• Matthew Whiley

Match Report, Super Bowl LV: Kansas City Chiefs 9-31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes as he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a surprising win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.

It was Brady’s seventh Super Bowl victory on his tenth appearance in the showpiece, and he is now just the second quarterback to win a Lombardi Trophy with two teams, having won six with the New England Patriots.

Two first-half touchdown receptions from Rob Gronkowski and one from Antonio Brown, alongside a third-quarter score from running back Leonard Fournette, sealed an ultimately comfortable win.

The Chiefs’ much-lauded offense, led by their own superstar quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, failed to fire, and their only points came from the boot of Harrison Butker.

Much of the build-up to this encounter had been focused on the skill of each side’s respective man under centre, but in contrast to predictions, Mahomes found himself strangled by a rampant Tampa Bay defense.

Butker gave the Chiefs an early lead with a 49-yard field goal, but once Brady picked out his former Patriots teammate Gronkowski for a score from eight yards out, the Buccaneers never looked back.

Brady found Gronkowski again in the second quarter, this time from 17 yards, and although Butker added another field goal, the Buccaneers further extended their lead on the stroke of half time.

Aided by numerous penalties, Brady raced the Buccaneers downfield, picking up a total of 70 yards in 55 seconds, before picking out Brown, another ex-Patriot, from the one-yard line.

The Chiefs’ final points of the night arrived shortly after the half, as Butker made a 52-yard field goal, but Leonard Fournette’s 27-yard rush for the Buccaneers’ fourth score put the game to bed.

A struggling Mahomes was then intercepted twice as the Chiefs desperately tried to get their offense rolling, before a final 52-yard Buccaneers field goal from Ryan Succop late in the third quarter put gloss on the result.

This was a battle between experience and youth, and ultimately, it was the former that won the day, as elder statesman Brady triumphed over youngster Mahomes.

Buccaneers’ excellent evening on defense

The Buccaneers had become the first side ever to play in a Super Bowl in their own stadium, and they looked right at home all evening, especially on the defensive side.

For the first time in the three years that Mahomes has been the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, they scored no touchdowns, as Todd Bowles’ defense put in a hugely impressive showing.

He was often forced to throw while on the run, or improvise as the pocket collapsed, as the Buccaneers’ front seven, in particular Shaq Barrett and Ndamukong Suh, both of whom earned a sack, exerted huge pressure.

The Chiefs’ offensive line was not entirely to blame, as injuries have taken their toll on Mahomes’ protection, with both Pro Bowler left tackle Eric Fisher and All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz out.

Mahomes would still have been backed to evade that pressure more often than not, but the performance of linebacker Devin White, who sealed the game with a late interception, put paid to that idea too.

White restricted Mahomes’ passing options over the middle, and was a major factor in the Chiefs quarterback having to wait until the third quarter to reach 100 passing yards.

A mention must also go to rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr, who secured the first interception of the evening when he picked off Mahomes midway through the third quarter.

Bowles spent four years as head coach of the New York Jets, although he was dismissed and forced to drop back to the role of the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator after going 26-41 in that time.

However, his significant role in this victory may well have just pushed his name back into the minds of several owners who might be considering a change at the head coach position.

Ill-disciplined Chiefs pay the penalty

Despite that defensive performance, the Chiefs were also often the architects of their own downfall, as they gave away frequent penalties throughout the evening.

By half time, they had given away six penalties which led to first downs for the Buccaneers, already the most in Super Bowl history, and their infringements were as unnecessary as they were costly.

The first pair of major infringements came when Tyrann Mathieu was denied an interception due to Charvarius Ward being penalised for holding, before Antonio Hamilton lined up in the neutral zone when the Buccaneers were kicking a field goal five plays later.

Hamilton’s indiscretion made things far worse for the Chiefs, as instead of conceding three points, they had handed Brady an opportunity to make it at least six, and he naturally took full advantage to do just that.

The fact that yet another flag went down on that touchdown pass merely rubbed salt into Kansas City’s wounds, but having already collected the six points, the Buccaneers declined the penalty.

On their third touchdown drive at the end of the second quarter, the Buccaneers needed to fashion just 29 yards of their own making, as the Chiefs’ ill-discipline again cost them dear.

A huge 34 yard-penalty was given when Bashaud Breeland committed a pass interference infringement on Mike Evans, and their misery was compounded when Brady connected with Brown to pull the Buccaneers further out of sight.

Things improved slightly after half time, as they conceded just three more penalties, but the damage was long since done after a chaotic first two quarters.

Witnessing greatness, on both sides

Although his record means Brady is widely considered the greatest quarterback ever, whether he is currently the most talented in the league is the subject of more debate.

Mahomes’ ability to produce often-inexplicable plays, with his incredible arm strength combined with flashy no-look short throws, sees him touted as the man who does top that list, and as the heir to Brady’s throne.

This was the first Super Bowl between the previous two MVPs in the big game, with Brady having won the award after the Patriots’ victory in 2019, and Mahomes the holder, after the Chiefs triumphed last time out.

No player has won more championships than 43-year-old Brady, who now has seven to his name, more than any team has in total, and the only other current player to have at least four was also on the field last night.

That player is tight end Gronkowski, another figure who exhibits all-time great quality, and, with that first touchdown grab, he became the first player to catch a pass in five different Super Bowls.

Gronkowski scored twice last night, and he and Brady have now combined for a record 14 playoff touchdowns, overtaking legendary San Francisco 49ers pairing Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.

Brady has now become the first player to win Super Bowls in three different decades, and his entry to the Hall of Fame, when his time finally comes, is merely a formality.

Gronkowski is not far behind, and as long as Mahomes stays on his current career trajectory, he will be too.

No player ratings in this report, but, unsurprisingly, Tom Brady won the MVP award.


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