Daniel Horner | Content Writer
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers shut down the defending Super Bowl champions in an impressive all-round effort to become the first team to win the title at their own home, Raymond James Stadium. Tom Brady further cemented his G.O.A.T legacy with another stellar performance; his three touchdown passes secured him the games MVP award and at 43, became the oldest player to triumph on the biggest stage. Bruce Arians became the oldest winning head coach aged 68, the record previously held by Bill Belichick.
Tampa Bay’s swarming defence ultimately won the game for them, limiting the three-point favourite Chiefs to nine points and failing to convert redzone trips into vitally needed touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes was left scrambling for his life; the Buccaneers pass rush consistently applied pressure against a depleted offensive line for the Chiefs that was missing its two top starting offensive linemen. Mahomes was forced to improvise out of the pocket, a recurring turf toe injury hampering his movement in the second half. He threw two interceptions and was sacked three times, with his deep threat Tyreek Hill often double teamed and thus ineffective. Much credit should go to Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for executing a magnificent game plan.
The game was a slow starter, with both defences applying pressure and trading punts. The Chiefs actually took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter but the Buccaneers took a 7-3 advantage with an eight-yard touchdown catch and run from Rob Gronkowski. Brady connected with Gronkowski again in the endzone for seventeen yards in the second quarter to extend the lead to 14-3. Brady’s touchdown passes to his ex-Patriot teammate was the most by a QB-Receiver tandem in Super Bowls with five. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker reduced the deficit to 14-6 with a field goal but Tampa marched down the field with a minute of the half remaining, capitalising on numerous Chiefs penalties to lead 21-6 at the interval. Controversial free agent Antonio Brown, personally recruited by Brady, caught the one-yard touchdown that put the Buccaneers in a commanding lead that they would not relinquish, unlike the San Francisco 49ers, who last year blew a fourth quarter 20-10 lead. Tampa Bay responded to an early second-half Chiefs field goal with ten points of their own to put the game out of reach. Leonard Fournette sped away for a twenty-seven-yard touchdown run, the running back amassing eighty-nine yards on sixteen carries for the night.
Uncharacteristically, Kansas City produced a sloppy performance across all phases. Mahomes’ heroic efforts were in vain as his receivers were guilty of drops all night, the running game stifled outside of the use of his own legs. The defence was frustrated, registering only one sack and two quarterback hits. When they did make impressive plays, such as a huge goal-line stop in the first half, they only nullified it soon after. Penalties played a huge role early as the Chiefs finished with eleven for 120 yards; they negated a strong Tommy Townsend punt, a Tyrann Mathieu interception, a Buccaneers field goal that turned into a touchdown drive. The Bucs were called for four penalties for 39 yards.
The surprisingly one-sided contest capped an end to a well-organised season that finished on time thanks to successful efforts of the league to run operations as smoothly as possible during a global pandemic. Super Bowl 55 will be remembered fondly for numerous reasons. Healthcare workers made up 7,500 of the 25,000-attendance, accompanied by cardboard cut-outs. Sarah Thomas became the first female to officiate in a Super Bowl, while The Weekend’s half-time show performance was a social media success. Another season has been completed, and given the circumstances, may be one of the most important and successful in history. Next, the Draft, and the long offseason before the competition returns in September. Expect both Tampa Bay and Kansas City to be vying for another Super Bowl appearance next year. Perhaps we will get another Brady versus Mahomes rematch.