On a night where Patrick Mahomes was favored to become the youngest quarterback to ever win multiple Super Bowls and his Kansas City Chiefs were favored to become the NFL‘s first repeat champions in nearly two decades, the league’s greatest QB of all time stole the spotlight once again.
Tom Brady, making his 10th Super Bowl appearance and first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was virtually flawless at Raymond James Stadium as the Bucs rolled over the defending champs 31-9. Dominant on defense and opportunistic with the ball in their hands, the Buccaneers had little trouble claiming their first Lombardi Trophy since 2002, the franchise’s second overall.
Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for his efforts, and, unsurprisingly to anyone paying attention, he announced that this would not be his final game. Bucs coach Bruce Arians, 68, also said he’s returning. “We’re coming back,” Brady said on the CBS Sports broadcast. “Yeah, we’re coming back.”
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Neither the Bucs nor Chiefs exploded out of the gate, with Mahomes struggling to connect with wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman early on and Brady feeling early pressure from Chiefs pass rusher Frank Clark. Mahomes often opted to use his legs early on, leading only a field goal drive in the first 15 minutes. Brady, meanwhile, gained momentum later in the first quarter after some hard-nosed running from Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, putting the Bucs up 7-3 thanks to an easy touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, the 13th career postseason scoring connection between the two.
Kansas City fired back at the start of the second quarter with a feisty goal-line stand against Tampa Bay, which saw third- and fourth-and-goal runs stuffed up the middle. But then everything flipped in the Bucs’ favor, in part due to a pair of costly penalties on the Chiefs’ defense. First, an iffy holding call on Kansas City’s Charvarius Ward wiped out an interception by fellow defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, and then an offsides on a Ryan Succop field goal try set up Brady’s second TD to Gronkowski, a wide-open bullet to put Tampa up 14-3.
Later in the quarter, Ward was flagged again, this time for pass interference, and Brady capitalized on the short field by finding Antonio Brown for his third TD of the night, giving the underdogs a 21-6 edge at the break.
Early in the second half, the Buccaneers continued firing on all cylinders, with Tampa Bay’s rangy linebackers blanketing the Chiefs’ passing attack and Mahomes running for his life behind a depleted offensive line. Brady kept firing to Gronkowski for easy first downs, and Fournette burst through a gaping Chiefs secondary for his own TD to go up 28-9. Mahomes, meanwhile, got picked off for the first time while chucking it up out of desperation, with Bucs rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. coming down with the takeaway.
Not even one of Tampa’s most errant plays, a bad snap that went over Brady’s head, could prevent another scoring drive by the home team, with Ryan Succop padding the Bucs’ lead on a 52-yard field goal. By the fourth quarter, Mahomes and the Chiefs were simply flailing, airing out helpless deep balls without much cohesion en route to their first double-digit loss of Mahomes’ career.
PERFORMANCES OF NOTE
Grammy-nominated artists Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan put a jazzy, theatrical touch on “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of Super Bowl LV, just before a special recitation by young poet Amanda Gorman, who paid tribute to those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the medical field. Grammy award-winning artist H.E.R. also appeared during pre-game festivities to sing “America the Beautiful.”
At halftime, Grammy-winning pop artist The Weeknd unleashed a barrage of radio hits in front of an accompanying choir, then hit the actual field for some strutting, dancing and more pop tunes amid an army of backup dancers. Those dancers rocked bandage masks for the climactic number in an effort to highlight “superficial celebrity culture.”
• Super Bowl LV’s officiating crew included Sarah Thomas, the first woman to ever officiate an NFL championship game.
• Fournette joined Terrell Davis and Larry Fitzgerald as the only players to score touchdowns in four games in a single NFL postseason.
• Gronkowski moved into sole possession of second place for most receiving touchdowns and receptions in Super Bowl history. Jerry Rice has him on both stats.
• It was also the first time in Mahomes’ career that the Chiefs quarterback lost by double digits, as well as the first time in more than 30 games that Mahomes did not score a touchdown.