Super Bowl LV Recap: A Buccaneer Massacre
Going into Super Bowl LV, everybody thought it would be one of the great all-time matchups due to the quarterbacks taking the stage — instead it was just a beating.
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers controlled Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for pretty much the whole game, stunning the defending champs and denying a repeat, 31–9.
This game was simply won by the trenches. On offense, Brady was his normal self, throwing for an efficient 21-of-29 passing for 209 yards and three touchdowns, winning his incredible seventh Super Bowl and fifth MVP all the while having an easy time against this Chiefs defense with no pass rush. (It was probably his easiest Super Bowl to win and certainly was his biggest point spread. The most he’s ever won by is ten and the most to lose by is eight in those nine appearances.)
The defensive side of the ball is what was most surprising and the worst it could have been for Mahomes and his high-powered offense. The defending Super Bowl MVP was running for his life the whole night as both of Kansas City’s starting tackles were out to which Tampa’s pass rush took full advantage of.
Both teams had slow starts offensively, trading punts with Tampa having two, which is common in the big game. After a KC field goal, thanks to Mahomes having to use his legs, Brady’s team marched downfield in cruise control for this easy touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, breaking the record for most TD passes for a tandem in the postseason with 13. (This was also Brady’s first touchdown pass in the first quarter of a Super Bowl even though he had already been to nine.)
After a Chiefs three-and-out, the Bucs went with ease towards the end zone again, but the defending champs had an impressive goal-line stand in spite of a dumb unnecessary roughness penalty by Chris Jones that sparked it, keeping it a 7–3 game. But then Kansas City had another punt as Mahomes was a disastrous 3-of-12 for just 23 yards through their first four drives.
Tampa drove down the field again, catching a break from an interception by Tyrann Mathieu that was negated by defensive holding, as Brady threw another TD pass to Gronk (going to 14) on a nice route, making it 14–3. Mahomes responded with a better drive but still only ended up with three points.
With just 1:01 left before the half, the Bucs’ offense struck again, capitalizing on two defensive pass interferences that were somewhat questionable as Brady threw for another TD, this time to Antonio Brown from a yard out on another well-run route. This gave Tampa another commanding lead at halftime due to a late touchdown and point total to 21 as they did in the NFC Championship Game.
With the Chiefs winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half (pretty much the only thing they won), people knew if there was anyone who could bring his team back it was Mahomes — but they ended up again with just another Harrison Butker field goal, cutting the lead to 21–9. (Maybe he was their best player.)
The dream of being in the Super Bowl turning into a nightmare continued for the Chiefs as Tampa stormed down the field for another touchdown, this time on a Leonard Fournette run from 27 yards.
After an interception by Antoine Winfield turned into three points for Tampa, the Chiefs never scored again despite getting in range on their last three drives. Devin White had the final interception before Brady got in another victory formation for a Lombardi Trophy.
I didn’t enjoy the game as much as I was hoping for because of my prediction and fandom for Mahomes as a fellow Texas Tech alum, but man, this really wasn’t that fun to watch as many were hoping for with these legendary, generational QBs, who have been great every time they’ve met. The young gunslinger finished 26-of-49 for 270 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns for a team that never reached the end zone, which never happens in this high-scoring squad. It’s the first time the Chiefs haven’t scored a touchdown in a game with him and it’s the first time he lost by double digits since back in college in 2016 when his team was trampled by Iowa State, 66–10. (This game reminded us alums of how he had no defense and would also have to make magic happen with his feet.)
As a fan, you’re just glad Mahomes got off the field alive after the beating he took, a majority of which came late, and boy, did he have some plays where he miraculously got a pass off that would have been spectacular catches. According to NextGen stats, he ran for a crazy 497 yards before throwing his passes. This was the first time you really saw him without any protection as this offensive line is pretty good when at full strength.
But the Bucs really dominated this game in all ways, much like they did in their only other Super Bowl appearance back in 2002, getting those late picks. KC’s speedy receivers never got open deep as Tampa kept both safeties back the whole game, much like the old Tampa 2. Tyreek Hill, the most explosive of the bunch, was being double-teamed all night and had seven receptions for 73 yards, which looks better than it actually was. And it took their monster tight end, Travis Kelce, a while to get going even though ten receptions for 133 yards looks nice. You have to give some of that MVP award to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for the job he and his unit did against this offense.
