The latest stage production of the Super Bowl lived up to its hyperdrive excess.

There was the usual array of anthems and strategic displays of flag waving as the league aggressively marketed the Stars and Stripes to wrap itself in patriotic virtue.

In the halftime show Rihanna revealed her pregnancy, making an unofficial announcement via her physical appearance (the baby bump) while hovering high above the field on a Smash Bros. platform. The opening song was her classic, “Bitch Better Have My Money.” What’s up with the Bitch reference? Was she referring to commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL’s required payment for this memorable halftime extravaganza?

The commercials were fine and generally pleasing but you’ll have to head elsewhere for reviews.

This was just a tad different than the very first Super Bowl. Back then old-school trumpeter Al Hirt played the first halftime gig for free. Broadway star Carol Channing (yikes!) got on stage to belt out a toon. (Why, Hello Dolly!) Two men went flying around the Los Angeles Coliseum in jetpacks. The show included traditional marching bands plus the release of hundreds of pigeons (???) and balloons.  Absolutely bizarre. Hey, it was 1967 and LSD was becoming a recreational drug. Looking back, what did we expect?

In Super Bowl 57 the field itself tried to take over and upstage the players, with athletes from the Chiefs and Eagles slip-sliding throughout the game as if competing on a layer of ice, or stray banana peels, or coatings of floor polish, or a slick pool of motor oil. The NFL reportedly had someone growing this special grass field for the last two years – presumably Cheech & Chong.

The officials tried to take over and make the game about themselves instead of Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts or the Kelce Brothers. And by gosh they nearly did it by throwing a debatable, late-game flag on the Eagles for defensive holding. The Philadelphia police were about to get busy. The questionable third-down intervention enabled the Kansas City offense to stay on the field, consume precious time and move in closer for the chip-shot field goal that gave KC its 38-35 lead. Getting the ball back after Kansas City killed all but a few seconds on the clock, the Eagles didn’t have enough time to respond.

For whatever it’s worth, Philadelphia cornerback James Bradberry admitted to committing the penalty against Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. “It was a holding,” he told the media pack after the game. “I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide.”

No. The sliding was limited to the players’ having to navigate the NFL’s disgraceful playing surface at the stadium, turning them into dudes that were training for the luge.

But in the end the Chiefs recovered from a mediocre first half and a 10-point deficit to earn their come-from-behind victory and a second Super Bowl championship in the last four years.

And the Chiefs and Eagles reclaimed the stage to provide an exciting and thrilling contest that was undecided until the final moments. Here are some Winners & Losers, Heroes & Villians.


Patrick Mahomes. He was virtually flawless in the second half, leading the Chiefs to three touchdowns and a field goal in their four possessions. Coming back strong after reinjuring his sprained ankle late in the first half, Mahomes completed 13 of 14 passes over the final two quarters, with his only miss coming on an intentional throwaway. Two of his three touchdown passes came after halftime, and his second-half passer rating was an impeccable 133.9.

On top of that, Mahomes set up two crucial second-half scores, including the winning field goal, with his timely scrambles. For the game Mahomes completed 78 percent of his passes for 182 yards, three touchdowns and a 131.8 passer rating. He added 44 important rushing yards. He did not turn the ball over. And all of the football-hero plays transpired on an ankle that required intense attention from the medics at halftime.

Kansas City became only the second team in NFL history to win after being down 10 points or more. (The first to do it was the New England team that overcame a 28-3 deficit to win 34-28 in Super Bowl 51. Including Sunday’s comeback, Mahomes has trailed by 10-plus points in 24 games during his career. The Chiefs record in those against-the-odds affairs is 14-10. No other quarterback in NFL history is even close to having a .500 record when trailing by 10+ points in games. Mahomes did it again Sunday by setting up the clincher on a 12-play, 66-yard drive that featured his improbable 26-yard gallop. “He’s the toughest son of a gun you’ve ever met,” KC tight end Travis Kelce said.

In five seasons as Kansas City’s starter, Mahomes has competed in three Super Bowls, winning two. He’s led the Chiefs to five consecutive AFC Conference Championship Game appearances. He has two NFL MVP awards, two Super Bowl MVP awards, and has been selected to two first-team All-Pro squads and five Pro Bowls. In his five seasons as a starter, the Chiefs lead the NFL with 64 wins and a .780 winning percentage in the regular season, and they’re a league-best 11-3 (.786) in the postseason.

Mahomes has separated himself from a list of great, Hall of Fame caliber quarterbacks that have led their teams to one Super Bowl triumph – with no sequel – over the last 27 seasons: Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Steve Young. Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are still playing, but they’re both stuck at one Super Bowl victory. And then there are the two Hall of Fame quarterbacks that never won a Super Bowl including Dan Marino and Dan Fouts.

Mahomes is also separating himself from his current challengers, having a 2-0 lead in Super Bowl titles over Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence Dak Prescott and Jalen Hurts.

