Andy Reid’s playcalling, full-circle moments propel Chiefs to Super Bowl LVII victory

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid takes questions from the media following the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII 38-35 victory. (Tristan Tucker/MEDILL)

By Tristan Tucker
Medill Reports

GLENDALE, Ariz. — For the Kansas City Chiefs, winning Super Bowl LVII didn’t come down to a last-second penalty; the real difference-maker was head coach Andy Reid. 

In many ways, Reid’s coaching master class signaled a full-circle moment for the 24-year NFL head coach. Reid, the all-time wins leader for the Philadelphia Eagles, took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2005. In Super Bowl XXXIX, then-45-year-old Reid’s Eagles lost a three-point game to championship veteran Bill Belichick.

At the end of each half of Super Bowl XXXIX, Reid’s clock mismanagement seemingly cost the Eagles down the stretch. This time, Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s smart decision to get running back Jerick McKinnon to down the ball before scoring allowed the Chiefs to run down the clock and ultimately set up a game-winning field goal.

“We work on that stuff every single week to prepare ourselves for those moments,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “And I want to give a credit to Eric Bieniemy because even though sometimes we get tired of listening to him talk about those moments, they always seem to happen in the biggest games, and he makes sure we go over the details every single week.”

Both Reid’s 2005 Eagles and 41-year-old Nick Sirianni’s 2023 Eagles led their Super Bowl opponents in first downs, third-down conversions and total yards. Despite that, both versions of the team fell to the more experienced, battle-hardened coach by the slimmest of margins. This time around, Reid was on the other side of history, and he now joins Belichick as one of 13 coaches to win multiple Super Bowls.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” Reid said. ”I’ve had a lot of great players that have helped me get to the spot and great coaches. I respect the game though. I respect all those guys and the jobs that they’ve done, and if I’m mentioned with them, I’ll have to think about that one for a while.”

Reid’s coaching performance didn’t come in just the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. Engineering a 10-point second-half comeback, Reid called one of the smartest games of his career.

For most of the season, unstoppable was the only way to describe the Eagles’ defense. But on Mahomes’ first touchdown pass, Reid called a motion play out of stack alignment, causing tight end Travis Kelce to get wide open for an easy score. 

Recognizing the hole on Philadelphia’s defense, Reid exploited it again and then once more.

Reid’s most brilliant play call of the game, and the one that gave the Chiefs their first lead of the game a little under three minutes of the fourth quarter, was designed for midseason acquisition Kadarius Toney. Toney faked a ghost motion, a play intended to lull defenses into thinking an end-around is coming, then pivoted quickly backward, resulting in him faking out corner Avonte Maddox and getting an easy score to go up 28-27.

“(The coaches) spend hours and hours drawing up plays just for it to be that open,” Toney said. “Every play is meant to be open, but it’s all about going out there and executing. We just went out there and executed.”

Three minutes later, Reid and the offensive coaching staff once again got the Eagles to overcommit to a blitz and, off a similar formation as Toney’s and Kelce’s touchdowns, got an easy ball to rookie Skyy Moore to cushion Kansas City’s lead.

According to Reid, that was the game plan he sent to his coordinators, which was executed to perfection.

“We saw something a little different on tape, and we knew we could take advantage of what they weren’t doing,” Bieniemy said. “Obviously, it starts with our head man. Our guys study hard, we prepare, and as a staff we do a great job of over-communicating, and it’s not about any egos.”

Every single offensive player who spoke after the game mentioned having a coach like Reid made them want to follow him to the ends of the earth.

“To have someone that is such a great person who gets the best out of the players and to become men and players, you wanted to do that, you wanted to win those Super Bowls for him,” Mahomes said. “It’s great that we did that, and like you said, we’re not done. I am going to have him around for a little while longer at least.”

Though Reid took Super Bowl LVII away from Philly, Eagles fans partially have him to thank for the city’s one and only Super Bowl win. It was Doug Pederson, a disciple of Reid’s in Kansas City and Philadelphia, who led the Eagles to their Super Bowl LII victory, utilizing tactics Reid showcased Sunday.

Reid’s offensive ingenuity, something he developed from his mistakes in Philadelphia, propelled Kansas City to the top of the league and launched him into the record books once more.

“His legacy in Philadelphia will live on forever,” Kelce said. “I know that city loves him, I love that organization loves him. Ever since he’s been here in Kansas City, I’ve seen it firsthand, he’s poured his heart, his mind and his soul into this organization and to this team and lead a group of men. You can call it what you want, that didn’t happen in Philly. That happened right in here in Kansas City.”

Tristan Tucker is a sports media graduate student at Medill. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.