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SUPER BOWL

Philadelphia Eagles' collapse in second half vs. Chiefs costs them Super Bowl title | Opinion

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The Super Bowl, like every other NFL game, has two halves. The Philadelphia Eagles only showed up for one of them.

After pushing the Kansas City Chiefs to the brink and hobbling Patrick Mahomes, the Eagles imploded in the second half.听They were outscored, outgained, outdisciplined 鈥 outhustled 鈥撎齛nd, as a result, they're out a Lombardi Trophy.听

Maybe that's harsh, given the final score was 38-35 and it took the Chiefs until the closing seconds to seal the victory. But when you have a 10-point lead, all the momentum and Mahomes barely able to run off the field at halftime, that's as close to a gimme as it gets in the NFL's biggest game.听

And the Eagles know it.听

"It's a frustrating one," center Jason Kelce said. "It is what it is."

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Give credit to the Chiefs, and Mahomes in particular. He's better on one leg than almost everyone else on two, setting up a touchdown and the game-winning field goal with long scrambles and throwing for another two scores in the second half.听

Kansas City's defense found a different gear in the second half, too.听

But this was the Eagles' game to lose after that first half. And they did.听

Philadelphia allowed听the longest punt return in Super Bowl history, 65 yards by Kadarius Toney to set up Kansas City鈥檚 third touchdown of the second half. After leading the NFL in sacks during the regular season, the Eagles didn't get to Mahomes once.听

The vaunted offensive line, which had made the Eagles impervious to opposing defenses, let Jalen Hurts get sacked on a drive that ended in a field goal when a touchdown would have given Philadelphia badly needed breathing room.听 And after Mahomes couldn鈥檛 connect with JuJu Smith-Schuster on a third-and-8 after the two-minute warning, the Eagles were whistled for holding, giving Kansas City new life.

It was a ticky-tack penalty, yes 鈥 like so many others this season, no matter what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says. But it was holding.

"I tugged his jersey," Eagles cornerback James Bradberry said. "I was hoping they would let it slide."

At that point in the game, with everything that was at stake, you can't count on hope. You have to make sure you don't听give the refs any excuse to blow that whistle.听

Zach Pascal is probably contemplating what could have been amid the confetti flying for the Chiefs.

Because good teams will take advantage. And Mahomes and the Chiefs aren't just a good team, they're a great team.

Andy Reid, criticized so many times over the years for his clock management, milked it to perfection this time. He burned almost 90 seconds before Harrison Butker kicked the game-winning, 27-yard field goal, giving the Eagles the ball back with just six seconds left.听

Hurts'听Hail Mary was incomplete, and Mahomes and the Chiefs had their second Super Bowl title in four years.听

"You look back and you鈥檙e going to reflect on the things maybe that you could have done, something more ... something to change the outcome of the game," Hurts said.

Hurts did just about everything he could, running for 70 yards and throwing for 304 and a TD. But the Eagles didn't close out the game like championship teams will.听

The Eagles seemed to have control of the game late in that first half. Another gutsy call on fourth down by Nick Sirianni led to Philadelphia's third touchdown, and Kansas City's defense wasn't getting close to Hurts.听

When T.J. Edwards made a shoestring tackle on Mahomes, the reigning MVP rolled on that right ankle that has been the subject of such speculation these last three weeks. He lay on the field grimacing, and he was limping as much as he was running to the locker room at halftime.听听

But there is, as the saying goes, a reason they play the game. And the Eagles 鈥 and Sirianni 鈥 were overmatched when it really mattered.

The Chiefs rallying in the second half is not something new. Mahomes making plays when he's not full strength听isn't new, either. Yet the Eagles weren't ready for any of it.

Or, if they were, they couldn't do anything about it.

The Chiefs scored on every possession in the second half, and Mahomes made two big plays with his legs. There was his scramble for 14 yards to set up Kansas City's first touchdown of the second half. His 26-yard run before Butker's field goal was even more improbable.

But it wasn't just Philadelphia's defense. Yes, Hurts ran for his third TD of the game and then ran the 2-point conversion in to tie the score at 35 with 5:15 left to play. But the most pivotal drive had come before that.听

Kansas City had just taken its first lead of the game, and the Eagles needed to answer. Instead, they went three-and-out for just the second time of the game. The ensuing punt was the one Toney nearly took to the house.听

There's no shame in losing to a great team and a generational quarterback like Mahomes. But on this night, the Eagles beat themselves as much as they got beat.听

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