For the second time in franchise history, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are Super Bowl champions. Tom Brady and his club were able to convincingly defeat the defending champions Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium, 31-9. While both offenses had some big-game jitters to start, it was the Bucs who awoke with ferocity as Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski on two first-half touchdowns to build upon Tampa Bay's lead. Penalties plagued Kansas City throughout the first half and two DPI infractions led to a one-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown to extend the Bucs lead to 21-6 at the break. In the second half, the Buccaneers continued to answer the Chiefs' field goal drives with touchdowns as Leonard Fournette barreled in for a 27-yard score to really put a dagger in a K.C. comeback midway through the third.
Todd Bowles' defense took full advantage of the Chiefs playing with a makeshift offensive line -- particularly at the tackle positions -- and was able to apply consistent pressure on Mahomes. That caused the Kansas City QB to begin the game missing his first eight third-down pass attempts that also included one of his two interceptions on the night. Meanwhile, Tom Brady finished the game completing 21 of his 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He was also named Super Bowl MVP.
This is the Buccaneers' first Super Bowl title since the 2002 season. As for Brady, he extends his NFL record to seven Super Bowl titles, further solidifying his place as the greatest quarterback to step on an NFL field. For a more in-depth look at this championship win by the Buccaneers, check out our takeaways below.
Why Tampa Bay won
Offensively, both clubs were a bit slow out of the gate, but when the Buccaneers finally got into a rhythm they were able to find the end zone with relative ease. The connection between Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski was particularly strong from the jump. The legendary quarterback-tight end duo connected on Tampa Bay's first two touchdowns of the day. In general, the tight end position proved to be a key area of attack for the Bucs. As Mike Evans and Chris Godwin combined for just three catches for 40 yards, the combination of Gronkowski and Cameron Brate totaled 93 yards and two touchdowns while catching nine of their 10 targets. In the second half, the running game proved to be a vital weapon for Tampa Bay as they looked to not only build upon their lead but kill clock. As a club, the Bucs totaled 145 yards on the ground on 4.4 yards per carry, which included a 27-yard touchdown run by Leonard Fournette in the third quarter (more on that below).
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles put together a masterclass in attacking a clear weakness in an opposing offense. Going into this matchup, the Kansas City offensive line was projected to be a liability, but it turned out to be much worse than that. Bowles was able to deploy minimal pass rushers while still pressuring Patrick Mahomes and forcing him to go on the run throughout the game and commit two interceptions. In the first half, Mahomes was held to just 67 yards passing, which was largely thanks to that pressure by Bowles' front seven. On top of getting after Mahomes, the Tampa Bay defense almost completely eliminated Kansas City's big-play ability with Tyreek Hill, who turned in a quiet 73 receiving yards.
Why Kansas City lost
As we noted above, the makeshift offensive line was a fatal flaw for Kansas City. Mahomes was sacked three times and the Buccaneers were able to total eight quarterback hits, which doesn't even account for the number of pressures they turned in as well. Because of the lack of talent and experience at the tackle positions, Mahomes was constantly under siege and asked to make off-balanced throws almost routinely, which proved to be unsustainable.
On top of the offensive line struggles, the Chiefs weren't as disciplined as they needed to be particularly at the end of the first half. As the Buccaneers were set to attempt a 40-yard field goal after failing to convert a third-and-5 attempt from the K.C. 22-yard line, the Chiefs went offsides that gave Tampa Bay a first down. On the very next play, Brady connected with Gronkowski for a 17-yard touchdown. On the following offensive possession for the Bucs, the Chiefs defense committed two pass interference penalties that placed the ball at the 1-yard line, where Brady was able to hit Antonio Brown for the touchdown. Those two penalty-filled drives for the Kansas City defense resulted in 14 points, which isn't exactly a Super Bowl-winning formula.
Even as this game went into the halftime break and the Buccaneers were leading 21-6, there weren't too many counting out Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. However, when they came out for the third quarter and Kansas City continued to only manage field goals, a loss started to become more inevitable.
After Harrison Butker kicked a 52-yarder to make it a 21-9 Bucs lead, Tampa Bay did what it had already done twice in the first half: Answer K.C. field goals with touchdowns. Tom Brady wasted no time leading his offense 74 yards down the field on that ensuing possession and Leonard Fournette was able to run in a dagger 27-yard touchdown to essentially eliminate any hope that the Chiefs could pull off a comeback. To make matters worse for Kansas City, Mahomes threw a pick on his next possession, which Tampa turned into three points with a field goal.
Play of the game
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski kicked things off for the Buccaneers offensively with this eight-yard touchdown. While this screen pass wasn't particularly dazzling, it did make history. With that score, the Brady-Gronkowski duo passed Joe Montana and Jerry Rice (12) with 13 postseason touchdowns, which is the most by any QB-receiver combo. Now, that only adds to the four Super Bowl titles they also share with one another.
From here, the Buccaneers can party with the rest of the Tampa Bay faithful and enjoy their first title since the 2002 season.