Officially done being a Chiefs fan this season!!— Jason Kelce (@JasonKelce) January 30, 2023
The most gifted passer of all time
He’s not yet the G.O.A.T. — he’ll need many more years in the league to compete with Tom Brady —but Patrick Mahomes has left no doubt that he is a magician with the ball in his hands and is the most talented passer we have ever seen.
Throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns eight days after sustaining a high ankle sprain is as tough a performance as we have seen in recent memory. That Mahomes fought through the pain and made some of his biggest plays while on the move speaks to the value his mobility brings. He earned his second all-pro berth and is the overwhelming favorite to win the MVP award. What’s absurd is that he’s only 27 and just getting started.
Mahomes will now play for the right to join Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Ben Roethlisberger, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett, Bob Griese, Bart Starr, John Elway, Peyton and Eli Manning as starting quarterbacks that have won multiple Super Bowl rings. To do so, Mahomes will have to best an Eagles defense that registered a staggering 70 sacks during the regular season.
Ossai was distraught on the bench, feeling like he had let his team down. But no one in the Cincinnati locker room blamed the loss on the hustling lineman.
“There were a lot of plays other than that that could have turned the tide in that game and won us that game. So that’s not the only one,” star quarterback Joe Burrow said.
Before the penalty, Ossai had a good game, generating five tackles, one tackle for loss, two QB hits, one pass defended, three QB pressures and a run stuff.
“We’re not going to make it about one play.” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said of Ossai’s late-hit penalty. “He loves ball. He loves being part of this team.”
Chiefs Make Do with Limited Receiving Options
Not only did Mahomes have to battle through his high-ankle sprain and his top pass-catcher Kelce had to overcome back spasms, but Mahomes’ receiving options dwindled as the game went along.
Not one, not two, but three receivers went out because of injuries during the game. The Chiefs lost Mecole Hardman, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kadarius Toney at various points during the game. The trio had six combined catches for just 26 yards before exiting. Hardman was questionable to play Sunday because of a pelvis injury that had kept him out since Nov. 6.
Playing a larger role, Marquez Valdes-Scantling blew up, catching six passes for 116 yards, including a third-quarter touchdown that put the Chiefs up, 20-13. Valdes-Scantling and Smith-Schuster were signed in the offseason to help make up the production of Tyreek Hill, who was traded to the Miami Dolphins last spring.
3) The Eagles’ pass rush must dominate. No team in the league had a more ferocious pass rush than Philadelphia this season. It produced 70 sacks and four defensive linemen finished with at least 10 quarterback takedowns. That unit blew up the 49ers’ game plan in the NFC championship, as the Eagles injured both starting quarterback Brock Purdy and backup Josh Johnson. To understand how feeble the San Francisco passing attack became in that contest, all you need to know is one stat: The 49ers finished with 83 passing yards. The scary part about the Eagles is they accomplished that level of success against a San Francisco offensive line that is one of the best in the league. There will be some obvious advantages on the edge against the Chiefs, who’ve received inconsistent play from offensive tackles Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie. It will be critical for the Eagles to exploit those matchups whenever possible. If they can’t pressure Mahomes, they won’t win this game.
“With NFL, On Location, you know, there’s just a lot of inventory more or less kind of tied up for that entity to sell,” said Patrick Ryan, co-founder and managing director of Eventellect, a ticket strategy company. “And they do a really good job of creating a very strong market.” Like many in his profession, Ryan now pegs $5,000 as the lowest the floor will ever be for get-in price to Super Bowls.
This doesn’t mean matchups don’t matter, but since experts like Ryan see a floor at $5,000, the pairing is more likely to affect prices in terms of how high rather than how low. Had the Cowboys or Bills made it to the Super Bowl, it likely would have sent prices soaring. In the case of the two Super Bowl teams, both the Eagles and Chiefs have rabid fan followings, so that is likely to push prices higher.
