Thu, 30 Mar 2023

Super Bowl notebook: QBs proud to be in historic matchup

Field Level Media
07 Feb 2023, 15:55 GMT+10

Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are days away from being part of a momentous occasion.

Mahomes and Hurts are slated to become the first pair of Black quarterbacks to start in the same Super Bowl when they lead the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively, into action on Sunday inGlendale, Ariz.

Both players are NFL MVP finalists, and both are very aware of the symbolism involved.

"I think it's historic," Hurts said during Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday in Phoenix. "I think it sets the foundation for what's to come. So many kids out there, so many kids -- (coaches) may tell them to change their position or whatever it is. (Remaining at quarterback) can be done, and this is a historic moment. I know it will be a show. It will be a fun one."

Mahomes said he has tons of respect for the Black quarterbacks of previous eras, specifically naming Doug Williams, the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl when he guided the Washington franchise to a 42-10 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII in San Diego.

"It's a historic moment and to be a part of it with two historic football teams," Mahomes said. "So many people laid down the foundation before us. To be playing with a guy like Jalen, who I know is doing it the right way, it's going to be a special moment that hopefully lives on forever."

Mahomes is one of three Black quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl. He guided the Chiefs to a 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Russell Wilson is the other. He led the Seattle Seahawks to a 43-8 rout of the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

--The Chiefs activated running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire from the injured list on Monday, opening the way for the third-year pro to play against the Eagles.

Edwards-Helaire hasn't played since sustaining a high ankle sprain against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11.

Kansas City placed receiver Mecole Hardman (pelvis) on injured reserve to open the roster spot.

Edwards-Helaire rushed for 302 yards and three touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 151 yards and three scores in 10 games (six starts). He figures to be mixed in with rookie Isiah Pacheco (830 rushing yards in the regular season) and veteran Jerick McKinnon (10 regular-season scores, nine via the air).

--There is a lot of chatter about the dominant defense of the Eagles, who have racked up a whopping 78 sacks during the regular season and postseason. That is third most all-time behind the mid-1980s Chicago Bears, who had a record 82 in 1984 and 80 in 1985.

There isn't a lot of talk about the defensive unit of the Chiefs, who finished second in the regular season with 55 sacks and have 62 entering the Super Bowl.

Kansas City defensive end Chris Jones isn't surprised nobody is discussing the team's defense. The four-time Pro Bowl selection, who tied his career high with 15.5 sacks, said that is part of the territory.

"I think it's normal for us to get overlooked, especially when we have so many high-powered offensive players," Jones said. "Like nobody really pays attention to defense but I think we have been striding at the right moment, especially toward the end of the season."

The Chiefs finished the regular season with rankings of 11th in total defense (328.2 yards per game) and 16th in scoring defense (21.7 points per game). Philadelphia was second in total defense (301.5) and eighth in scoring defense (20.2).

-- Three years after being drafted in the seventh round, former Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata is starting at left tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Mailata, 25, credits center Jason Kelce for helping him become so successful so quickly. He started 16 games for the NFC East champions in 2022.

And Mailata used more than his words to prove his point. He held up his cellphone during an interview on Monday at Super Bowl LVII Opening Night in Phoenix, displaying a photo of Kelce as his background screen.

"That's Fat Batman," Mailata said. "That's how much of an inspiration he is to me. It's an honor playing with Jason Kelce and the player and the person that he is. You couldn't ask for a better teammate and leader."

--There's no questioning the toughness of Eagles All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson, who put off surgery to repair a torn core muscle until after the season.

The 10-year Eagles veteran thrives on challenges and is ready for a big one on the other side of the line Sunday when he opposes Chiefs All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones.

"I think Chris Jones is the premier guy in the league," Johnson said. "His ability to rush the passer and play the run at his size, and what he can do with his size -- 6-6 and 310, 315 -- he just dominated really every game he's been a part of."

Jones matched his career high with 15.5 sacks during the regular season and recorded two against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

"There's times he will line up on the right tackle, left tackle," Johnson said. "I feel like what they do is they just try to go down the line and see what mismatches they have."

--The Philadelphia defense allowed a combined 14 points and 391 total yards in playoff wins against the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.

"Really we just hold each other accountable and complement each other," Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "It doesn't matter what it is. We complement each other in everything that we're doing. For me, when you're doing stuff like that, it's just so special."

Philadelphia led the NFL with 70 sacks during the regular season and became the first team in NFL history with four players collecting double-digit sacks: Haason Reddick with 16 and Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham with 11 each.

Cox, 32, who had seven sacks in his 11th season with the Eagles, said it will be business as usual Sunday against the Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

"We've just got to continue doing what we're doing," Cox said. "I don't think anybody in our room is going to try to do anything special. We've just got to stick to what we've been doing all year and when we get an opportunity to get him on the ground, we've gotta get him on the ground."

--Field Level Media

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