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Jalen Hurts Did Everything Right, Except For One Thing

Jalen Hurts runs the ball
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Watching Jalen Hurts play his way through Super Bowl 57, it was hard to remember that he really hasn't been at this for very long. Hurts is 24 years old, and Sunday's game was just the 37th start of his NFL career. Everyone knew that he was a good player before this game started—bad players don't lead their teams to 14-3 regular-season records while rushing for 13 touchdowns and throwing for 22—but there's a gap between being good and being good enough to win a Super Bowl. Hurts came about as close to traversing that gap as any player can while still going home a loser.

We'll get the excruciating nature in which Hurts fell short eventually, but there are other things to talk about. Over the last half-decade, we've learned that there are precious few ways to beat Patrick Mahomes. One of those ways is to batter him, and the other is to negate him entirely. The Eagles didn't manage a single sack tonight, which left them with the second option. Philadelphia held the Chiefs to just four first-half drives, during which they ran just 20 total plays. Kansas City possessed the ball for just eight of the first half's 30 minutes.

You can't win the possession battle as definitively as that without a quarterback who is in complete control, and that's what the Eagles had. Hurts completed 17 of his 22 pass attempts in the first half while throwing for 183 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 63 yards and two more touchdowns. More than that, he was orchestrating the game. He ran the read-option to perfection, he scrambled all over the place, he completed deep balls down the field, and he converted the third- and fourth-down plays that the Eagles needed in order to keep the ball out of Mahomes's hands.

The Eagles led by 10 at halftime, and even while Andy Reid, Mahomes, and Eric Bieniemy were busy reclaiming the lead by digging into the Unstoppable Plays portion of their playbook, Hurts stayed up for the challenge. This is the type of throw that deserves to win a game:

The same can be said about this run:

The reason those plays did not add up to Hurts lifting the trophy on the field with his teammates has a lot to do with the greatness of Mahomes and the Chiefs, but Hurts has plenty of blame to hold. When people tell the story of this game, they won't be able to do so without talking about this play:

The one mistake Hurts made all night was as costly as they come, gifting the Chiefs a first-half touchdown that kept them in a game that the Eagles had been threatening to run away with up until that point.

A mistake like that can ruin a game, and in this case a season, but what Hurts built out of the wreckage of that mistake was exactly the kind of performance that was required to undo its effects. There's the outline of a story there, one about a young quarterback momentarily wavering in the biggest game of his career, but then finding his steel and continuing his ascent towards greatness anyway. Maybe if Hurts had been given the fortune of playing this game against anyone but Patrick Mahomes, that ascent wouldn't have stopped just short of the summit.

Hurts rallied from a low point that could have undone many players, so forcefully that it felt like nothing short of a perfect second half from his opponent would be enough to deny him the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on every single one of their second-half drives; Mahomes threw one incomplete pass after halftime; a horse-shit penalty on the final drive of the game is all that stopped Hurts from getting a shot at a game-winning drive of his own. Football is a real bastard sometimes.

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