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Kansas City is super again: Chiefs beat Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in 2023 Super Bowl

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz.
Christian Petersen
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Getty Images
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz.

The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions once again after a 38-35 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in a thrilling Super Bowl LVII.

This contest was evenly matched. On paper, the Eagles and Chiefs were the two best teams in the NFL this season (seeded number one in their conferences). They had identical records (16-3) and both had each scored 546 points. Coming into the Super Bowl, Philadelphia was a slight 1.5 point favorite.

The Eagles opened the game doing what they've done all season long: marched 75-yards down the field in 11 plays using a mix of passing, scrambling and rushing to score the opening touchdown (a Jalen Hurts QB sneak) just 4:51 into the first quarter.

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts at the line of scrimmage against the Philadelphia Eagles during Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz.
Christian Petersen / Getty Images
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Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts at the line of scrimmage against the Philadelphia Eagles during Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz.

It didn't take long for the Chiefs to answer, just three minutes in fact. Kansas City did its own 75-yard march that included a scramble by KC quarterback Patrick Mahomes (his previously-injured ankle seemed fine) and an 18-yard touchdown toss to Travis Kelce. Six plays and the score was tied 7-7.

After the Eagles and Chiefs traded touchdowns on their opening drives, they each had problems on their second. Philadelphia went three-and-out and punted and then Kansas City had a 42-yard drive that ended with a missed field goal.

The first play of the second quarter was signature Philadelphia. Eagles QB Jalen Hurts heaved a 45-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver A.J. Brown to go up 14-7.

Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz.
Christian Petersen / Getty Images
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Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz.

Kansas City didn't do much with its next possession. Philadelphia took over aiming to extend the lead. But Jalen Hurts made a rare mistake fumbling the ball — the Eagles first turnover of the postseason — as he tried to evade a tackler. The Chiefs' Nick Bolton picked it up and darted into the end zone to even the score 14-14.

Philadelphia and Jalen Hurts were undaunted. Hurts started the next drive with a rush, a pass, another pass and then a rush. The Eagles would not be slowed - going for it on two fourth-downs with Hurts capping the drive with a three-yard scamper for his second rushing touchdown to give the Eagles a 21-14 lead.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the NFL MVP who has sparkled all season long, was tackled late in the second quarter as he scrambled to get a first down. Eagles defender T.J. Edwards tackled Mahomes, reinjuring his ankle and he hobbled off the field. Mahomes winced as he sat on the bench.

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs lays on the field after reinjuring his ankle during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz.
Carmen Mandato / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs lays on the field after reinjuring his ankle during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz.

The Eagles tacked on a field goal to end the first half and extend their lead to 24-14. What the scoreboard didn't show was the Eagles dominance. They held the ball nearly 22-minutes compared to just eight for the Chiefs. The Eagles ran twice as many plays (44 to 20) and had double the total yards (270 to 128).

While the 73,000+ people inside State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz, and millions more watching on television and online, were treated to Rihanna's halftime show, the Chiefs coaches were left to make adjustments to try to slow the Eagles offense.

Whatever they did, it worked.

Rihanna performs during the halftime show of Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale, Ariz., on February 12, 2023.
Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Rihanna performs during the halftime show of Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale, Ariz., on February 12, 2023.

Mahomes came into the Super Bowl as a two-time NFL MVP in his third Super Bowl appearance (won in 2020 and lost in 2021). So it was no surprise that as the Chiefs opened the second half, Mahomes was back leading his team. He dashed and ran a bit, seemingly not slowed by his ankle injury. And, after ten plays and five-and-a-half minutes, he guided the Chiefs to the end zone, slicing the Eagle lead to 24-21.

On the next drive, the Eagles booted a field goal to extend the score to 27-21 and that was the tally at the end of the third quarter. Mahomes began the fourth quarter in his usual dominant way - leading the Chiefs down the field for yet another touchdown, a short pass to Kadarius Toney. For the first time in the game, with 12-minutes left, Kansas City was leading: 28-27.

The Eagles punted on their next possession (just their second of the game) and the Chiefs capitalized. Kadarius Toney ran the kick 65-yards — the longest punt return in Super Bowl history to the Eagle five-yard-line. It didn't take long for Mahomes to throw another touchdown pass, this time to Skyy Moore to extend the Chiefs lead to 35-27.

The Eagles, slowed in the second half and down by 8 points, found their rhythm on the next drive. They started with 9:22 left in the game and four minutes later, Hurts had guided the team down the field, capping it with his third rushing touchdown of the game. And he wasn't done. The Eagles decided to go for two to try to even the score. It was Hurts who kept the ball, plunging into the endzone. With 5:15 to go, the score was even: 35-35.

Patrick Mahomes knew what needed to be done. With the Chiefs starting at their own 25-yard line, their MVP worked his magic. A mix of throws, runs and his own 26-yard yard scramble, got the Chiefs close to the end zone. But the tactical gamesmanship began. The Eagles tried to let the Chiefs score a touchdown (to give them maximum time to try to score a touchdown of their own) but Kansas City ran the clock the down and kicked a field goal with 8-seconds left to go up 38-35.

It was a tale of two halves. Philadelphia dominated the first half and Kansas City owned the second half (scoring on every possession: 24 points).

Mahomes is just the 11th player to win a Super Bowl and MVP in the same year (and he's the first to do it since 1999).

In his post-game comments about Mahomes, Chiefs Coach Andy Reid was succinct. "He's MVP," he said.

There were a number of firsts in this Super Bowl. It was the first time the title game had two Black starting quarterbacks. The game featured another first: two brothers squaring off against each other. For the first time, a Black woman coach was on the sideline and the pre-game military fly-over included all women pilots.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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As NPR's Southern Bureau chief, Russell Lewis covers issues and people of the Southeast for NPR — from Florida to Virginia to Texas, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. His work brings context and dimension to issues ranging from immigration, transportation, and oil and gas drilling for NPR listeners across the nation and around the world.