It happens every play, but our author thought it really stood out in the most important football game of the year. Image courtesy NFL

This past Sunday, Super Bowl LVII was the latest example of just exactly why the NFL sits high atop the mountain of national sports interest. The contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles managed to pull in a gobsmacking 113 million viewers, the third highest TV audience ever. Whether you tuned in because you’re a regular football fan or because this is America and one out of every five households is going to have the game on anyway and you were just there for the food, it was certainly worth your time. Well, the majority of it, anyway.

If, over the course of a broadcast stretched to nearly six hours in length, you could manage to fight through exhaustive pregame coverage, the pomp of the usual halftime spectacle, and a literal hour’s worth of shoehorned celebrities, eye-rolling attempts at comedy, and the emotionally manipulative use of good puppy dogs in the biggest advertising splurge of the year, there was actually a damn good football game being played.

Amid all the extracurriculars, viewers witnessed two of the sport’s elites trading blows for 60 full minutes in an absolute clinic of big-game NFL quarterbacking. Led by the undeniable best player on the planet in Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City just managed to stave off an upstart Eagles team in the game’s final seconds. The 38-35 stunner could have been thought of as one of those riveting back-and-forth games you’re almost sad that someone had to lose, except one of those teams was the Iggles, so reveling in a Philly failure was just icing on the great football game cake.

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I’ll hand it to him. With the exception of one extremely costly error, Jalen Hurts played a spectacular game. The Eagle QB’s 27/38 for 304 yards and four total TDs would easily have earned him a Super Bowl MVP trophy to go with the Lombardi had Philthy won. Sadly, the guy on the other side played even better.

After a first half that saw KC struggle to get their offense on the field as the Eagles churned drives with play counts numbering in the double digits time and again[,] and which saw them jump to a 10-point lead, Mahomes would ensure the Chiefs scored on every possession in the second half, going 13/14 for 93 yards and three TDs. His one incompletion was a throw-away toward the sideline to avoid oncoming Philadelphia pressure.

Not all of his work was done through the air. He also added a gutsy 26-yard scramble — on one leg, mind you — to bring the Chiefs into game-winning field goal range. The star signal-caller irritated the high ankle sprain he suffered in the AFC Championship on the final drive of the first half and was in visible pain afterward on the sideline. After such a leave-it-all-on-the-field performance, it was a no-brainer that No. 15 would be awarded his second Super Bowl MVP.

If the game had one small blemish, it would be the controversial third-down holding penalty by Eagles defensive back James Bradberry. With the game tied at 35-35, the tug on KC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (Bradberry actually held twice on the play, IMO) at the 1:54 mark awarded the Chiefs a nail-in-the-coffin first down. After a heads-up decision by RB Jerrick McKinnon to give himself up at the 1-yard line instead of what must have been a mighty tempting walk-in touchdown, the Chiefs were able to run the clock all the way down to just 11 seconds for the chip-shot Harrison Butker field goal for the win.

If you ask me, the only thing controversial about the call is that it is somehow seen as controversial. There’s no question Bradberry held him. The cornerback even admitted as such after the game.

“It was holding,” he said in a postgame interview.

Spare me the “Yeah, but you can’t call that at that stage of the game!” BS. Do rules somehow just cease to matter in a game’s final minutes? It’s also assuming a lot that if the Eagles did get the ball back they would have just marched down the field and scored a game-winning touchdown. Maybe next time just try not to commit a completely avoidable penalty at such a critical juncture of the game?

Despite the “controversy,” it was a thrilling game, and we’re all fortunate to have been able to witness it. The Philly fans whining only adds to the gluttony of Schadenfreude I’ve been gorging myself on for the last few days. The meme-ified image of punchable Eagles Head Coach Nick Siranni openly weeping has been playing on repeat in my brain, and the dopamine bursts it has provided me have spurred me on to a much springier step, a cleaner house (with completely finished laundry), and a noticeable 10% performance uptick at my day job.

I’ll just ignore the fact that the image was taken at an emotional moment during a moving National Anthem performed by country guitar hero Chris Stapleton rather than at Butker’s Super Bowl-clinching kick.