It didn't take long for the Buccaneers to prove who wanted to win this game more as Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl title.
The Chiefs struck first on a 49 yard field goal from Harrison Butker to go up 3-0 early in the first quarter. But the Buccaneers came back on the very next drive, gaining 75 yards on eight plays, and we saw Tom Brady connect with Rob Gronkowski for the first of two scores on the day. Tampa never let their foot off the pedal after that scoring drive, and they never relinquished the lead from that point on. The Bucs went on to easily win Super Bowl LV 31-9.
Rob Gronkowski now has at least one reception in 5 Super Bowls, which is the most in #NFL history https://t.co/16YVjf4EKC— NFL Stats (@NFL Stats) 1612743772.0
The dream matchup between Brady and Mahomes ended up being a bit of a letdown, but don't put this all on the Chiefs' quarterback. Don't forget that they entered the Super Bowl fresh off losing starting left tackle, Eric Fisher, to a season-ending injury in the AFC Championship game against Buffalo. It could have been the final blow to an offensive line unit that was already without most of its starters most of the season.
Jason Alexander hoodie playing behind the Chiefs offensive line https://t.co/qwOWAt9RHD— Korked Bats (@Korked Bats) 1612746294.0
The Bucs defense shouldn't be overlooked, as they stifled one of the most prolific offensive units the league has ever seen. Tyreek Hill was held to just two catches for 13 yards until he caught his third pass with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
Tyreek Hill gave Antoine Winfield Jr. the peace sign in the regular season 👀 Winfield got the last laugh.… https://t.co/8XfJnL8lc7— Bleacher Report (@Bleacher Report) 1612753385.0
Although we should credit the work Todd Bowles' defense did in coverage, it was their pass rush that suffocated Mahomes throughout the game forcing him to constantly be running for his life outside the pocket and taking frequent visits to the turf.
How about that Bucs defense, though? https://t.co/334qyLKfb4— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Tampa Bay Buccaneers) 1612751602.0
The combination of Jason Pierre-Paul, Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, Steve McClendon, and Shaq Barrett was too much for the Chiefs' makeshift line to handle, and they sacked Mahomes three times during the game.
Penalties also played a huge role in preventing the Chiefs from getting back into contention. They accumulated eight penalties for 95 yards in the first half, which is now the the record for most in Super Bowl history. Kansas City finished the game with 11 penalties costing them 120 yards.
The Chiefs committed eight penalties in the first half. The MOST in a first half in Super Bowl history 😮 https://t.co/FPG2EcitUn— Sports Illustrated (@Sports Illustrated) 1612748332.0
On the other side, it was quite a different story. Brady felt in complete control from start to finish. The experience that he has in these big moments was evident from the moment that the Chiefs took the early lead.
Tampa was able to control the entire pace of the game by winning in the trenches on both the offensive and defensive ends. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II benefitted from their offensive line opening up big running lanes all night as they both averaged above five yards per carry. Fournette finished with 89 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown, and Jones had 61 yards on 12 carries.
Never to be outdone in a Super Bowl with his best bud TB12, Rob Gronkowski shocked the world by contributing two touchdowns on six receptions and gaining 67 yards through the air. In an offense that features Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown, very few could have expected Gronk to lead the team in receiving. Especially since it was just a year ago that he was hosting Wrestlemania during his short lived retirement.
IT’S OFFICIAL! GRONK IS THE GREATEST 24/7 CHAMP OF ALL TIME! @RobGronkowski @WWE https://t.co/2GT7PYhsw4— Mick Foley (@Mick Foley) 1612754088.0
It was only the second time in Mahomes' professional career that he's been held without a touchdown in a game. Maybe even more unbelievable is the fact that this is the first double-digit loss in Mahomes' pro career. Even though we didn't get the shootout we were hoping for, we at least got reassurance that Patrick Mahomes is human. He finished 26/49 for 270 yards and two interceptions. If you just saw the box score, you'd probably think it was a typo.
Pat Mahomes trying to find an open receiver https://t.co/THDsZwwO1P— Complex Sports (@Complex Sports) 1612750030.0
For Tom Brady, however, it was just another day at the office. Capping off another improbable year standing on a stage with confetti falling all around him while thanking his teammates and holding the Lombardi trophy. The 43-year-old quickly responded to whether he'll be back next season and said that both he and the Bucs plan to be back here next year. Judging by Tampa and Brady's performance in Super Bowl LV, they just may prove him right.
"I'm coming back." - @TomBrady #SBLV | @Buccaneers https://t.co/P7gl5xMf76— NFL (@NFL) 1612755178.0
No matter what the future holds for Tom Brady by winning his seventh Super Bowl, he becomes not only the winningest player in league history but has more championship wins than the two organizations with the most championship wins (those being the Pittsburgh Steelers and Brady's former team, the New England Patriots, with whom Brady won the first six of his championships).
At this point there really isn't a reason to hate Tom Brady anymore. It's rare that an athlete can separate him or herself so far from the rest of the competition and do it for so long. Even if you rooted against Tom Brady because he beat your team every time he played them, by now he's done it to everyone's team.
Although Brady seemingly intends to play until he's 50, the truth is eventually he won't be able to lead a team to a Super Bowl anymore. That will certainly make a lot of people rejoice, but for now we should really appreciate the fact that we've gotten to watch one of the best athletes in history be the definition of consistency and excellence for two decades. And he ain't done yet.