The Kansas City Chiefs have won their second Super Bowl in four seasons, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes appeared to overcome re-aggravating his ankle injury in the first half, rallying the Chiefs in the second to a victory that puts the team in a “dynasty” conversation after they won the title game in 2020 and reached the season finale in 2021.
In the first Super Bowl to feature two Black starting quarterbacks, Mahomes threw three touchdown passes to three receivers, Isiah Pacheco ran for one score and linebacker Nick Bolton scored on a fumble return. Kicker Harrison Butker made the winning 27-yard field goal with eight seconds left.
“It was just all heart. We knew we didn’t play our best in the first half,” tight end Travis Kelce – who competed against his brother – said when told Kansas City scored on every drive after intermission. Given the enormity of the moment, some players played out of character in the first half, he said, “and we were just able to regroup at halftime and figure it out.”
“In that second half, we were just flying around.”
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Outside of the game, women got a chance to shine on the NFL’s mammoth stage, with an all-woman military crew helping to open the night’s pageantry from the skies and Rihanna dazzling fans with some of her biggest musical hits at halftime.
And if you were just there for the commercials, some big celebrities were there, too – though perhaps not all of them lived up to those enormous TV-time price tags.
Here are some of the highlights from the biggest day in US sports.
Patrick Mahomes plays through pain
While the rest of the audience was loving (or hating) Rihanna’s halftime performance, Kansas City fans were sweating it out.
Mahomes, who suffered a high ankle sprain on his right leg on January 21 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, appeared to hurt the same ankle late in the first half. With a little more than 90 seconds left in the half, Mahomes was scrambling on third down and 15 when linebacker TJ Edwards tackled him around his ankles. Mahomes stayed down after the tackle for an uncomfortably long time for Chiefs fans.
Mahomes hopped to the sideline, winced in pain on the bench and briefly put his head on the shoulder of a staff member. The Chiefs didn’t return to the field in the half.
The 27-year-old quarterback didn’t look too hurt, though, when he ran off the field at halftime, at which point Mahomes was 8-of-13 passing for 89 yards and had two rushes for 11 yards.
“I knew I wasn’t coming out of this game, even with that high ankle sprain; it kinda re-aggravated a little bit,” Mahomes told the NFL Network after the win. “I’ll worry about that in the offseason.”
The youngest quarterback to ever start three Super Bowls made Chiefs fans feel a lot better on the first drive of the second half, leading his side on a touchdown drive that included a key 14-yard run.
On the game-winning drive, Mahomes had another vital rush for 26 yards that put the winners in field-goal position. Mahomes winced as he got up to head back to the huddle, TV replays showed.
“Well, he’s the MVP,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “That’s all that needs to be said. … And he showed it tonight.”
And Mahomes will add the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award to his trophy case after his stellar performance Sunday.
Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts has magnificent game
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was brilliant, rushing for a Super Bowl quarterback record of three touchdowns and 70 rushing yards, another record. And his two-point conversion via the ground made it 35-35. He also passed for one score, completing 27 of 38 passes for 304 yards.
“Jalen played the best game I’ve seen him play in the two years we’ve been together,” Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. “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.”
AJ Brown had a 45-yard touchdown catch and Jake Elliott kicked two field goals.
But no doubt Hurts will regret a fumble that just slipped out of his hands.
It was the first Eagles fumble of the postseason, and it briefly cost the NFC champs some momentum at a crucial point in the second quarter.
As the Eagles were driving for a score that would put them up two possessions, Hurts was running to his right when he let the ball slip from his hands at the Eagles’ 44. The ball took a nice hop and was scooped up by Kansas City linebacker Nick Bolton at 36, who scooted untouched into the end zone. With 9:39, the score was tied again at 14-14.
To his credit, Hurts almost immediately shrugged off the miscue, and on the next drive got those points back.
On the 12th play of the ensuing drive, Hurts ran for his second touchdown of the game, slicing through the Chiefs defense from 4 yards out. That and the extra point made it 21-14 with 2:20 left in the half.
This year’s controversial penalty call
It never fails; every big game – heck, almost every game, period – has a controversial penalty call or missed call that figures into the outcome. And in the Super Bowl, it came with just under two minutes remaining in a tie game.
Mahomes aimed a pass for JuJu Smith-Schuster that sailed over the Chiefs wide receiver into the Eagles’ end zone. It appeared the Chiefs would have to kick a field goal and the Eagles would get the ball back with enough time on the clock to possibly engineer a scoring drive.
But the flag came out, and an official said Philadelphia defensive back James Bradberry was guilty of holding as Smith-Schuster was making his move to get open.
Instead of being forced to kick a field goal from the 22, the Chiefs, given a new set of downs, were able to run precious time off the clock and get closer for the game-winning kick.
