Super Bowl recap: Chiefs, Eagles and the “perfect script”

Super Bowl LVII served up a perfect storm of storylines in a script fit for the movies

As the confetti fell in Glendale, Arizona, the Kansas City Chiefs capped off a season filled with several captivating storylines. Officiating had taken center stage, but the flashpoints of the season — from Damar Hamlin to the rise of 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy — will remain in the minds of many for years. The Super Bowl was no exception, with its reinforcing, shattering and forming of narratives in a story that seemed fit for Hollywood.

Throughout the game, the audience was reminded of numerous storylines: the Kelce Brothers — Travis and Jason — playing in the Super Bowl against each other; Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts, the first two Black quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl against each other; Andy Reid, head coach of the Chiefs, coaching against his old team, the Eagles; and many, many more.

Heading into the 2022-23 season, the Chiefs were rated surprisingly low on many Super Bowl predictions, mainly due to significant losses on both offense and defense. With an impressive AFC West, outlets such as CBS, Sports Illustrated and expected Kansas City to struggle into a wild card at best. The team blew those predictions out of the water, posting a conference-best 14-3 record. After close wins over the Jaguars and Bengals, they earned a spot in the Super Bowl and were poised for their second title in three years. However, this win wouldn’t come easy, as their opponent wouldn’t lie down without a fight.

The Philadelphia Eagles came out of nowhere in 2022, taking the league by storm as they earned an impressive 14-3 record in the regular season. Jalen Hurts and the Eagles were led by second-year head coach Nick Sirianni, who had made a fiery reputation during his first year at the helm. Philadelphia had an easy road to the playoffs with a standout defense that terrified offenses. After injuring Brock Purdy early in the NFC conference championship, the Eagles cruised to a Super Bowl appearance — their first since quarterback Nick Foles took them to the championship in 2018.

With fireworks blasting, both teams traded blows back and forth, highlighting both sides’ high-powered offenses (and defenses). Both teams scored on their opening drives — Philadelphia with a 1-yard quarterback sneak and Kansas City with a beautiful pass to Travis Kelce — before the game stalled. The defenses went to work, but the Eagles got out to an early 14-7 lead following a missed field goal by Kansas City. Kansas City would tie the game just a short time later, however, as a fumble by Jalen Hurts was returned by linebacker Nick Bolton for a score.

Another score by the Eagles gave them a 21-14 lead, but Kansas City’s hopes would be in doubt before the half was over. With less than two minutes to go in the first half, Patrick Mahomes went down with an ankle injury, limping to the sideline after a third-down run. A controversial incomplete call by the officials saved what would have likely been a Philadelphia touchdown, to instead an Eagles field goal to extend their halftime lead to 24-14.

Following an electric halftime show by Rihanna, Mahomes returned from the locker room to lead the Chiefs downfield and close the gap to a 24-21 game. Another controversial call unfolded just a few minutes later, as a supposed fumble was ruled as an incomplete pass. The call took six points off the board for Kansas City, who had hit Eagles running back Miles Sanders to force a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Instead, the Eagles drove downfield to kick a field goal which Kansas City responded to with a touchdown. Another Chiefs touchdown gave them a 35-27 lead, but the Eagles weren’t done. Philadelphia put together a crucial drive that resulted in a touchdown, and a successful two-point conversion meant the score was tied heading into the Chiefs’ final possession.

Officiating would make its mark on the game once again, and perhaps most definitively, with a defensive holding call at 1:48 remaining in the fourth quarter that would revive Kansas City’s drive and allow the Chiefs to drain more time off the clock. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker broke the hearts of Philadelphia with a 27-yard chip shot field goal and a late throw by Hurts could not connect.

Throughout 2022, the jokes of a “scripted” league were everywhere as fans tried to make sense of the incredible year. From the officiating controversy to the unity around Damar Hamlin, the rise of rookie Brock Purdy, the collapse of the Broncos and everything in between, the year was an incredible testament to the unpredictable nature of football. The script was written to near perfection in the biggest game of the year. As we head into the upcoming season, analysts and fans will form new narratives, and the “script” will be written. We can only hope it comes half as close to the one we got this year.