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The best Super Bowl was ruined with a buzzkill ending and a busted field

A game that good shouldn’t have ended like this.

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs deserved to win the Super Bowl for dozens of reasons. Their second-half play calling found defensive weakness and exploited them. Patrick Mahomes played through considerable ankle pain, Andy Reid proved why he’s one of the best of all time, and the entire offensive unit around Mahomes stepped up to win.

We can appreciate all those things while admitting at the same time that one of the best Super Bowls in a long time was completely ruined by a field that wasn’t suitable to play on — and an ending that was such a buzzkill it sucked all the drama out of the game at its most critical moment.

A lot is going to be made of the decision to flag James Bradberry for holding on a game-defining third down. This was a game of questionable subjective calls on both sides of the ball. To close out the first half DeVonta Smith had a catch called back on a play we’ve seen ruled a catch dozens of times before, then in the fourth quarter we had an obvious incompletion to Dallas Goedert ruled as a catch. Bradberry was really the cherry on top of questionable decision making.

For what it’s worth, Bradberry is acknowledging that he pulled on JuJu Smith-Schuster’s jersey.

Still, even if it was holding by the letter of the law — it felt really soft. Especially for the moment. Especially in the biggest game of the year. Especially because it robbed us of what could have been one of the most dramatic, incredible endings to the Super Bowl of all time.

Look at that moment in isolation. Okay, so let’s say Bradberry doesn’t get flagged and it’s now 4th and 8 with 1:54 left. Kansas City kicks the field goal and is up 38-35. Though the Eagles were scoring at will on the Chiefs’ defense, this is absolutely not a gimme for Philadelphia. They’re sitting with one time out, and their average scoring drive length over the course of the game was well over four minutes, and they have less than two in order to try and win, on a night play calls were coming out slowly for the Eagles all evening.

You’re asking Jalen Hurts to put forth a monumental effort to even get the game to a tie score, and KC is holding a timeout too. If they tie on a field goal Mahomes is going to get another shot to win it.

This is all the drama we were robbed with, only to see the Chiefs run the clock down — kick a short field goal, and give us a wet fart end to the best game of the season. It was a damn shame, and I still think if that same James Bradberry play happens 500 times in a season, it’s going to be flagged maybe 50 times. I just wish it didn’t happen at the worst possible time.

On the topic of things I wish didn’t happen in the Super Bowl: How about the absolute stupidity of trying a new, experimental grass type like this was a preseason game? Tacoma 31, a cross-breed of Bermuda and rye grass was created after years of development, much of it funded by the United States Golf Association for use on courses. This was the biggest football test for the new grass.

It might be harsh to claim it’s a football failure after one game, but damn was this a bad time to have a grass fail this spectacularly. Nothing about the game felt normal, with pass rushers failing to get their footing, defensive backs falling on cuts — hell, we almost had a kicker hurt himself on a kickoff.

The Eagles sideline in particular looked like cleats were reenacting a scene from a war movie, as they lay in a pile of discarded and wasted potential — unable to keep up with just how slick this mess of a divot-covered field was.

There is absolutely no excuse for the Super Bowl to be this bad. In the lead up to the game the grass was touted for it’s durability, with sources citing a need to keep the playing field in good shape considering the numerous events leading up to the game which put unnecessary wear on the play surface.

For example, normal Bermuda grass would wear out to bare ground after the kind of foot traffic it would face in the leadup to the Super Bowl, said Brian Whitlark, an agronomist in the west region for the USGA. Tahoma 31 won’t have an issue holding up to demands of being a Super Bowl field, he added.

The question should be: Why is there so much foot traffic in the Super Bowl stadium to begin with? The NFL wants to sell tickets to unnecessary crap like media night, so it requires stands — but that shouldn’t come at the expense of the game itself. The Super Bowl itself was compromised by testing an unproven grass in the biggest game of the year, instead of having this tested six months ago, and it was a disaster because of it.

It just sucks, because so much about Super Bowl LVII was perfect. Players at the top of their games. One of the best national anthems in recent memory. A halftime show that will rate among the best ever. Then we had grass and a penalty play a major role in what settled this game. It was just a horrible aftertaste to a meal that was damn near perfect.

