The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the Super Bowl LV champions after completing an beyond expectations win and making all kinds of history Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. In their domination of Kansas City Chiefs 9-31, Bucs won their second Super Bowl and became the first team to win the Super Bowl at home. Midfielder Tom Brady won his seventh Lombardy Cup, more than any player in NFL history and one more than any full-fledged NFL franchise.
Brady’s performance at the age of 43 was nearly flawless, and the stifling pressure of Todd Bowles’ defense was the perfect compliment to the attacking effort. The future Pro Football Hall of Fame midfielder completed 21 of 29 passes at 201 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair to his longtime favorite goal in narrow end Rob Gronkowski and another to broadcaster Antonio Brown. He distributed the ball calmly to his staff from the pass-holders and was particularly successful in midfield. Brady and Groenk both now have 14 post-season point scoring connections in their legendary careers.
Bucs forced the leaders to perform the worst offensive performance of the Patrick Mahomes era as the defensive front of Tampa Bay completely dominated the melee streak during the four quarters. Mahomes had been under siege throughout the night, alternately launching the ball on the ground and forced to bend and dash away from the constant pressure. Mahomes took three sacks and threw two interceptions on inverted passes. Even those numbers underestimate the degree to which the Bukhs made their lives miserable. He finished the night with 270 yards, mostly garbage time, while he was held without landing for only the second time in 56 matches since he initially took over as KC in 2018. It was also his first two-figure loss for Mahomes’ career.
Tampa’s defensive appearances and midfielders deserve praise as well after bouncing back from a disastrous performance in Week 12 against the same Kansas City. After setting the Bucs on fire to 269 yards and three touchdowns in the first match, WR Tyreek Hill’s Bombs scored only seven grabs for 73 yards, creating a relatively light impact. Travis Kelce was a little more productive, but it just didn’t matter. Hill and rest of the pillars have been completely removed from the game.
Frustrations were noticeable on both sides of the ball for KC, who committed 10 penalty kicks for 100 yards in the game with multiple mistakes coming in key positions costing bosses on the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, Brady was lucky to have been well protected throughout the match, a testament to the offensive line the pirates built in front of him. That group also paved the way for Leonard Fortnite and Ronald Jones to merge 150 yards speeding on 28 carriers, including a 27-yard Fournette track that broke the match open forever in the third quarter.
In the end, the Bucs got the idea of what they could get with Brady on his head. Both sides imagined the living legend as the catalyst that would lead Tampa Bay to the championship, and it turns out they are both right. In the strangest NFL season ever, the greatest player in the league found a way to win it again.
Why did the pirates win
While Brady won a Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his career, Tampa Bay’s coordinators were adept.
Byron Leftwich’s attack plan was ingenious, and he had some fun on-screen designs and Red Zone plays. Bucs picked Kansas City players in cover and running game, time and time again taking Fournette to Level Two where he could work against smaller defenders. Meanwhile, Groenk, Furnett and Cameron Pratt met at 13 receptions for 139 yards – nearly two-thirds of Brady’s total.
If a full unit MVP can be awarded, the Tampa Bay Defensive Front deserves it. Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh and Steve McClendon gave an amazing performance, and they will have to share it with Bowles, who has consistently put them in a position to succeed. That group kept Mahomes trapped in a pocket and out of work most of the night. Presidents had to resort to many barriers and short passes designed to prevent the aisle rush from pinning their ears back on. Even those plays didn’t run well, and Mahomes kept getting beaten and had to run his entire life.
Why lost presidents
Sanctions, omissions and the offensive line. The Chiefs achieved 95 yards on penalties with eight fouls during the first half – a record in the Super Bowl. Hill dropped a possible landing. Kelsey shot down first. Daryl Williams shot down a fourth diversion. Mikul Hardman had at least two passes circling over his head because he wasn’t looking for it.
In fact, though, the story was that Mahomes did not have his usual time to either target his receivers or improvise without ever having to panic upon seeing the rush. With the interventions of Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz due to injuries, Mike Remers and Andrew Wiley were exhausted in the ocean as they simply couldn’t handle JPP and Barrett. With Wylie out of the outside, Stefen Wisniewski climbed into the starting line-up alongside Nick Allegretti and Austin Reiter in the middle, and that trio struggled with Vea and Suh for much of the night as well.
Just as the Packers’ attack streak was dominated by Bucs’ introduction to the NFC Championship game, so was the Chiefs’ attack streak in the Super Bowl.
Play the game
It should be the game’s first touchdown – a record also designed to perfection by Leftwich and Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians. Brady Pass the 8 yards to Groenk near the end of the first quarter was a thing of beauty.
It was the thirteenth touchdown that Brady and Groenk had contacted in qualifying, making them the most post-season pass duo in NFL history. (They added the 14th touchdown later in the first half.) It was also somehow the first touchdown pass in the first quarter of Brady’s career in the Super Bowl, which is unbelievable.
The determination for this play was flawless. It actually looked like something out of the Chiefs’ rulebook. Tampa Bay showed an RPO penchant for Mike Evans, which made the Breeland crowd bite inland. But the play was not designed to go to Evans. Groenk dropped out of the formation, exactly where Evans came from. Evans’ Tilted Road was a choice, preventing Daniel Sorenson from reaching Groenk abroad. All Brady had to do was turn it over to his grunge, and the big narrow end walked into the end zone for an easy score and another height.
Where the game turned out
Toward the end of the first half, it looked as if the Chiefs might be back in the game. After 14-3, they scored the ball on the court, traveling 61 yards in 10 games before stopping into the red. While the field goal was a disappointing result, it narrowed the gap to 14-6, and with the two leaders getting the ball in the second half, they seemed to be in good shape.
But then Brady and Bucks went to work. Crucially, the Chiefs called out with the third and 2 Bucs confronting with only 44 seconds remaining in the first half to see Tampa Bay transform into the next play. Subsequently, the Kansas City defensive full-back committed two pass-through penalties for Mike Evans’ throws (the second was a controversial call), causing Bucs to advance with the first and goal from the 1-yard line. That’s when Brady finds Brown working against Terran Matthew, and the pair is connected to Brady’s third game throw. Suddenly it was 21-6, and the Bucs family never looked back.