In the Super Bowl last season, when the Philadelphia Eagles scored to tie the game everyone looked at the clock and knew what was coming next. Patrick Mahomes had too much time.
Mahomes led a clutch drive, just as everyone expected, the Kansas City Chiefs kicked a field goal and won the Super Bowl. Monday night reinforced that this isn't last season anymore.
The Chiefs had two chances to win the game with a big drive after the Eagles took a late lead on Monday night. Mahomes seems almost automatic in those situations. But the Chiefs couldn't get it done. They went three-and-out the first time. On the second chance, Mahomes had the right read with less than two minutes left and unleashed a laser deep downfield to an open Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Valdes-Scantling dropped it. Then on fourth-and-25, Justin Watson had a great pass on his hands and he couldn't catch it.
With a defense and running game like this, you'd think the Chiefs would be unbeatable. But something has been a little off all season. The Eagles stuck around long enough and finally Jalen Hurts made some enormous plays in the fourth quarter to lead a huge 21-17 win. The Eagles improved to 9-1 and the Chiefs fell to 7-3.
The Chiefs should have won but two bad red-zone turnovers really cost them. Mahomes threw an interception into the end zone in the first half and Travis Kelce lost a fumble in the second half. You don't expect two future Hall of Famers to make mistakes like that, but that helped keep the Eagles in the game.
The thought was always that if the Chiefs got an elite defense, the NFL would be in trouble. The Chiefs defense is very good. And it's the offense that hasn't been quite right.
Eagles struggle in 1st half
Monday night's epic showdown started slowly for the Eagles.
Hurts had just five completions for 46 yards at halftime. He had an interception too. The Eagles' run game was a little better, with 58 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but not good enough to keep the Chiefs from having a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Eagles had just 78 yards at halftime. That's a testament to the Chiefs defense, which is finally starting to get its due, but Philadelphia's offense simply looked bad.
Philadelphia has built its team by loading up on the offensive and defensive lines, and both looked oddly overwhelmed in the first half. Hurts was sacked five times. The Chiefs had 121 rushing yards before halftime. Kansas City was the tougher team.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni told ESPN at halftime that he wanted his team to establish itself with a long drive to start the third quarter. But again the Eagles got dominated up front, gained just one yard on three plays and punted.
The Eagles could talk about establishing something, but the Chiefs would punch them in the mouth once the ball was snapped. But, to the Eagles' credit, they managed to stay in the game.
Eagles take a 4th quarter lead
When the Eagles forced a Kelce fumble at their own 10-yard line in the fourth quarter, it seemed hard to believe they were still in the game. The Chiefs had outplayed them, the Eagles had very little going but the Chiefs hadn't put them away.
The Eagles had to punt after that Kelce fumble, but the Chiefs couldn't take advantage and punted it back. Andy Reid chose to punt on fourth-and-four at the Eagles' 39-yard line, which was a little conservative and a bit telling too. It's not like the Chiefs offense had been all that good on Monday night. In other years, maybe Reid would have let Mahomes and the offense go for those four yards.
After that, Hurts finally came alive. He hit D'Andre Swift for 20 yards, DeVonta Smith for 13 yards and then had a huge pass to Smith for 41 yards down to the 1-yard line. Everyone knew what was coming next, and Hurts got the brotherly shove sneak into the end zone for a touchdown and a 21-17 Eagles lead with 6:20 left.
After that, the Chiefs went three-and-out. Kansas City's defense came through again and got Mahomes the ball back, though the Chiefs' final chance at a win started at their own nine-yard line and they needed a touchdown. They would have had a touchdown if Valdes-Scantling would have caught a pass that hit him in the hands and fell incomplete. In previous years, that's the magical play Mahomes and the Chiefs would have made. Watson's drop on fourth down wasn't much better.
This isn't last season anymore. This Chiefs team is very good and still could win a Super Bowl. But it's looking a lot different than every other Mahomes season.