Mahomes won’t turn 28 years old until Sept. 17.

Andy Reid. Kansas City’s big man became the 14th NFL head coach to win multiple Super Bowls and did it against the team (Philadelphia) that fired him. He’s the only head coach in league history to bag 100 regular-season wins for two franchises. He’s the only head coach with 10 or more playoff wins for multiple organizations. Reid’s 22 postseason wins are second all-time to Bill Belichick (31.) And with Sunday’s win, Reid became just the fourth head coach with more than 200 regular-season wins and two Super Bowl victories.The Others are Belichick, Tom Landry and Don Shula.

This may have been Reid’s best coaching job. With the postseason included his 2022 Chiefs finished 17-3 this season despite trading supreme playmaker Tyreek Hill to Miami last offseason. Reid reimagined the offense by installing a passing game that centered on short and intermediate and more use of spread formations. And after making the changes, Kansas City scored 496 regular-season points – 19 more than they rolled up with Hill in 2021.

The Kansas City offensive line. Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., left guard Joe Thuney, center Creed Humphrey, right guard Trey Smith and right tackle Andrew Wylie were outstanding. For two weeks they heard about Philadelphia’s dominant offensive line that was universally praised as the best O-line in the league for 2022. Well, in Super Bowl 57 the Chiefs clapped back by pounding the Eagles for 158 yards rushing at an average of 6.1 yards per run. After rushing just seven times for 39 yards in the first half, the KC line moved Philly out of their way for 119 yards on 19 carries in the second half. Reid and the coaches deserve credit by switching tactics in the second half by putting more emphasis on the ground game. It worked. In outscoring Philadelphia 24-11 over the final two quarters, the Chiefs had more runs (19) than passes (14.)

A Philadelphia defense that led the NFL in sacks (70) during the regular season – with eight more in the postseason – failed to sack Mahomes in Super Bowl 57. Entering the game, the Eagles had sacked opponents at the highest rate by a team since at least 2000, per the Athletic and Tru Media.

Jalen Hurts. OK, Philadelphia’s dynamite quarterback dropped the ball (literally) for a fumble that was scooped up by Mizzou football alum Nick Bolton and returned 36 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14. But Hurts played phenomenally well overall. In my view – and with apologies to Chuck Howley – this was the best performance in Super Bowl history by a member of the losing team.

Hurts became the first player ever — regular season or playoffs — to throw for 300 passing yards and run for 70 yards and three touchdowns in a game. He set a new Super Bowl record for most rushing yards by a quarterback and tied Terrell Davis’ record for three rushing touchdowns in a single Super Bowl. Hurts gave the Eagles a chance to win by muscling his way to a touchdown – and doing it again on the successful two-point conversion – to tie it at 35-35. But Mahomes had the last chance to win it, and that’s never a pleasant experience for the opposing team. Sunday, hurt would have defeated any QB on the planet except one – Mahomes. Hurts completed 28 of 37 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown in the air. That means he accounted for 374 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage.

The Chiefs defense: Hurts got a lot done as a runner, but KC’s defenders limited the so-called traditional rushing attack, with Philly’s running backs combining for 45 yards on 17 carries – an average of only 2.6 yards per rush. The Chiefs were credited with only three pressures on Hurts overall but did sack him twice. At least the KC defense — unlike the Philadelphia’s — got a sack in this game.

The Chiefs were disruptive enough to slow Philly’s rate of scoring. In their final five possessions the Eagles settled for two field goals, had a three-and-out punt, scored one touchdown, and had a futile passing attempt on the end-of-game sequence. And check out this trend: After scoring two touchdowns in the first 12 minutes 26 seconds of the game, the Eagles scored two touchdowns over the final 47 minutes 24 seconds. That’s a big difference, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo made the effective adjustments that made it possible.

Travis Kelce: The Chiefs’ future Hall of Fame tight end won family bragging rights by defeating big brother Jason Kelce and the Eagles. Kelce caught a touchdown that established a new all-time postseason record for tight ends. Kelce leads all tight ends in NFL history for most postseason catches (133), receiving yards (1,548) and touchdown receptions (16.) Until Sunday Kelce had been tied with Rob Gronkowski with 15 postseason touchdown grabs.

Brett Veach and Kadarius Toney: The Kansas City wide receiver caught a five-yard touchdown pass that put the Chiefs ahead, 28-27, early in the 4th quarter. After a Philly three-and-out, he fielded a short punt and zig-zagged on a 65-yard return that set up Mahomes’ third TD pass of the day, a four-yarder to Skyy Moore, to give KC a 35-27 advantage. Not a bad way to end the 2022 season for Toney, a former first-round draft choice who was dumped off to the Chiefs by the Giants in exchange for two draft choices back on Oct. 28.

