It was the morning of February 12th, 2023, Super Bowl LVII Sunday.
As the Eagles anxiously awaited to play the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs later that day, Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon awaited a head coaching interview he had scheduled with the Arizona Cardinals for the next day.

With the interview looming in the back of his head, Gannon did not have the time to prepare his defense to play the offensively explosive Kansas City Chiefs led by Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.

In many instances, the Eagles’ defense looked unprepared. And they were. As the Eagles’ offense rolled, putting up 35 points on the Chiefs’ defense, Gannon’s defense gave up 38 points to Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense. Even worse, the Eagles’ defense failed to force a single turnover all game.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Eagles led the Chiefs 27-21. Shortly after the fourth quarter began, with 12:04 left in the game, Mahomes threw a five-yard touchdown to a wide-open Kadarius Toney. No Eagles’ remained on the far right side of the field to keep Toney out of the endzone, let alone contest Mahomes’ pass. After Harrison Butker nailed the extra point, the Chiefs took a 28-27 lead over the Birds. 

Less than two minutes later, the Eagles went three-and-out and were forced to punt. Toney was back to return Siposs’ punt, a punt Toney ran back 65 yards down to the Eagles’ 5-yard line. It took Kansas City three plays to score another touchdown, their second in a span of just under 3 minutes. This time, Mahomes threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Skyy Moore, the Chiefs’ 2022 second-round draft pick out of Western Michigan. The Eagles’ defense once again looked unprepared. Gannon got fooled twice by the same exact play, this time on the left side of the field, which was left entirely open, as Moore walked in for an easy touchdown. Soon after, Butker once again knocked the extra point straight through the uprights to make the score 35-27 Chiefs.

Though the Eagles tied up the score at 35 nearly four minutes later, they left 5:15 on the clock for Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. The Eagles’ defense struggled all night long, and they played no different on the Chiefs’ final, game-winning drive. Mahomes and the Chiefs wound down the clock as the Eagles were forced to burn their remaining timeouts. Butker knocked through his first field goal of the night, his biggest of the season, as it put the Chiefs up 38-35 with 0:08 remaining, leaving Hurts and the Eagles’ offense one last chance to heave up a miracle. After the kickoff from Butker, 2 more seconds were shaved off the clock. With 6 seconds remaining, Hurts threw up one last pass, a Hail Mary that fell incomplete. But Hurts and the Eagles’ offense were least to blame for this loss on football’s biggest stage.

The Eagles controlled the ball for 35:47 of the game, while the Chiefs held onto the ball for 24:13.

According to NBC Sports, “Hurts had one of the great statistical performances in Super Bowl history.”

Hurts ran for 70 yards on 15 carries while throwing for 304 more yards and accounting for 3 total touchdowns. Hurts did make a crucial mistake, though, resulting in a Chiefs’ Nick Bolton scoop and score in the first half of the second quarter. But Hurts was far from what lost the Eagles’ game. He put up 35 points, played spectacularly, and just happened to make one big mistake.

Jonathan Gannon and the Eagles’ defense, on the other hand, looked flatfooted and unprepared throughout the game. The reason? Well, Gannon was more focused on the interview he had lined up for the vacant Cardinals’ head coaching job the next day. 

Immediately after the Eagles lost Super Bowl LVII to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, Gannon headed to Arizona for his interview. The problem? Gannon and the Cardinals violated the NFL’s anti-tampering policy. Cardinals’ General Manager, Monti Ossenfort, gave Gannon a call immediately after the Eagles’ NFC Championship win against the 49ers.

Now what did Ossenfort ask of Gannon?

He asked him if he would consider interviewing with the Cardinals’ organization regarding their head coaching vacancy “if their coaching search extended past the Super Bowl,” according to  

On May 2nd, Gannon, the new Cardinals’ head coach, apologized for his violation of the NFL’s anti-tampering policy:

“It’s a mistake that we made, and the league rectified it, and we’ve moved on.”

The Eagles were compensated for this mistake, trading third-round draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft with the Cardinals. In addition, Philadelphia will give its 2024 fifth-round pick to Arizona.

Sure, the Eagles were “compensated,” but take your pick: winning a Super Bowl with a properly prepared defense or swapping some draft picks around in exchange for a Vince Lombardi trophy?

The answer is pretty obvious, and shame on Gannon and Ossenfort for keeping the Birds from winning their second Super Bowl in franchise history.
Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Philly can win it all this year…

Photo: Chris Coduto/Getty Images

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