On March 20, 2022, Juju Smith-Schuster signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs worth up to 10.75 million dollars. Two months later, on May 18, James Bradberry signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles worth 7.5 million dollars. Smith-Schuster’s career has over recent years revolved around TikTok controversies and injuries. After trading Tyreek Hill away, Kansas City’s wide receiver core was depleted, opening the door for Smith-Schuster to revitalize his career and make a run at a championship. Bradberry, a one-time Pro Bowler, has been a solid cornerback throughout his seven seasons; unfortunately, he had to rework his contract with the New York Giants twice over his two seasons there, causing him to seek other employment for this season. Bradberry put his faith in the Eagles and proved his value this season and made the All-Pro Second Team. Bradberry’s All-Pro season consisted of the same number of interceptions as Smith-Schuster had touchdowns with three apiece. But with a minute and 54 seconds left in a tied game with the Lombardi Trophy up for grabs, all that mattered was the call.
In one of the better Super Bowls we have seen in recent memory, both high-powered offenses were on full display. Both teams scored on their opening drives in notorious fashion, Jalen Hurts using his legs and Patrick Mahomes finding his favorite target, Travis Kelce. This would be the first of three rushing touchdowns for Hurts. Both teams had a single costly miscue in the first half. On the Chiefs’ second drive of the game, Kansas City looked to grab hold of the momentum lining up for a 42-yard field goal. Harrison Butker would doink the kick off of the left upright, keeping the game tied at seven. Philadelphia responded with a long touchdown as Hurts found A.J. Brown for a 45-yard reception. The Philly Special is one of the most memorable Super Bowl plays of all time. In this game, we got the Philly Fumble. On the drive ensuing the Brown touchdown, Jalen Hurts was scrambling out of the pocket and, without being touched, dropped the ball, which was then recovered by Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton who returned it 36 yards for the scoop and score. The Eagles did not lose focus and added ten more points onto the board before half, leading the game 24-14.
Kansas City was nearly perfect in the second half, scoring on every one of their drives and taking the lead at the start of the fourth quarter on similar back-to-back touchdowns. Down 27-21, Kadarius Toney motioned in towards the quarterback, tricking the defense into leaving him uncovered and allowing for a wide-open touchdown pass. The next Kansas City drive ended on the same play on the opposite side with Sky Moore catching the touchdown. The Eagles secondary made the same fatal mistake and gave Kansas City a 35-27 lead. Jalen Hurts continued to prove why he was in the same MVP conversation as Mahomes, leading the Eagles down the field to tie the game with a touchdown followed by a two-point conversion.
Mahomes, in his already illustrious playoff career, has become known for leading dramatic comebacks. He had already proven that an injured ankle and a ten-point deficit were not enough to kill his fighting spirit. His ankle was vital to this game-winning drive as the biggest chunk play of the drive came on a 26-yard run from the MVP quarterback. The game boiled down to a third-and-eight on the Eagles 15-yard-line. Mahomes threw a ball in the direction of Juju Smith-Schuster. The ball landed at least five yards in front of the receiver, but a yellow flag was thrown onto the field. James Bradberry was the culprit of holding after a slight jersey tuck was sighted as Smith-Schuster attempted to turn up field. This gave the Chiefs a first down and the ability to kneel out the clock. Butker would make up for his earlier mistake, hitting the game winning 27-yard field goal.
Bradberry addressed the media with grace after the game, noting that the holding call was correct, and he had hoped they wouldn’t call it. Smith-Schuster was not as civil, posting a Valentine’s Day card on his social media account depicting Bradberry with the quote, “I’ll hold you when it matters most.” Players around the NFL and throughout the NFL fan base have ridiculed Smith-Schuster for this post, noting how Bradberry had a more impressive season and that the Super Bowl win was not due to Smith-Schuster’s play. Despite this dramatic aftermath, the history books will show a 38-35 victory for the Chiefs, their third in franchise history and second in three attempts with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback.
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