Eagles needed one defensive stop in second half and couldn’t get it 

Posted on February 13, 2023

Upon further review … the Eagles’ 38-35 loss to the Chiefs in Super Bowl 57 was historic and not in a good way.

The 35 points scored by the Eagles were the most in Super Bowl history by a losing team.

The Eagles needed one defensive stop in the second half. One defensive stand, one turn of possession from their second-ranked defense and they probably would have won the game.

That defensive stand never happened. For a defense that had a league-leading, 70 regular-season sacks, they couldn’t get within hand-shaking distance of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

They didn’t stop the Chiefs in the second half. They couldn’t even slow them down as Kansas City overcame a usually insurmountable 10-point halftime deficit.

  • “Those guys are thinking through everything and talking through everything,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said Sunday night when asked about his team blitzing more to put pressure on Mahomes.
  • “Sure, we talk about everything on the sideline there, and I got a ton of trust in our defensive staff. Give the Chiefs credit.
  • “They had some completions that they get the ball out quick to mitigate our pass rush. They were chipping. They were thumping on the edge on our pass rushers helping the guys out.
  • “They did a good job of knowing what our strength was and doing their best to mitigate it.”


Mahomes, the game and league MVP, took the Chiefs on four scoring drives in the second half, wiping out the Eagles’ 24-14 halftime lead. 

The Eagles were only the second team to lose after leading by at least 10 points at halftime. The Falcons led the Patriots, 21-3, at halftime six years ago.

Generational talent Tom Brady won that game. Generational talent Mahomes won this one.

Andy Reid’s Chiefs were the second team to score on every second-half possession in Super Bowl history. The first? The Super Bowl-winning Eagles in 2017.

The Eagles tied for fourth in the league with 17 interceptions. They came up empty against the Chiefs.

Mahomes’ first drive after receiving the second half kickoff went 75 yards in 10 plays. His second drive went 70 yards in nine plays. Each of those drives picked up five first downs.

One defensive play in either of those two drives and the outcome might have been different.

  • “You can’t give a team like that a short field or seven points off of a turnover,” Sirianni said. “So they have the seven points off that, they had the ball on the four-yard line off of a punt return.
  • “We’ll look at it. I can’t exactly tell you this or that, but I thought we were playing a really good offense. We gave up 24 points at the end of the day. 
  • “It’s tough to give them a short field. That’s why this is the ultimate team game. We’re all in this together – offense, defense, special teams. I just felt like a couple times we put the defense in a tough spot in the defensive area.”


The Eagles trailed, 28-27, early in the fourth quarter when Kadarius Toney’s 65-yard punt return, the longest in Super Bowl history, stunned the Birds.

It was the worst possible outcome for the Eagles at the worst possible time from a unit that struggled during the season. Three plays later, Mahomes hit a wide-open Skyy Moore to put the Chiefs ahead, 35-27.

Wide-open receivers were another Eagles’ defensive failure in the second half. On both Kansas City touchdown passes in the second half, an Eagles defender was nowhere to be seen. Mahomes never had to throw into coverage; his receivers were that unchecked.

Another devastating stat: Teams that score a defensive touchdown are 16-3.

That score came after an unforced fumble by Jalen Hurts, who otherwise played the game of his life. That touchdown tied the score at 14 in the second quarter.

  • “I always hold myself to a very high standard with everything that I do,” Hurts said of the fumble.
  • “Obviously, I try to control the things that I can. I touch the ball every play. Obviously, you want to protect it. It did hurt us. It hurt us.”


After a short night’s sleep and re-watching the game, it’s easy to conclude this: The game was there for the Eagles to win. Yes, Mahomes took over the game in the second half, but the Eagles never got the one big play they needed.

  • “So I just reminded them … you know all of the things we went through in our lives … that was adversity that we’ll overcome this too because of the type of guys we have in there,” Sirianni said he told his team after the loss.
  • “We will use this to motivate us. We will use this pain. We will use this failure to motivate us so that we can make it a strength.”

Future motivation is for another day. For now, the disappointment felt by the Eagles and their fans overwhelms the senses and doesn’t mend the heart.

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Chuck Bausman

Chuck Bausman is an Eagles writer for Iggles.com. Chuck formerly was the Executive Sports Editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Executive Sports Editor of the Courier-Post in South Jersey. He learned how to cuss by watching Philly sports.

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