Super Bowl LVII.
5:15 to go.
Ball in the hands of Patrick Mahomes.
What more could you ask for?
How about the most memorable drive of his life?
Mahomes led the Chiefs on a game-winning drive in a 38-35 win against the Eagles, the most fitting of avenues toward his second Super Bowl title.
He’s 27, mind you.
And it would appear he’s just getting started.
He won this game on a bum ankle that he re-injured before halftime. On the final possession, the one that will be a headline in his resume, Mahomes marched the Chiefs down field 66 yards,
The key play? On that ankle, of course. He scrambled for 17 yards to put the Chiefs within range.
Plenty, plenty more to come post-game, but for now, here are the five observations from immediately after the game:
1. The Andrew Walter Reid Game
Andy Reid dug deep into his bag, man.
The play-calling sequences of his life arrived in the second half. The Chiefs bossed the NFL’s best offense because of execution, to be sure — the offensive line included — but even more notably because of play design and play call.
Because of Andy Reid.
The Chiefs didn’t really have a problem moving the ball most of the game, but his wizardry came on back-to-back touchdown plays in the second half.
He evidently picked up a tell in the Eagles’ response to motion — not that this hasn’t been a strength of the Chiefs all season — and put Kadarius Toney in motion on a key third down. The Eagles were lost, with cornerback Darius Slay turning his head to signal for another defensive back to cover him, only for Toney to reverse course and find himself wide open for a score.
This time he sent Skyy Moore, a rookie without a touchdown all year, on the same route on the opposite side of the field. Worked like a charm.
2. The offense rolled
Don’t let the lack of snaps fool you.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense bossed the top-ranked defense in football.
The Eagles led the NFL this season in allowing just 4.78 yards per play.
The Chiefs were at 6.7 yards per play before they took a couple of kneel-downs at the end of the game. For context, that’s more yards than the 6.43 they averaged in the regular season — and they led the NFL in the stat.
The total numbers will be misleading — Mahomes threw for just 182 yards after all, but the Chiefs ran only 53 plays.
3. Travis Kelce in the postseason
The Chiefs have had two offensive starters span all three Super Bowl appearances.
I’ll give you two guesses.
The tight end has been around since the beginning of the Andy Reid Era. He hasn’t just survived. He’s thrived.
Kelce’s very best games have come in the postseason, and that’s more than memorable — it’s statistically too.
Kelce schooled safety Marcus Epps on an out-and-up in the first quarter for an 18-yard touchdown. It was his 16th career postseason score, all coming in his past 15 appearances.
He has recorded at least 78 receiving yards in nine straight playoff games.
Uh, he’s 33 by the way.
4. The in-game management
A two-week layoff favored the best game-planner, and there is no coach who puts together better offensive schemes than Chiefs boss Andy Reid.
But the 60 minutes during the game?
Nick Sirianni has added more points to the board than any coach in football with his in-game decisions, per Sumer Sports, and it’s not particularly close.
Even as he prepared and dialed up a terrific game in the moment, Andy Reid has had some catching up to do with the in-game decision making, and the difference materialized early.
Reid elected to kick a field goal in the first quarter from the 24-yard line — rather than try a 4th and three — and Harrison Butker doinked the kick off the upright anyway.
Sirianni kept his offense on the field for back-to-back fourth downs in the second quarter, and that drive concluded with seven points.
The concept is pretty simple — put the game in the hands of your best players.
You know, like the game afford Patrick Mahomes in the end.
5. The key downs
Look, we’re going to have to nit-pick one thing here. The Chiefs simply could not get off the field.
Even when they provided themselves the best of opportunities.
Third and long. Third and short. Didn’t matter. The Eagles welcomed them all.
The Eagles lined up for third down 19 times. They converted 11 of them on third down, converted two more on fourth down and earned two more by penalty. That’s 19 third down set-ups, and 15 conversions.
Oddly, for the faults of the defense, this had not been one of them — the Chiefs defense ranked 13th in the NFL in third down conversions.
©2023 The Kansas City Star. Visit at kansascity.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.