Winner: Patrick Mahomes

Normally when we discuss Mahomes it’s because of 400 yard passing performances that defy belief. This was absolutely because of the toughness he displayed to not only fight through the obvious pain of his ankle injury, but have the guts to run on a bad ankle when it mattered most.

I’m not going to pretend this was an MVP-worthy performance, because it wasn’t (and we’re about to discuss that), but Mahomes absolutely deserves incredible props for holding his team together when everything could have gone up in smoke.

Winner: Jalen Hurts, who should have been Super Bowl MVP

I’m so sick of Super Bowl MVP just being synonymous with “winning QB.” If you really think Patrick Mahomes deserved to win Most Valuable Player over Jalen Hurts then you don’t understand the basics of football.

Mahomes was an iron man who didn’t do anything wrong. That’s it. There was nothing spectacular about his play. It was a middling, sub-200 yard passing day with one good touchdown throw, and another two dump offs against a busted pass rush.

Hurts, on the other hand, was the absolute star of the Super Bowl. The entire lead-up to this game was about whether Hurts could hang with Mahomes’ brilliance, and he turned the game into his way of announcing himself to the world who haven’t seen the Eagles play all season.

It’s not just the 374 all-purpose yards, or the four total touchdowns — it’s that in any moment that looked even a little bit dicey, Hurts stepped up and steadied the ship. It was a masterclass in superstar quarterbacking, and if the Eagles defense didn’t completely suck on Sunday night, he’d be hoisting the trophy.

Loser: The Eagles ineffective defense

That was sorry as hell. Defending Mahomes and the Chiefs is never easy, but the Eagles didn’t even offer a stiff breeze.

Philadelphia’s vaunted pass rush didn’t register a single sack, or really make Mahomes feel pressured at all. The secondary kept falling for the same moves, and the entire defense was dialed up in a way the team couldn’t succeed.

Tack on Bradberry’s aforementioned holding call which sealed the game, and you have just a defensive mess that ensured Philadelphia couldn’t put up much of a fight.

Loser: Travis Kelce

On the field you were great. You’re Travis Kelce, one of the best tight ends in the NFL — and sure to be among the greatest ever.

The loser column here is for being such an insufferable ass following the game. Kelce adopted this weird “us against the world” mentality that gaslit America by pretending that everyone didn’t say “Chiefs or Bills” in the preseason, and suddenly morphed it all into a “put some respect on our name” tirade.

It wasn’t just once either. I’d give him a pass if this happened just once. But nah, Kelce did this in every post game interview and appearance — like KC wasn’t one of the favorites to win before the season began.

You’ve been here before. Act like it.

Winner: Nick Bolton

Bolton was an amazing value pick when the Chiefs grabbed him in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and on Sunday he shined. A defining Super Bowl moment when he recovered Jalen Hurts’ fumble and returned it for a touchdown, but beyond that he was pivotal in ensuring the Eagles’ run game never got settled and that Miles Sanders couldn’t break big gains on the outside.

In the end he finished with a game-high nine tackles and was a huge bright spot for the Chiefs’ defense on a night where not a lot of defensive players stepped up.

Winner: Andy Reid

What’s more to say about this guy? Reid will go down as one of the greatest football minds of all time, and perhaps if this is the end to his career there will be no more fitting way to hang up his whistle than beating the Eagles.

Reid’s halftime adjustments which targeted Philadelphia’s over-aggressiveness on defense was a masterclass. He also did an incredible job, alongside Eric Bieniemy, in moving to high percentage plays that mitigated the factor of the horrible field conditions. In the end experience won out, and that’s where the big difference between Reid and Nick Sirianni shined.

Reid winning his second Super Bowl puts him up with the greats. Simply stunning.

Winner: Greg Olsen

The best football announcer in the NFL remained in incredible form during the Super Bowl. Olsen did what he’s been doing all year. He was perfectly informative, spot on in his analysis, and displayed enough charisma without becoming overbearing.

It’s a damn shame he’s going to be moved to the b-team to make way for Tom Brady — but at least we have until 2024.

Winners: All of you

This marks the end of the season for our Monday winners and losers. I’d like to thank all of y’all for reading, commenting, and starting off the week right.

Even those who critique, or hate what I say every Monday. I always see what you say, and you’re just as important to the process as we all try to be better.

Have a wonderful offseason. A lovely Spring and Summer, and this column will be back in the fall for me to accidentally curse your teams once more.