On offense, it was about as easy as it gets for Brady and Co. The G.O.A.T. simply never had pressure and didn’t throw any downfield passes, which he’s done at record pace this year, until late. They had balance, which I mentioned they’ve gained during this postseason despite their low attempts in-season, rushing for 145 yards, 89 of those going to Fournette. They were more disciplined, committing just four penalties while KC had 11. Tampa also scored 31 points in three of their postseason games with the other being 30.
They also were out-coached. Despite how competitive and good you have to be in the NFL, lots of games are already won going in with preparation. Bruce Arians, who became the oldest coach to ever win a Super Bowl at 68, deserved to win this one, especially with how close he’s been and the time it took for him to get a head coaching job. Bowles is an excellent defensive coordinator who somehow got just one phone call for a head coaching position after a magnificent postseason, slowing down legendary QBs in Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Mahomes, all of whom Brady outdueled.
Don’t get me wrong, Andy Reid is a great head coach and offensive genius, who, like Arians, deserved to win that Lombardi last season, but he didn’t look great. His team sounded confident after a great week of practice but looked nothing like it. He also was dealing with a trial off-the-field in the last couple of days as his son, Britt, an outside linebackers coach on his staff, was involved in an accident late Thursday night that left a 5-year-old girl in the one of the three cars in critical condition. He was believed to be drinking. No one’s mentioning it, but he lost his oldest son, Garrett, to an overdose back in 2012 during training camp, so he’s dealt with this stuff before in-season. You can’t always tell if it affected his coaching, but when things like that happen, it usually doesn’t go well for the team playing.
To prove my point once again even though my wife thinks it’s blasphemous, Tom Brady…..is GOD. It is simply insane what he’s done in his career, especially in his twilight years. He has more Super Bowls than any franchise. His former team, the New England Patriots, and the Pittsburgh Steelers both have six. This is his fourth Super Bowl to win in the last seven years after somehow going without one for a decade, getting it done at the age of 43. All the while changing conferences to a team that hasn’t even been to the playoffs in 13 years without a real offseason.
If there was ever a Super Bowl I regretted picking who wins, it’s this one. I already knew that Brady had been winning one every two years and was on pace if accomplished. No one ever repeats anymore as champs unless it’s Brady, ironically, back in 2003–04. The Chiefs had both tackles out, which was a problem considering they had Pro Bowl-caliber pass rushers in Jean Pierre-Paul and Shaquill Barrett coming after Mahomes. They had to navigate around their barber getting COVID and Reid’s son. Terrific Tom was beating a chain of Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks. Tampa was playing in their home stadium, which had never happened before, and actually felt kind of loud considering how many Bucs fans were probably there considering COVID size and those without ties.
Every team that has made the Super Bowl in the last 20 years completely on the road in their conference wins. And really, it was their time. So many players and coaches with great careers hadn’t won like Brown and Ndamukong Suh. Heck, even Brady texted his teammates before the game saying, “We will win.” (I’ve now been wrong in six of my last eight Super Bowls and am 7–10 overall but was 9–4 in the postseason.)
If you’re the Chiefs, this one hurts in an unexpected way, but at the end of the day, you have the greatest quarterback for another ten years, so you’ll more than likely win several. Hopefully, they can get that line figured out and get several back from injury and opt-outs.
As much of a bummer as it was to see Mahomes and the team I’ve stuck to picking since before the season lose and not get the great QB showdown we were expecting, you have to appreciate greatness. (Super Bowl blowouts always feel lame. This was the biggest point margin and blowout, for that matter, since 2013 when Seattle stomped Denver, 43–8.) It wasn’t the Patriots, so you can’t be that mad as an average fan about Brady winning again. The Bucs typically are losers and now their city has just won a Stanley Cup (Lightning), World Series appearance (Rays), and now a Super Bowl all within a pandemic year. I guess it had to happen since it was 2020. It was only their second Lombardi trophy, and you have to appreciate Brady’s humility in taking pay cuts and credit away from him.
I’m glad the NFL got through their season on time even though it wasn’t always pretty, but man do I miss seeing and hearing fans. It just wasn’t the same. Maybe next year we’ll see more. We should be thankful for them and getting to watch sports because it sure does get you away from the reality of life at times. (And now we go into the valley of no football. Sports just aren’t the same without it.)