After you’ve dwelled on the mistakes and agonized over what might have been, there was some good news for Eagles fans coming out of Super Bowl 57.
On the biggest of stages, in the most important game of his life, Jalen Hurts might have been the best player on the field.
Including the quarterbacks.
That’s not hyperbole. He didn’t win but he might have outplayed his Chiefs counterpart.
This being Philly sports, of course there is an asterisk.
Hurts had staggering statistics. He led one of the great fourth quarter drives in Super Bowl history to tie the score and put the Eagles in position to win.
He established himself — and there shouldn’t have been any doubt — as not only the Eagles’ franchise quarterback but one of the best in the NFL.
He earned it. He deserves it. The Eagles are Hurts’ team. That statement might be true for the next decade.
The asterisk is painful. Hurts cost his team seven points with an unforced-error fumble that was returned for a touchdown by the Chiefs.
- “If there were any doubters left, there shouldn’t be now,” said Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was voted game MVP after Kansas City’s 38-35 victory.
- “I mean the way he stepped on this stage and ran, threw the ball, whatever it took for his team to win, I mean, that was a special performance that I don’t want it to get lost in the loss that they had.”
The Eagles led, 14-7, when Hurts fumbled. They were on the move, at the Chiefs’ 47, looking ready to add to their lead. On the play before, right guard Isaac Seumalo was called for a false start as Hurts was going to run his trademark quarterback sneak on a third-and-1.
The Seumalo penalty was one of those early-game mistakes that might have been crucial in the game’s outcome but gets overwhelmed with later developments. If there is no false start, Hurts likely gets the first down, the drive continues and points might follow.
- “The beautiful part about it is everyone experiences different pains, everyone experiences different agonies of life, but you decide if you want to learn from it,” Hurts said.
- “You decide if you want to use that to be a teachable moment and I know what I’ll do.”
After the fumble, Hurts went back to work. He led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard drive to give Philly a 21-14 lead. Order seem restored for the Eagles, who had dominated the first half.
CHIEFS ROUT EAGLES’ DEFENSE
Hurts’ best moment was a drive that started on the Eagles’ 25, with 9:22 to play. The Chiefs led 35-27. Hurts completed 3-of-3 passes on the drive including a 45-yarder to DeVonta Smith near the goal line. Hurts scored the touchdown on a 2-yard run and then bulled his way into the end zone for a two-point conversion and a tie score.
- “I mean, even when we had all the momentum in that game and we went up eight points in the fourth quarter, for him to respond and move his team right down the football field and run it in himself for the 2-point conversion, it was a special performance by him,” Mahomes said.
Hurts completed 27-of-38 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown. He rushed 15 times for 70 yards. Hurts made big-time throws to Smith, Dallas Goedert and A.J. Brown. Another long pass on the money to Quez Watkins was dropped. A completion could have resulted in a touchdown instead of a field goal — another missed opportunity.
Mahomes was his usual brilliant self — 21-of-27 for 182 yards and three touchdowns. His most important play might have been a 26-yard run to the Eagles’ 17 with 2:55 to play that helped set up the winning field goal.
‘BEST GAME’ FOR HURTS
Mahomes being the best player on the field is expected. He’s *always* great. But Hurts is approaching that status. He played well in every game this season except for the one when he returned from a sprained shoulder. Hurts and Mahomes played the Super Bowl at less than 100 percent.
- “To me, Jalen played the best game I’ve seen him play in the two years that we’ve been together,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.
- “He was outstanding. I really thought he was in complete control. He did things with his legs in the run game. He did things with his arm in the pass game, made some unbelievable throws, unbelievable reads. I thought he played outstanding.”
Hurts is a team-first, win-first guy. He took the loss hard. It didn’t matter to him how well he played.
“This is tough. There’s so much to learn from,” Hurts said. “I always hold myself to a very high standard … You either win or you learn. It’s a very tough feeling to come up short.”
The Eagles reportedly are prepared to talk contract extension with their 24-year-old quarterback. He will get paid.
- “We decide how we want to move forward … ” Hurts said. “My only direction is to rise.”
The Eagles are in very good hands.