Andy Reid and Nick Sirianni agreed. The two coaches chose almost identical words to describe their feelings after getting into the Super Bowl. “It’s fantastic,” said Reid, 64, after his Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, adding, “The work isn’t done yet.” Sirianni, 41, struck a similar note. “It’s what you dream of as a kid,” the Philadelphia Eagles coach revealed on US television after his team rolled over the San Francisco 49ers. “We’re enjoying that now and then getting ready for the Super Bowl. One is left.”
In fact, this year’s National Football League (NFL) finals will see the top two teams of the regular season clash. The last step to the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona on February 13 (12:30 a.m. German time) could hardly have been more different for the two finalists.
“It definitely didn’t feel good, but I fought my way through it,” emphasized Patrick Mahomes after his Chiefs’ dramatic 23:20 against Cincinnati. Kansas’ quarterback started the game with an ankle injury. Whether he would play against the Bengals around quarterback Joe Burrow was not worth asking for the 27-year-old in advance. On the lawn, however, Mahomes was clearly in pain; he didn’t seem as agile and strong as usual. But when an extension threatened in the final seconds at 20:20, the Chiefs’ quarterback ignored his injured foot – and ran. “There are moments in a game when you just have to risk everything,” Mahomes commented on his decision.
The Superstar tucked the ball under his arm and ran towards the end zone of Arrowhead Stadium. Joseph Ossai, the Bengals’ defensive end, knocked him over roughly and unnecessarily when he was already on the side. A doubly annoying mistake: On the one hand, Ossai apparently injured his cruciate ligament badly during the illegal action, on the other hand, the Chiefs moved even closer to the yellow goalposts of the Bengals a few seconds before the end with the 15-yard penalty.
Harrison Butker finally kicked the ball through the goal from 45 yards and gave his teammates and fans a warming party in the sub-zero temperatures. How much the victory in the fourth attempt against the Bengals meant became clear in the subsequent interviews.
Travis Kelce babbled live over the stadium microphone in the confetti rain in the direction of the mayor of Cincinnati and Mahomes also trumpeted what he thought of the provocative comments before the game: nothing. “This is still Arrowhead and not Burrowhead,” he alluded to his losing competitor. With two touchdown passes and throws for a total of 326 yards, Mahomes previously had an outstanding game – for the circumstances. “It’s going to be a great challenge, but first I’m going to celebrate this. I don’t think we have cigars, but we’ll be prepared for the Super Bowl,” Mahomes promised.
His opponent in the Super Bowl, Jalen Hurts, had already puffed away in the rush of victory. While the fans on the streets of Philadelphia screamed their joy from traffic lights and lanterns into the night, the Eagles quarterback sat contentedly in the locker room after the 31: 7 against the San Francisco 49ers, scrolled around on his cell phone and pulled on a thick one Cigar. Hurts had a quarterback record against the Californians with his 15th running touchdown of the season.
In a one-sided game, the Eagles, who are back in the final five years after their first Super Bowl win, also benefited from the 49ers’ unbelievable bad luck with injuries. After the injuries to Jimi Garoppolo and Trey Lance, Brock Purdy had led San Francisco to the semifinals. There the tale of Mr. Irrelevant (Purdy was once drafted last) ended abruptly.
After Purdy injured his elbow in the first drive of the game against the Eagles, Josh Johnson was the fourth (!) quarterback to play. Johnson later suffered a concussion, forcing Purdy to return to the turf without being able to throw. Only with running moves San Francisco had no chance. Or maybe it was because fans put a 49ers jersey on the iconic Rocky Balboa statue ahead of the game. The supporters of the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings had already hung their jerseys on the monument to the boxer played by Sylvester Stallone. Each time, the Eagles then defeated their opponent. In Philadelphia, people are now talking about the Rocky curse.
For the first time in Super Bowl history, two black quarterbacks will duel in Glendale. “To be honest, I don’t really know what to think about that,” Hurts said after Philadelphia’s win. “You work really hard to get into this position. I’m forever grateful.” The historical significance of the clash between Mahomes and Hurts becomes even clearer when you look at the statistics: Only three African-American quarterbacks led their team to the NFL title. Doug Williams (Washington Redskins) was first in 1988. This was followed in 2014 by Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) and six years later by Mahomes. It won’t be the only premiere at Arizona’s State Farm Stadium.
Travis and Jason Kelce will be the first brothers to play each other in the Super Bowl, according to ESPN. In Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, a declaration of war was therefore announced on Sunday evening. “I’m officially done being a Chiefs fan this season,” Eagles center Jason Kelce tweeted after his brother Travis helped Kansas City also make the Super Bowl.
The main thing for Travis and his teammates now is to get reasonably fit before the game against Philadelphia. In addition to Mahomes, Kelce (back) also started the game against the Bengals with problems; L’Jarius Sneed, Willie Gay Junior, Toney, Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster all sustained injuries during the game.
A circumstance that apparently also has an influence on the behavior in the betting shops. Originally, the bookmakers had predicted a draw for Super Bowl LVII, but on Sunday night the Philadelphia Eagles prevailed as slight favorites within an hour of the announcement of the first odds.