It wasn't the kind of fight you expected in Super Bowl LV, as it was nothing short of a beatdown when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pummeled the Kansas City Chiefs with a 31-9 victory at Raymond James Stadium -- becoming the first NFL team to ever host and subsequently win a Super Bowl on their own field. Both teams saw their defense own the day at the outset, with several punts having been forced in the first quarter. But while Tom Brady felt the presence of defensive end Frank Clark with a drive-ending sack in the first quarter, it felt like reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes wasn't far from finding his groove, until the tables turned in wild fashion.
The 43-year-old had his way with the Chiefs defense after being handcuffed until just ahead of the second quarter, when he connected with tight end Rob Gronkowski for a record-setting touchdown to take the lead and hasn't looked back since. Thanks to two critical drops by Kansas City -- one by Tyreek Hill and one by Travis Kelce -- Mahomes finds himself under duress and suffering from poor execution by his usual lethal targets, and penalties are only making things worse for Andy Reid's bunch. Following a fantastic defensive goal line stand, they'd suffer a shanked 29-yard punt by Tommy Townsend and then flags that gifted the Bucs a first down that led to a second touchdown by Gronkowski -- opening up a 14-3 lead.
More defensive penalties again gave Brady the knife, and he sliced them again with a touchdown pass to Antonio Brown and now, thanks to more great play by Gronkowski and a punished TD run by Leonard Fournette, the high-powered Chiefs were cornered and then pounded into submission in a manner no one's accustomed to seeing.
It's the first time Mahomes has ever lost an NFL game by double digits, and while the loss cannot be laid at his feet, he'll undoubtedly use it as fuel for 2021 and potentially a third chance to defeat Brady in the postseason; but for now it's the GOAT enjoying the grain, and an unreal seventh NFL championship. For Mahomes, revenge will have to wait, as will the passing of the torch from Brady's hand to his.
Why the Bucs won
They saw blood in the water, and they went after it.
It felt as if it would be a low-scoring affair when the two teams matched punts to open the first quarter, but it turned out to be anything but for Tampa Bay. It's not simply that Brady went all, well, Brady on them -- dropping three passing touchdowns with no interceptions -- but a massive nod also goes to the defensive unit and coordinator Todd Bowles for what he was able to do to Mahomes. The reigning Super Bowl MVP was suffocated to the tune of two interceptions and while he threw for 270 yards (far below the average and expectation), it took him more than 2.5 quarters to hit the 100-yard mark and he was sacked four times while hit a total of eight times on the evening.
It was all-around bully ball by the Bucs and the usually well prepared Chiefs looked like a deer in headlights the entire game, from drops to matador o-line play to an overall lack of discipline that Tampa Bay took full advantage of in keeping the momentum firmly on their side of the pendulum -- never allowing Kansas City to come up for air once their head was completely underwater.
It was a relentless effort by all involved on the Tampa Bay sideline, and the final score proves it.
Why the Chiefs lost
Mistakes, and plenty of them.
Mahomes did all he could to try and save the day, but there was ultimately no day to be saved because he has virtually no assistance in his efforts. Yes, some of the defensive penalties were controversial -- most certainly the call against All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu in the end zone that put the Bucs on the one-yard line and led to yet another touchdown in the second quarter -- but not all of them were. In all, the Chiefs were flagged 11 times and it cost them a whopping 120 yards on the day, and the mistakes not only helped Brady run up the score, but it also negated great plays like the holding penalty on Bashaud Breeland that negated what would've been the Chiefs only interception of the game (Mathieu could've swung the momentum if that INT stood).
Things went downhill from there when factored into the impact of being without both starting tackles and the aforementioned drops, with running back Darrell Williams getting in on the drop party with one of his own in the end zone as Mahomes channeled inhuman magic -- for naught. And if you want to evidence to what Mahomes was up against, he ran for a total of 497 yards before either throwing a pass or suffering a sack in the Super Bowl, per Next Gen Stats, and that's the most by any QB this entire season.
One team simply wanted it more, and it wasn't even remotely the Chiefs.
This was brutal for the Chiefs, and can't fully be explained by the league.
This isn't to say the refs gave the game to the Bucs, because it was Kansas City losing as much as it was the refs having a poor showing but, however you slice it, this penalty against Mathieu could be viewed as the first true nail hammered into the Chiefs' coffin. The ball wasn't catchable, but there was a flag, and it put the Bucs on the one-yard line. One play later, Brown was reeling in a touchdown and Tampa Bay was up 21-6 to end the first half -- the beginning of the blowout.
Play of the Game
Antoine Winfield, Jr. was questionable to play ahead of this game, but his play during was anything but.
Father Time loses again
"Can't wait until Brady retires so I never have to worry about betting against Brady again." - Jake Brown of The New York Post
Take a look at the live blog below for anything you might've missed from Super Bowl LV.