GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — 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.
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 grass at State Farm Stadium is on a giant tray that is rolled in and out of the retractable roof stadium. The field sits out in the Arizona sun on warm days and is brought back inside when it gets cold.
According to Oklahoma State University, the big game was played on Tahoma 31 bermudagrass that was produced by OSU.
Below is a statement from Oklahoma State University:
“As a land-grant university, our mission is to advance science and extend knowledge. The bermudagrass variety Tahoma 31 took over a decade to develop before its release in 2017. This and other similar varieties are known for their exceptional winter hardiness, spring green-up, turf density, improved water use efficiency and traffic damage recovery.
While OSU scientists developed and patented Tahoma 31, they had no role in creating or preparing the field for Super Bowl LVII.
Tahoma 31 was used for the base layer, but the field also was seeded with a top layer of ryegrass, which has slick leaf surfaces when damp. That and other factors may have contributed to traction issues during play.
Notably, the Philadelphia Eagles played on Tahoma 31 at Lincoln Financial Field during the 2022 season, including the NFC Championship game two weeks ago. Tahoma 31 is widely used at high-profile sites across the country, including the Arkansas Razorbacks’ stadium, which was recognized as the 2022 College Football Field of the Year by the Sports Field Management Association.”