PHOENIX – There are two types of Super Bowl hangovers. One has physical aches, which has to do with the dehydration, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues that come with a late night party, but the continued joy makes all the nausea worth it.
The other concerns the mental anguish of retelling the events of that particular Sunday evening. It sometimes lasts for years and requires immediate therapy.
» READ MORE: All of The Inquirer’s Super Bowl coverage in one place
Here we go.
Each game presents topics to which we also assign a lot of weight, or too few. The game in Super Bowl LVII that has become far too little Attention: Fumble by Jalen Hurts.
The fumble: too little
Hurts played brilliantly in the biggest game of his young life, but he also made the game’s biggest mistake. Leading 9:48 in the first half, Hurts fumbled the ball away at his own 36-yard line and Chiefs returned it for a touchdown, leveling the game. He gave the offensive number 1 seven free points with the league MVP.
Ball security is everything in football. Hurt, the son of a coach, has had that in his head since the day he was born. The game was so terribly bad, so utterly unacceptable, that Hurts later apologized to his Eagles teammates.
“I’m trying to protect it,” Hurts said after the game. “But it hurt us.”
It was bizarre.
The Eagles called a quarterback draw in a shotgun formation. Chiefs safety Nick Bolton “spied” random hurts on the game, and he spotted it before the snap. As Hurts pocketed the ball to run, Bolton charged into the backfield.
Hurts was surprised. He panicked. Instead of saving the ball for the inevitable hit, he tried to switch it from his left hand to his right and he dropped it. Just dropped it Then, when Bolton arrived, he kicked it. Bolton picked it up and scored, untouched.
It was like a football midfielder who drills an own goal past his goalkeeper midway through the first half to make it 1-1, later scores twice but his team loses 4-3. The two goals he scored are okay, but the own goal was the difference.
The moment was also crucial. The Eagles had just forced the Chiefs to tie. They scored on their subsequent possession and went into the dressing room with 10 points, but it could have been 13 or 17.
» READ MORE: In an all-time great Super Bowl, the Eagles weren’t good enough
The Chiefs had the ball first in the third quarter and executed a punishing 10-play, 75-yard drive in which they ran the ball six times, in part to protect Patrick Mahomes, who had an aggravated ankle sprain in his groin game the first half. Even with a one-legged quarterback, there’s no way Andy Reid runs six times in 10 games when he’s two or more touchdowns behind.
So no, not even Hurts’ 304 passing yards, 70 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, his 2-point conversion run, and his passing touchdown don’t obscure the fact that he and he alone gave the Chiefs seven free points. The Eagles lost by three. Do the math.
The penalty: too much
Midfield, in the red zone, James Bradberry snapped JuJu Smith-Schuster’s jersey and then admitted it. Greg Olson’s biggest blunder in an otherwise virtuoso performance as Super Bowl analyst for Fox Sports was criticizing the officials for obviously calling an obvious foul by a player who was obviously batted.
Bradberry admitted: “It was a hold. I hoped they would let it slide.”
They didn’t. Appropriate.
Jonathan Gannon: Too much
Gannon has been outcoached, particularly in the red zone, but Andy Reid is a Hall of Fame coach with perhaps the best quarterback in NFL history, and Reid has had two weeks to prepare for an unimaginative defense that will take the whole Feasted on fewer teams and fewer quarterbacks throughout the season. Also, his defense gave up fewer points than Steve Spagnuolo, who gave up 35; seven of the Chiefs’ 38 points came from a fumble return.
» READ MORE: Andy Reid reaches the trainers’ Mount Rushmore
There’s no shame in a sophomore defensive coordinator losing a Super Bowl to the offensive genius whose 21 playoff wins is second only to Bill Belichick, the defensive genius who once conceded 41 points in a Super Bowl to Doug Pederson and Nick Foles has submitted.
Chiefs passport protection: too little
Two deceptive motion-based touchdown catches drew a lot of attention, and rightly so, but the blocking scheme Reid devised to end the Eagles’ historically prolific pass rush was a masterpiece of teamwork and discipline. Running backs and tight ends routinely delivered a sixth or seventh blocker, and it drove the Eagles crazy. The Eagles recorded zero sacks for the first time in the postseason.
“They chipped and chipped and chipped all night,” said Josh Sweat, who had 11 of the Eagles’ 70 regular-season sacks, the third-highest total in history.
The running games: too little
The Chiefs’ line also aggressively attacked the Eagles throughout the night. Running backs Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon combined for 110 yards on 19 carries, a whopping 5.7 yards per carry.
» READ MORE: Chiefs’ Travis Kelce wins brothers’ fight
Meanwhile, the Eagles’ vaunted offensive line was losing at every turn. Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott combined for 45 yards on 17 carries, an average of 2.7 yards.
Eagles Receiver: Not enough
DeVonta Smith had seven catches for 100 yards. AJ Brown had six catches for 96 yards, including a career-defining 45-yard touchdown grab. Tight end Dallas Geodert caught six passes for 60 yards, each more impressive than the last.
Smith just finished his second season. Brown finished his fourth; Goedert, his fifth. All are under Eagles control until at least 2025.
This is the best group of pass catchers in franchise history, and they all showed up when the lights were brightest.