2. The trenches
I’m going to cheat here and just discuss this entire battle between the big boys in this game. I hope the Chiefs are ready because the Eagles can bring it, man. The Eagles offensive line dominated the 49ers defensive front, which is the best in the NFL. There’s not a matchup where I feel like Chiefs star Chris Jones is going to dominate like he did Sunday. Also, Frank Clark turns into an All-Pro during the postseason, now climbing the leaderboard for most all-time playoff sacks. However, the Eagles have two of the best offensive tackles in the league. How are the Chiefs going to make Hurts uncomfortable? Because if they don’t, the Eagles won’t be stopped.
On the other side, what is the plan for Haason Reddick and Javon Hargrave? The Chiefs have decent matchups inside but Andrew Wylie against Reddick can be an issue. How do the Chiefs design an offense that’s effective but also not so one-dimensional in fear of the Eagles’ D-line. This is why the Chiefs beefed up their offensive line after the Tampa Bay loss. I can’t wait for this matchup. The thought of this will consume me for two weeks.
Around the NFL
Despite struggles, Eagles find a way to win. Philadelphia held true to form from its first possession Sunday, compiling an 11-play, 66-yard drive that included a long, fourth-down completion to DeVonta Smith that replay revealed might have not been a catch. Luckily for Philadelphia, Smith and the Eagles’ offense hurried to the line and snapped the ball before 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan could challenge the catch, and two plays later, Miles Sanders was in the end zone with a 6-yard touchdown run. That was essentially the high note for Philadelphia’s offense, which finished with just 269 yards of total offense and averaged fewer than four yards per play. The Eagles pieced together one longer scoring drive — a 14-play, 75-yard march ending in another Sanders touchdown run — but this was the only scoring drive in which the Eagles put points on the board without the help of defensive penalties. It wasn’t a pretty game, but that doesn’t matter. The Eagles are headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2017 season thanks to a blowout win that came in unconventional, slightly unimpressive fashion, but they all count the same.
As the San Francisco 49ers watched quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson head to the sideline with injuries Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, they couldn’t help but feel like their hopes of a trip to Super Bowl LVII went with them. They also couldn’t help but feel like they, too, had just taken a season-ending blow.
“We didn’t really get to see all the 49er football that we wanted to put out there on tape,” tight end George Kittle said. “But life just kind of punches you in the face sometimes.”
The Niners lost Purdy to a right elbow injury on their sixth offensive snap. After he was originally considered questionable to return, he had no choice but to reenter in the third quarter when his replacement — fourth-string signal-caller Johnson — was ruled out with a concussion.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Speaking of stepping up... Patrick Mahomes’ injured ankle was a factor in this game. He looked much better than he did after sustaining the injury in the Divisional Round, but his mobility was still limited. Nonetheless, Mahomes made the crucial scramble that ultimately sent Kansas City to the Super Bowl, gaining a first down that put the Chiefs into field goal range. Even on a bad ankle — and with Marcus Kemp among those going out for passes — Mahomes collected 326 passing yards and two touchdowns. At times, Mahomes and the offense looked out of sorts — but when it mattered most, they made plays.
The Bengals also made Kansas City one-dimensional by holding the team to only 42 rushing yards. With the state of Mahomes’ ankle, they refused to let the Chiefs run the ball — which made things challenging for the offense. Ultimately, however, Cincinnati’s inability to limit Kansas City’s passing game on third down is what cost them the game.
Offensive player of the game: Patrick Mahomes
Valdes-Scantling balled out — but Patrick Mahomes shouldn’t even have been playing. His dedication to rehabbing his ankle (while turning in a 326-yard performance) is the one of the main reasons the Chiefs are headed to Glendale. Mahomes had no running game. He was without Kadarius Toney, Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster — and he still went out and won the game. He once again proved that he should be the NFL’s 2022 MVP.
A tweet to make you think
“They can take their bum ass all the way back to Cincinnati. They came to Chiefs Kingdom and their ass thumped.”— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 30, 2023
“I’m the f**king king.” - Frank Clark pic.twitter.com/1fKT8ZGsMF