Nearly a year ago, Tom Brady came to Tampa Bay to make history and help the Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV, becoming the first NFL team to host and win a world championship in its home stadium.
Mission accomplished – in more ways than one.
The Bucs defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Tampa to win the second Super Bowl in franchise history, while Brady won his NFL-record seventh Super Bowl. Brady also becomes the first quarterback in NFL history to lead a team from the AFC and the NFC to a Super Bowl championship.
The Bucs rattled off eight straight wins since losing to the Chiefs, 27-24, in Week 12, and got revenge in a big on Sunday.
Brady, who was named the Super Bowl MVP for a record fifth time, was sensational in the first half, completing 16-of-20 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns, including two to tight end Rob Gronkowski to build a 21-6 lead at halftime. Gronkowski had five catches for 42 yards and two TDs after two quarters, and finished with five catches for 67 yards.
Gronkowski now has 14 carer postseason touchdowns – all thrown by Brady – and the two have more scoring connections than any other QB-receiver duo.
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Brady would finish the game completing 21-of-29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
Brady out-dueled Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who was playing behind a make-shift offensive line due to the injury to left tackle Eric Fisher in the AFC Championship Game. Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles dialed up a healthy dose of Cover 2, which prevented Mahomes from making big plays downfield, as he did back in Week 12.
The fact that the high-powered Chiefs offense was held without a touchdown for the first time all season was the story of the game.
Mahomes was pressured all night and completed just 9-of-19 passes for 67 yards in the first half. In the second half, Mahomes was sacked by outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who had several pressures, along with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who had a solo sack and shared a sack with outside linebacker Cam Gill.
Mahomes threw two second half interceptions – first on a pass that was deflected by safety Mike Edwards and picked off by safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. and then on a pass that was deflected and intercepted by linebacker Devin White, who had a game-high 12 tackles, in the end zone on Mahomes’ final pass attempt.
Mahomes finished completing 26-of-49 passing for 270 yards with two interceptions, as Tampa Bay’s pass rush and coverage was smothering.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had 10 catches for 133 yards but was was held out of the end zone, while wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who had 269 yards and three touchdowns in Kansas City’s 27-24 win in Week 12, had a pedestrian night and was held to 73 yards on seven catches.
Bucs running back Leonard Fournette led the way for a punishing ground attack and rushed for 89 yards on 16 carries (5.6 avg.), including a 27-yard touchdown to increase Tampa Bay’s lead to 28-6. Ronald Jones II added 61 yards on 12 carries (5.0 avg.) to help the Bucs pound the Chiefs into submission.
Kansas City and Tampa Bay exchanged 52-yard field goals to make the score 31-9 heading into the fourth quarter, which was scoreless.
Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Tampa Bay ends the season 15-5, which is the second-best finish in franchise history behind the 2002 Super Bowl champion team, which finished 15-4. The Bucs also won eight consecutive games to finish the season, with their last loss coming back on November 29th to the Chiefs, 27-24.
Including its Super Bowl LV win, Tampa Bay finished the 2020 season with a 6-3 home record at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs could enter the 2021 season as the NFC favorites for Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, and will certainly be favorites to win the NFC South division as Brady and head coach Bruce Arians have said they intend to return next year.
The Bucs’ win in Super Bowl LV ends an incredible run over the past year of Tampa Bay area sports with the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup and the Rays making it to the World Series.
In its quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions, the Bucs will have several key personnel questions to address in the coming weeks as wide receivers Chris Godwin and Brown, Gronkowski, Barrett, Suh, kicker Ryan Succop, and running backs Fournette and LeSean McCoy among others are slated to become unrestricted free agents in March.
Tampa Bay’s 2021 NFL Draft position has been finalized, as the Bucs will have the 32nd overall pick in the first round.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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