GLENDALE, Ariz. — The field at State Farm Stadium turned into a Super Bowl slip and slide.
With the surface seeming to get worse as the night wore on, players from both teams had a hard time keeping their footing on Sunday, leading several to change their cleats during a game that ended with the Kansas City Chiefs’ dramatic 38-35 comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It was like playing on a water park,” Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata said.
“I’m not going to lie, it was the worst field that I’ve ever played on,” linebacker Haason Reddick added, Philadelphia failing to sack the injured Patrick Mahomes once in the game. “It was very disappointing. It’s the NFL. You would think it would be better so we could get some better play, but it is what it is. I don’t know, maybe the league will look at it and tell Arizona they got to step their stuff up.”
State Farm Stadium has a history of slippery fields.
Players complained about field conditions at the BCS National Championship between Oregon and Auburn in 2010. Same thing in the College Football Playoff title game between Alabama and Clemson in 2015. The Fiesta Bowl has had its share of grassy slipups as well.
The Super Bowl was no different — even after the NFL spent nearly two years preparing the field.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes slipped while trying to make a cut, but was able to gain a few more yards. Kansas City receiver Skyy Moore lost his footing on a jet sweep and running back Isiah Pacheco even slipped during his celebration after scoring a touchdown.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and tight end Dallas Goedert were among the players who changed cleats to get better traction.
“I changed my cleats and right before the second half wore the different ones,” Goedert said. “The second half, you know, the field was tearing up a little bit but, you know, once again, we’re playing on the same field as the Chiefs.”
It’s not the first time this season Kansas City has had footing problems at State Farm Stadium.
In their season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, the Chiefs had all kinds of trouble with the playing surface.
First-round pick Trent McDuffie, who had earned a starting job, injured his hamstring when he slipped and end up on injured reserve.
Kicker Harrison Butker also got injured when his plant foot slipped on a kickoff, forcing him to miss games and ultimately change his entire approach to kicking for the remainder of the season.
It happened again in the Super Bowl, though both teams felt the slippage.
“It’s not like we were playing on the on ice and they were playing on grass,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “We all had to play on it, we all have to figure out our shoes.”
The NFL spent nearly two years preparing the field for the Super Bowl, the sod grown at a Phoenix farm. It was installed two weeks ago and put outside each day for sunshine. (The grass at State Farm Stadium is on a giant tray that is rolled in and out of the retractable roof stadium.) It cost $800,000 to prepare, according to George Toma, the 94-year-old groundskeeper who has prepared the field for all 57 Super Bowls.
“I believe this is the second best grass we’ve had,” Toma said during Super Bowl week, ranking only the field for the rainy Colts-Bears Super Bowl in 2007 higher. “You have to have a good root system, and this field is very tight.”