Many Eagles fans hated the call and other folks thought even if it was technically correct, it was nit-picky at a momentous time in a momentous game.
“On this stage, I think you let them play, finish this thing out,” Fox broadcaster Greg Olsen, a former star tight end, said. “I don’t love that call.”
But Mike Pereira, the network’s rules expert, said: “I think you’ve got to see the whole thing. It seemed to me at the initial break he grabbed the back of the jersey and pulled it. If we see that, I think it is a hold.”
The player called for the foul didn’t argue with it being a penalty.
“It was a (hold),” Bradberry said in the locker room, according to NFL.com. “I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide.”
Damar Hamlin cheers – and says he aims to return
Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills got to live out a dream by making it to the Super Bowl – albeit as a fan, not a player. But seeing the 24-year-old who almost died on the field last month having fun at the big game was heartwarming.
The second-year safety eventually wants to return to a football field and is thankful to get a second chance at life, he told Super Bowl broadcaster Fox in a pregame interview.
“Eventually, that’s always the goal. Like I said, I’m trying to do things to keep advancing my situation. But I’m allowing that to be in God’s hands. I’m just thankful he gave me a second chance,” he told Michael Strahan.
Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle in the first quarter of the Bills-Bengals game on January 2. Doctors and trainers gave Hamlin CPR on the field, and he was rushed out of the stadium in an ambulance, leaving players, coaches, fans and those watching on TV in shock, unsure whether he was alive. Experts credit the on-field staff with saving Hamlin’s life after he went into cardiac arrest.
The toughest part of the experience was processing his emotions, Hamlin said.
“I kind of like my privacy in a way, but you know, this situation kind of just brought me to the light of the world, which is a good thing in a way because I really feel like I stand for so much good,” he said. “I want to be a good example for … communities around the world. There’s a reason behind everything.”
During the game, Hamlin could be seen in the commissioner’s box sitting with Roger Goodell. Later, he posted a photo with LeBron James.
Kelce brothers make Super Bowl history
Hamlin also sat with Donna Kelce – the first mom to have two sons play against each other in a Super Bowl as brothers Travis, a Kansas City Chiefs tight end, and Jason, a Philadelphia Eagles center, faced off Sunday.
Donna knew she’d be cheering loudly for both offenses throughout the game and the night would be emotional regardless of the outcome – with one child reveling in victory and the other facing a bitter defeat, she said before the matchup.
And, of course, that’s how it unfolded, with Travis sounding off afterward about the perceived disrespect aimed at the underdog Chiefs.
“Not one of y’all said the Chiefs were gonna take it home this year!” Kelce said. “Not a single one. Feel that s**t! Feel it, and on top of that, next time the Chiefs say something, put some respect on our name!”
Still, Travis and Jason were seen together after the game, embracing and chatting on the confetti-strewn field amid a swarm of players, reporters and family members – including Donna Kelce.
All-female flyover also marks a first
History of another sort was made even before the coin toss, as the ceremonial pre-game military flyover was performed for the first time by an all-women crew.
The flyover was scheduled to feature two F/A-18F Super Hornets from the “Flying Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122, an F-35C Lightning II from the “Argonauts” of VFA-147, and an EA-18G Growler from the “Vikings” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129.
Lieutenant Katie Martinez, a Naval Flight Officer assigned to VFA-122, struggled to describe the magnitude of the moment.
“It’s not a feeling I can even put into words,” she said before the flyover. “It doesn’t get bigger than the Super Bowl, and I am humbled and honored to be able to participate with my friends and fellow Naval aviators as part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Rihanna ruled the halftime extravaganza
The superstar singer dazzled in a 13-minute performance of her greatest hits, owning the stage while fueling buzz she’s pregnant – rumors later confirmed as true by her representative to CNN.
Dressed all in red, down to the shade of lipstick she chose, Rihanna kicked off the performance flying high over the field on a floating stage singing, “B**ch Better Have My Money.” She followed that with some of her biggest hits, including, “We Found Love,” “Rude Boy,” “Work,” “Only Girl (In the World)” and “Umbrella.”
Skipping the typical Super Bowl halftime guest appearances, Rihanna included her verses on the Kanye West hit “All of the Lights” and “Run This Town,” a song she recorded with West and Jay-Z. She closed out the performance with “Diamonds” as she rubbed her belly.
In the days leading up to the show, Rihanna had shared details about the challenges of putting together the halftime performance.
“The set list was the biggest challenge. That was the hardest, hardest part,” she told Apple Music. “Deciding how to maximize 13 minutes but also celebrate. That’s what the show is gonna be. It’s going to be a celebration of my catalog in the best way that we could have put it together.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Travis Kelce's last name.
CNN’s Homero De la Fuente and David Close contributed to this report.