, and the Bills winning the conference title/Super Bowl. Wow, was I wrong.
Honestly, I can't crush myself over that early-September forecast. The Chiefs had just lost the most explosive wide receiver in football (Tyreek Hill), as well as their top cover man (Charvarius Ward). The roster was in something of a transitional state on both sides of the football -- especially in the air game, which is kind of important in today's pass-happy league. That said, it helps to have the best passer in the NFL today -- and No. 15 in red, white and gold is most definitely that.
Philadelphia had the better all-around team. The Eagles were favored to win the game. But the magic of Mahomes is just undeniable.
The Chiefs went into halftime trailing by 10 points, with Mahomes having just aggravated his ankle injury. Sure felt like Kansas City was on the ropes. Then Mahomes did what Mahomes does, pitching a perfect game in the final two quarters. After halftime, the Chiefs quarterback completed 13 of his 14 passes -- with the one incompletion being a throwaway -- for 93 yards and two touchdowns, equaling a 133.9 passer rating. The cherry on top: The aforementioned 26-yard scramble on the final drive, setting up Harrison Butker's game-winning field goal.
Vintage Mahomes against a loaded defense. One ankle? No Tyreek? No problem. Superman did his thing.
Mahomes became the first player since Kurt Warner in 1999 to win the regular-season MVP and Super Bowl in the same season. He led the league in passing yards (5,250) and passing touchdowns (41). It's one of the greatest single seasons in NFL history -- and yes, the finest campaign to date of a Hall of Fame career that's really just getting going. With that said ...
4) Patrick Mahomes is a top-five quarterback of all time
All week long leading up to Super Bowl LVII, I sensed we were a Chiefs win away from a freight train of Patrick Mahomes takes that could not be deemed hyperbole. Now we're here, and I'm ready to put mine in bold:
At age 27, Patrick Mahomes is already one of the five greatest quarterbacks in football history.
It's true. This cat has been a starting QB for five NFL seasons. He's won five division titles, while also making five Championship Sundays and three Super Bowls. He's now 2-1 on Super Bowl Sunday, and that second Lombardi Trophy puts him on a different level. Individually, he possesses two regular-season MVPs and a pair of Super Bowl MVPs, predictably making the Pro Bowl in each of his five starting seasons. Do I really need to go on?
In the grand scope of NFL history, nine quarterbacks stand out to me:
Those are my nine. What's the pecking order? That's a difficult question -- one for a different day. But Mahomes, on résumé and feel, has a spot in the top five. I'm now sure of that.
5) Jalen Hurts is a certified star
I just waxed poetic about Mahomes for 500-something words, but the truth is that Kansas City had the second-best quarterback on the field Sunday.
Yes, Hurts had a fumble returned for a touchdown. That hurt -- badly. But it was a fluky play. Otherwise, the third-year pro was absolutely sensational. The box score speaks volumes -- 27-of-38 passing (71%) for 304 yards and a touchdown; 15 rushes for 70 yards and three more scores -- but it still doesn't tell the entire story. How many clutch throws did the Eagles' quarterback make? How many times did he befuddle Kansas City's defense in big moments with his legs? This guy's the total package, with stellar leadership traits to top it off.
Coming into Sunday's game, I didn't know if Hurts could keep up with Mahomes. He proved otherwise, actually outplaying his highly decorated counterpart under the brightest lights in sports. It's kind of a monster deal. I mean, how many NFC quarterbacks are better than this 24-year-old?
6) James Bradberry didn't deserve a flag
Yep. The defensive holding call made me sick. It was the fly in Super Bowl LVII's ointment.
Third-and-8 at the Eagles' 15-yard line. Less than two minutes remaining. A classic Super Bowl tied at 35 apiece. When Mahomes' pass fell incomplete in the end zone, it appeared Kansas City would have a very makeable field goal to take the lead, while giving Philadelphia about 1:40 and two timeouts to work with. We were heading for a stellar finish, one more chance for Hurts to take the Eagles on his back and slay the Mahomes beast.
But no. A flag was thrown -- a flag that hadn't been thrown in similar circumstances earlier in the game. Brutal. With a new set of downs, Kansas City burned the clock before converting a chip-shot field goal. What an anticlimactic finish to an otherwise-thrilling championship.
You just cannot throw that flag in that moment. Bradberry gave a little tug of the jersey -- something that, to the cornerback's credit, he owned in the postgame -- but that little tug can't be the action that puts a Super Bowl to bed. There was nothing egregious or over the top. I totally agreed with Greg Olsen's take on the FOX broadcast. You simply cannot decide a spectacular Super Bowl with a ticky-tack flag.
7) Nick Sirianni just took a hit
He just does. Eagles GM Howie Roseman stockpiled incredible talent on this roster. Then Sirianni mean-mugged his way through a highly favorable postseason before the Super Bowl. The Giants are brilliantly coached, but they just didn't have the players to hang with Philly in the Divisional Round. Not even close. And then, on Championship Sunday, the 49ers just ran out of quarterbacks. On Radio Row last week, Deebo Samuel told me San Francisco would have won by double digits if Brock Purdy hadn't gone down. Maybe a little on the aggressive side, but I do think the Niners would have won that game.
So it was something of a glide path to the Lombardi Trophy game. Then on Super Bowl Sunday, Sirianni's team blew a double-digit lead. The head coach's game management was goofy. Meanwhile, the defense didn't make a play, failing to log a single sack or turnover, which reflects poorly on freshly minted Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon, as well.
Sirianni deserves plenty of credit for guiding Philadelphia to a 14-3 season -- and nabbing the NFC's No. 1 seed -- in just his second year in the big chair. But this finish leaves a real sour taste in the mouth. I'll be quite interested to see how Sirianni and his Eagles bounce back in 2023.
8) Rihanna was amazing
Rihanna sang hit after hit -- pulsating banger after banger! -- with stunning visuals and her inimitable cool on full display. And she did so with a baby on board! What a legend.
I don't want to hear how you needed additional feature performers or extra bells and whistles. Rihanna was terrific, giving us a top-five Super Bowl halftime show.
9) The Chiefs need to host the Bengals in the 2023 NFL Kickoff Game
After the 2022 NFL schedule was released last year, Mike North, the NFL's vice president of broadcast planning, told me on my SiriusXM Radio show that the league makes a conscious effort to schedule a fantastic Week 1 -- and particularly never takes the allure of the NFL Kickoff Game for granted. So, it's time to take a look at the Chiefs' 2023 home opponents, and start to analyze who'd be the most compelling draw on Thursday night of Week 1. Those foes, in alphabetical order:
- Buffalo Bills
- Chicago Bears
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Denver Broncos
- Detroit Lions
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Miami Dolphins
- Philadelphia Eagles
Whole lot of enticing options for the 2023 NFL season opener. Obviously, an instant rematch against the Eagles would be something. You can't go wrong with the Bills or Chargers, who offer two electric quarterback matchups. And the Raiders could be pretty frisky, too, depending on who's under center. Sean Payton's Broncos will carry some intrigue, as well.