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Winners, losers from Super Bowl 2023: Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts shine on a bad night for refs, grass

Super Bowl 2023
The Republic-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions, defeating Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles in a Super Bowl 2023 that should go down as one of the best ever.

One of the most highly-anticipated games in SB history provided excitement early. Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes delivered touchdowns on each of their game-opening drives. After a back-and-forth in the first quarter, Philadelphia took control in the second quarter.

The Eagles truly dominated the first half, controlling the football for more than 20 minutes of action and outgaining the Chiefs in yardage by a wide margin (270-128). Outside of a Nick Bolton fumble return touchdown, Kansas City couldn’t get anything going after the first quarter and went into halftime down 24-14.

Related: 2023 NFL mock draft

Kansas City fought its way back in the third quarter, with its offense finding the end zone to make it a one-score game. Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ defense went into bend but don’t break mode, doing just enough to make it a 27-21 game in the fourth quarter.

It’s the fourth quarter that made Super Bowl 2023 one of the best in NFL history. Mahomes and Hurts went shot-for-shot, using their arm and legs to make it a 35-35 game. When it mattered most, though, Mahomes made the most of his final drive to earn the Lombardi Trophy.

Let’s dive into the winners and losers from Super Bowl 2023.

Winner: Jalen Hurts can write his own contract

NFL: Super Bowl LVII-Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Estimates for a Jalen Hurts contract extension before Super Bowl LVII sat around $50 million per season. The Eagles were prepared to meet the asking price, even if Hurts didn’t bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Philadelphia. Now, general manager Howie Roseman might as well present a blank check to Hurts and offer him whatever he wants in the city.

Related: Who won Super Bowl 2023 MVP?

In the first half alone, Hurts was sensational. Outside of the one mistake – the fumble-return touchdown – he was essentially perfect. Hurts led the Eagles in rushing (63 yards), finding the end zone twice on his own in the first half. Wanting to spread the love, he racked up 183 passing yards with a 116.3 passer rating, getting A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith heavily involved.

In the second half, Hurts simply broke NFL records for the most rushing yards and touchdowns by a quarterback in a single Super Bowl. Hurts played like a future Hall of Famer, an NFL star who can do this for a decade. The Eagles should and will pay him whatever he wants.

Loser: State Farm Stadium grass

NFL: Super Bowl LVII-Stadium and Field Preparation Press Conference
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a season with so many complaints over field conditions at a variety of NFL stadiums, the situation at Super Bowl 2023 was unacceptable. The Arizona Cardinals played their last game at State Farm Stadium on Dec. 25, providing stadium officials and the grounds grew with more than a month to ensure the field was pristine.

Instead, 100 million people watched Chiefs and Eagles players repeatedly lose their footing on the natural glass. It was an alarming issue throughout Sunday’s game, the NFL should just consider itself fortunate we avoided a serious injury because of it. Just an inexcusable issue on the biggest stage that should require a careful review this offseason. A truly embarrassing moment for all involved in this disaster.Nic

Winner: Brett Veach is the secret Chiefs’ MVP

NFL: AFC Championship-Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When Brett Veach decided to trade Tyreek Hill, it seemed like Kansas City’s general manager might be looking past the 2022 season and instead just focusing on the future. It turns out, one of the best talent evaluators in the NFL knew exactly what he was doing.

It’s about so much more than picking Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City drafted Isiah Pacheco in the seventh round, added JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency and traded for Kadarius Toney. We also have to account for linebacker Nick Bolton, who made a huge impact on the Chiefs. This is a team well-positioned to be competitive for years to come because they have both an all-time great quarterback and a general manager who knows how to build around Mahomes.

Loser: Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

So much of the credit for the Eagles’ success on offense belongs to the coaching staff and players. However, Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo seemingly couldn’t scheme up a single thing that provided the smallest hurdle for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Eagles offense first-half stats
  • 24 points on six drives
  • 270 total yards, 6.1 yards per play
  • 60% third-down conversion rate (6-of-10)
  • 22 minutes of possession time
  • Zero sacks, QB hits

The numbers are appalling and the defensive issues put Kansas City into a massive hole. Spagnuolo earned praise for the team’s defensive turnaround in the second half of the regular season. Perhaps, though, that was the result of facing the Denver Broncos twice along with matchups against the Houston Texans and Jarrett Stidham. Despite the awful defense, though, Mahomes saved the day.

Winner: Nick Bolton has a career-changing game

NFL: Super Bowl LVII-Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Selected with the 58th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Nick Bolton was a polarizing selection to many draft analysts. The former second-team All-American at Missouri didn’t seem like a solution to the Chiefs’ linebacker issues. Two years later, he looks like one of the best players from his draft class.

Bolton shined in the regular season, recording 55 stops with 108 solo tackles and nine TFLs. Still, he faced some skepticism. On Sunday, the 22-year-old linebacker delivered the game of his life. It goes beyond the fumble return touchdown, some of that is fortunate timing. What stood out is how Bolton flew to the football and just wreck anything the Eagles attempted near him.

This can be a career-defining moment. It’s the type of game that sends players to the Pro Bowl the following year and stays in the mind of All-Pro voters. It also provides Bolton with even more confidence to carry through the remainder of a promising career.

Winner: Patrick Mahomes is an all-time great

Syndication: Arizona Republic
Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s no discussion necessary. Patrick Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Even on a night when he aggravated his high-ankle sprain, the face of pro football demonstrated why he is one of the best to ever do it.

Keep in mind, Mahomes isn’t even 28 years old yet. Through the first five seasons of his NFL career, Mahomes now has two Super Bowl MVPs and two NFL MVPs. He’s on pace to chase down career passing records and this is just the start of his prime. We are witnesses to history because Mahomes might be the only player who can challenge Tom Brady for the GOAT title.

Loser: ‘Never been better officiating’ is a telling statement

NFL: Super Bowl LVII-Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the football world before Super Bowl 2023 that officiating in pro football has never been better. If that’s the case, it’s a damning statement about the state of the NFL’s referees.

The penalty that gifted Kansas City a first down and effectively allowed them to end the game shouldn’t be called in the regular season. We’ve seen defensive backs in far less meaningful games be more aggressive than that and nothing is called. For that to happen in the Super Bowl, in a moment that might’ve dictated who won the Lombardi Trophy, wreaks of a bigger problem.

Then again, maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. Both the AFC and NFC Championship Games provided ample evidence that officiating is at one of its lowest points right now. No one claims refs have an easy job, but the egregiousness of the missed calls and bad decisions we saw this season is an indictment against the NFL, its owner and Goodell. Then again, this feels like a fitting way to end the season.

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