Eagles defense faces ultimate Super Bowl test with Mahomes
PHOENIX, Feb 7 (Reuters) - A near-historic Philadelphia Eagles pass rush will face the ultimate test on Sunday in Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, an MVP favourite with no interest in ceding the Super Bowl spotlight.
The Eagles established themselves as a terrifying defensive force in the regular season, punishing opponents with an astonishing 70 sacks, two shy of the NFL record, while allowing the second-fewest yards per game.
But Mahomes is unlike any quarterback they faced in 2022.
"Mahomes is the guy that extends the plays and drops the dimes," defensive end Brandon Graham, who helped the Eagles to the Lombardi Trophy five years ago, told reporters on Tuesday.
"You've got to make sure you can hit him, get him on the ground, create turnovers, make him make bad throws."
At just 27-years-old Mahomes has already vaulted himself into the history books, joining future Hall of Famer Drew Brees this year as one of only two quarterbacks to throw for more than 5,000 yards and 40 or more touchdowns in multiple seasons.
Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick produced a career-best 16 sacks this season but had few answers when asked how the Eagles could contain Mahomes.
"When it comes to Patrick Mahomes, man, he's a tremendous talent," he told reporters this week.
"I don't know if you can contain him - I just don't know, he's that good. I won't lie, he is."
Not even injury appeared to hold back Mahomes in the postseason, when he played in the AFC title match against the Cincinnati Bengals just eight days after suffering a high ankle sprain in the Chiefs' divisional round win.
With the game tied and seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, he produced a heroic sprint that ultimately helped put kicker Harrison Butker within range.
"I know he was hurting - I know that. He's so mentally tough," head coach Andy Reid told reporters at the Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday. "That run that he made at the end, that was the fastest he's run all year."
Cornerback James Bradberry said that it would take everything in the Eagles arsenal to stop Mahomes from collecting his second Super Bowl ring.
"You just have to be aware of how dominant he can be. You want to make sure you can contain him, eliminate what he's able to do," he told reporters on Tuesday.
"You just want to make sure you put guys in his face. That's what our defensive line has been doing all year."
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