It’s time for PewterReport.com’s 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game. Tampa Bay won its second Super Bowl championship by beating the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV in the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium. Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes and was named the Super Bowl MVP as he out-dueled Patrick Mahomes, who was sacked three times, threw two picks and was under duress the entire night from Todd Bowles’ menacing defense.
Table of Contents
2 BIG STATEMENTS
STATEMENT 1. Greatest Bucs Win By The Greatest Bucs Team
Out of the way, Jon Gruden.
Move over, Derrick Brooks.
Step aside, Mike Alstott.
This 2020 Super Bowl champion Buccaneers team is the greatest team in Tampa Bay history.
This in no way belittles or demeans the amazing accomplishment of the 2002 Bucs team winning Super Bowl XXXVII, which forever has the distinction of being the first Tampa Bay team to become world champions. But it’s time to reorder the rankings given the magnitude of what this year’s team accomplished in becoming the first team to host – and win – a Super Bowl in its home stadium. And to do so in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic no less.
The Tom Brady-led Bucs defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, in an epic Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium that proves that defense can still win championships.
So why is this 2020 Tampa Bay team better than the original Super Bowl squad from 2002 that featured three (or more) future Hall of Famers on defense? Because Brady and the Bucs had to travel for three weeks to get back home for the Super Bowl as a wild card team, and had to beat the likes of New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes to dethrone the defending champs and win the Super Bowl.
In 2002, the road was easier for Tampa Bay, as that Bucs team trounced three lesser QBs in San Francisco’s Jeff Garcia, Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb and Oakland’s Rich Gannon, and only had two the last two games away on the road. While Gannon was the league’s MVP that season, Rodgers was the MVP this year, and Mahomes was last year’s Super Bowl MVP. McNabb, Garcia and Gannon were good quarterbacks, but they weren’t in the elite, Hall of Fame class that Brees, Rodgers or Mahomes are.
While Super Bowl LV didn’t feature five interceptions, including three pick-sixes like the 2002 Bucs team turned in, the performance put on by Todd Bowles’ unit was just as impressive in its own way, harassing Mahomes all night and keeping the high-powered Kansas City offense out of the end zone. In his young, fabled, four-year career, Mahomes had never started a game for the Chiefs where the offense didn’t score a touchdown.
Tampa Bay’s pass rush took advantage of an injury-riddled, makeshift offensive line in Kansas City and made Mahomes run for his life practically all night, sacking him three times. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh led the way with 1.5 sacks, while outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett had one sack and a game-high four pressures.
The Bucs’ Grave Diggers secondary was clutch, holding Mahomes under 300 yards passing and keeping Tyreek Hill out of the end zone. Mahomes threw for over 450 yards in the Week 12 meeting, with Hill having 269 yards receiving and three touchdowns in a game that would turn out to be the last Tampa Bay loss of the 2020 season.
Rookie safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. had the first interception of the night off a deflected pass that was tipped by fellow safety Mike Edwards. It was one of nine pass breakups by Tampa Bay’s sticky secondary, which didn’t give up the big play because of Bowles’ smart deployment of Cover 2 and Cover 4 rather than his usual heavy dose of Cover 1 or Cover 3. Bowles only blitzed Mahomes four times on the night because he didn’t have to. Tampa Bay’s front four provided plenty of pass rush, hitting Mahomes a total of eight times.
Winfield made sure to let Hill know that the Bucs secondary dug his grave late in the game, flashing a peace sign right in his face, which drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Hill often throws up a peace sign to opposing defensive backs on the way to the end zone, but the tables were turned in Super Bowl LV.
While the 2002 Buccaneers had their ghosts to vanquish in Philadelphia by finally beating the Eagles and shutting down the Vet, which had been their house of horrors in the early 2000s, this 2020 Tampa Bay team had its own psychological hurdle to face. After five straight losses, including four during Bruce Arians’ brief tenure with the team, the Bucs went to New Orleans and finally beat the bully, 30-20 in the divisional round of the 2020 playoffs. It was a remarkably similar feel to what Tampa Bay did in Philly 18 years ago.
This 2020 Bucs team has its own share of future Hall of Famers, but perhaps not on the defensive side. Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Mike Evans, who was held to just one catch for 31 yards but drew a couple of big pass interference penalties by the Chiefs, are destined for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, showing that this year’s Super Bowl squad is led by an offense that averaged over 30 points per game. That’s the most in Tampa Bay history.
Brady, the greatest QB of all time and the most winning player in NFL history, is the most storied player to ever wear the red and pewter – even if it’s only in his first season with the Bucs. Super Bowl XXXVIII QB Brad Johnson has his place in Bucs lore, but he’s no Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl title and his fifth Super Bowl MVP on the night by throwing three first half touchdowns to help build a 21-6 lead that would never be threatened thanks to a dominating performance by Tampa Bay’s defense.
It was truly complimentary football at its finest during Super Bowl LV. Just like it was back in 2002 in Super Bowl XXXVII when Gruden’s offense scored 27 of the Bucs’ 48 points that day, which would have been enough to beat Oakland without any of the Bucs’ three defensive touchdowns.
Only better this time around for Tampa Bay with the GOAT leading the way.
STATEMENT 2. Every Point Scored Was From A Bucs Newcomer
Bucs general manager Jason Licht deserves a tremendous amount of credit for assembling this year’s Super Bowl LV championship team, as it was littered with plenty of homegrown talent with the likes of wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, offensive linemen Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Alex Cappa and Tristan Wirfs, running back Ronald Jones II, nose tackle Vita Vea, linebacker Devin White and the Bucs’ entire Grave Diggers secondary. But it was the newcomers to Tampa Bay this year that stole the show in Super Bowl LV.
In fact, every point that was scored by the Bucs in their Super Bowl win came from a player that wasn’t on Tampa Bay’s 7-9 team from a year ago. Quarterback Tom Brady, who was Licht’s free agent prize this offseason, threw for three touchdowns, including two TD passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was acquired in a trade with New England for a fourth-round pick, in the first half.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown had a more productive night than Chris Godwin, who had just nine yards on two receptions. Brown, was a midseason addition and had five catches for 22 yards, including a 16-yarder in the first half. But it was his 1-yard touchdown catch on a slant from Brady with just six seconds left before halftime that proved to be the most critical. That scoring strike between Brady and Brown, who scored his second TD in the postseason for Tampa Bay, gave the Bucs a 21-6 lead at halftime and all of the game’s momentum.