The Toney steal was a recent example of Veach’s brilliance with personnel decisions. The Tyreek Hill trade is his most famous move, but Veach has done masterful work in retooling the team’s roster. The KC delegation that won Super Bowl 57 had only 13 players that were there when the Chiefs defeated San Francisco in Super Bowl 54. And only 18 players were still around from the KC team that lost to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl 55. The Chiefs prevailed over the Eagles with considerable help from young players drafted by Veach. And it was Veach who rebuilt the KC offensive line after the aging, injury-ravaged unit got stomped in the Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay.

Nick Bolton: Per Pro Football Focus the former Mizzou linebacker played all 74 defensive snaps for Kansas City, made seven solo tackles and had two tackle assists, was charted as the first defender to the ball carrier on five plays. Bolton didn’t give up a single first down in coverage, scored on that 36-yard fumble return and was PFF’s highest-graded defensive player (both teams) in the game. Score another one for Veach; the Kansas City GM got Bolton as the second round, 58th overall, in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Brandon Aiyuk, the 49ers’ wide receiver. Why? Because last week he said this: “Hypothetically speaking, if I were to bet on this game, I would take everything I own, get it in cash and put my money on the Kansas City Chiefs.” And Aiyuk made a second prediction, saying the Chiefs would “expose the Philadelphia defense.” He went 2-for-2. Maybe he passed his pregame investment advice to friends and family.


The Philadelphia defense: What happened? Ranked No. 1 overall in the NFL. Led the league in sacks and pressure rate. Ranked No. 1 in pass defense. Were viewed as the group that had more imposing depth than any NFL defense. This was a defense that supposedly fixed its flaws against the run. This was the defense that allowed an average of three points and 195 yards in winning NFC postseason games against the Giants and 49ers. As previously cited, the Eagles had no sacks and few pressures on Sunday, were trampled on the ground, were scorched for three touchdown passes, and didn’t stop the Chiefs offense from scoring on any of KC’s four second-half possessions. The Eagles hardly silenced critics that had pointed to their tinsel-soft schedule in 2022. Mahomes is an awesome talent, but he played a perfect second half but that would never happen to a truly elite defense.

Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon: over the weekend he was portrayed as the clear frontrunner for Arizona’s open head-coaching job. Maybe that will still happen. But Philly’s second-half collapse won’t help his candidacy. The Eagles lost this game because of his defense, which was plundered for 221 yards and 24 points on only four possessions. Minus the KC touchdown that came after Toney’s long punt return that set the Chiefs up at the 5-yard line, Philadelphia yielded an average of 72 yards on Kansas City’s other three possessions. And after the game the Chiefs talked about noticing a flaw in Philly’s defensive set up on Mahomes’ final two touchdown passes. One stop by Gannon’s top-ranked defense … just one stop … and the Eagles are Super Bowl champs.

Vic Fangio. All weekend, the national football pundit class was hyperventilating over the news of Fangio, the former Denver head coach, signing a two-week contract with Philadelphia to help the Eagles stop Reid-Mahomes with his vaunted expertise. Fangio, you see, had coached against the Chiefs during his time in Denver. SECRET WEAPON! Um, OK. If y’all sat so. I must have missed all of Fangio’s success against Kansas City. In his three seasons as Broncos head coach his team was 0-6 against the Chiefs and gave up an average of 29 points per game. Yeah, Fangio really did a number on Mahomes in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Mahomes received a perfect second-half performance score from the graders at Pro Football Focus. The Chiefs offense only scored 31 points. Way to shut ’em down with that secret-agent man plan, Vic!

Roger Goodell. His NFL spent significant money and invested two years in growing and tending to hopelessly inadequate sod that was an injury risk to the players and an embarrassment to professional sports. “I’m not going to lie,” said Philadelphia pass rusher Haason Reddick. “It was the worst field I ever played on.” And in the days before the Super Bowl, the commissioner defended the league’s incompetent officials, saying “when you look at officiating, I don’t think it’s ever been better.” Thank you, Commissioner Pinocchio.

Sean Payton: the new Denver coach found out Sunday – as we all did – that Andy Reid isn’t retiring and will keep rolling up victories in Kansas City as the top head coach in the league. Payton’s new assignment includes two annual games against Kansas City in the AFC West. Since the start of the 2015 season the Chiefs are a combined 42-6 in games against division mates Broncos, Chargers and Raiders.

Philadelphia’s chances of getting back to the next Super Bowl: It was a very tough loss for a very good Eagles team. And the Eagles should be a Super Bowl contender next season. But remember this: only one that lost the Super Bowl over the last 25 years made it back to the big game in the follow-up season. (New England with Tom Brady in 2018.) Before that it was the Buffalo Bills team that played in four consecutive Super Bowls (losing each time) from 1990 through 1993. And keep in mind that a first–place NFC team hasn’t repeated as division champions since the Eagles (coached by Andy Reid) did so in 2004.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

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All stats used here were sourced from Football Reference, Football Outsiders, and Pro Football Focus.