It's nearly time for Super Bowl LV. We're just hours away from Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, but I decided to use some time awaiting kickoff in the best way possible. I flipped on my Xbox, started up Madden NFL 21, and set up a simulation of the matchup to help predict what fans will see on Sunday night. Let's just say that we're in for an instant classic if the real-life game is anything like what the video game projects.
It may not come as much of a surprise that Super Bowl LV ended in a similar fashion to Tom Brady's previous wins with the most Super Bowl titles all-time (six, to be exact). We've got Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl XXXVIII, where Brady can thank game-winning kicks from Adam Vinatieri for two of his rings. While Brady is making his latest title bid with a different team, if the Madden NFL football gods make our latest CBS Sports simulation of Super Bowl LV come true on Sunday, Brady will have a repeat of arguably the most exciting championship of his career.
Jordan Whitehead jumped into the same class as former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (circa Super Bowl XLIX) as he was able to secure a Super Bowl-winning interception in the end zone off Patrick Mahomes. With just 33 seconds left to play in Super Bowl LV and Kansas City at the 1-yard line while down by six points, Mahomes, who likely could have just rushed for the score, rolled out left and tried to connect with tight end Travis Kelce for a touchdown. Then, Whitehead was able to jump in front of the throw, intercept Mahomes' pass, and help Tampa Bay pull off the 20-14 victory to give them their second Super Bowl in franchise history.
Super Bowl LV is almost here, and you can watch it for free on the CBS Sports App.
Prior to that epic interception, this game was a pretty tight affair. The Buccaneers took the opening kickoff and were able to get on the board early thanks to a Leonard Fournette's 12-yard touchdown run. However, Kansas City was quick to answer in the early minutes of the second quarter when Mahomes connected with Tyreek Hill on a pretty pass in the back left corner of the end zone.
That second quarter was where most of the scoring took place, as Tampa Bay answered with a quick touchdown drive of their own to break the 7-7 tie courtesy of a Mike Evans touchdown. The receiver finished the game with a team-high 51 yards receiving and that score.
One of the first initial blips for Kansas City came on their ensuing drive. With Mahomes and company getting the ball to begin the second half, this was an ideal opportunity to get points on the board on two-straight possessions before Tampa Bay's offense could even touch the ball again. That ideal situation, however, never came to pass. Mahomes threw his first interception of the day as he tried to hit Demarcus Robinson on a slant route. Bucs corner Sean Murphy-Bunting was able to get in-between the quarterback and receiver and haul in the pass by last year's Super Bowl MVP. From there, Tampa Bay was able to tack on a field goal prior to halftime and go up by double digits.
Kansas City wasted no time trying to get back into this game at the start of the second half, ripping off two chunk plays that totaled 58 yards before Mahomes connected with receiver Sammy Watkins, who caught a 30-yard pass on the prior play, for a seven-yard touchdown.
At this point of the game, both defenses really started to clamp down. Tampa Bay was shut out in the third quarter and K.C.'s front seven was able to pressure Tom Brady much more frequently, including a key sack that would late hold the offense to a field goal at the start of the fourth quarter. Both defenses forced three-and-outs on back-to-back series in the fourth, including a clutch stop by the Chiefs, who were giving Mahomes and his offense the ball back with over two minutes left and an opportunity to march down the field to win their second consecutive title. And they nearly did.
On a third-and-7 play with 40 seconds remaining, Mahomes pulled off what was primed to be the play of the game. While on the run, he threw a dart to Tyreek Hill, who was able to make a toe-tapping catch right at the 1-yard line before falling out of bounds.
The very next play, however, resulted in that Whitehead pick that you saw at the top of this story, which gave the Buccaneers their first title since the 2002 season and Tom Brady a seventh-career championship. Brady finished the game with 186 yards passing and one touchdown while Mahomes had 204 yards through the air, two touchdowns, and two picks. With that game-clinching pick, Whitehead was named Super Bowl MVP.
It should be noted that Mahomes also was on the losing end of our simulation last year and ended up being just fine outside of the virtual world and in the actual Super Bowl LIV matchup with San Francisco. Can he best the computer again and win another title? We'll find out Sunday.