Feb 8, 2021 - Sports

Unpacking Super Bowl LV

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Buccaneers crushed the Chiefs, 31-9, winning Super Bowl LV in front of 25,000 socially distanced fans at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

Why it matters: With the win, Tom Brady moves to 7-3 in the Super Bowl, further cementing his legacy as the G.O.A.T. at the expense of Patrick Mahomes — the player with perhaps the best shot at one day challenging Brady's throne.

The big picture: For all the ink spilled prior to the game about a dream QB matchup and two fairly evenly matched teams, this was a one-sided affair nearly from the jump.

  • The Bucs were a half-inch away from scoring touchdowns on five straight drives, while the Chiefs got inside the red zone just three times all night.
  • The win capped an epic run in which the Bucs became the first team in NFL postseason history with four, 30-point games and the first to beat three Super Bowl MVPs en route to the Lombardi Trophy (Mahomes, Rodgers, Brees).
  • As for the QB comparison? Well, Mahomes is now 6-2 in his young postseason career ... with Brady responsible for both losses.

Top performers:

  • Brady (21/29, 201 yards, 3 TD) won his record-extending fifth Super Bowl MVP.
  • Rob Gronkowski (6 catches, 67 yards, 2 TD) moved into second place all-time in Super Bowl catches (29), receiving yards (364) and receiving TD (5). He trails Jerry Rice in all three.
  • Leonard Fournette: 135 total yards, TD
  • Travis Kelce: 10 catches, 133 yards

By the numbers: It's worth parsing just how tough Mahomes' night really was, thanks in large part to the Bucs' fearsome pass rush and a masterful gameplan, put together by DC Todd Bowles.

  • Mahomes ran 497 yards (!!!) before his pass attempts and sacks, the most by a QB all season.
  • He was pressured 29 times, more than any QB in Super Bowl history. That forced him to scramble most of the night (on a bad foot).
  • His 52.3 passer rating was the worst of his career.
  • This was just the fifth time (in 54 career games) he failed to throw a touchdown, and the third time he failed to score entirely.
  • Wild stat: This was not only the first time Mahomes lost by more than one score as a pro, but the margin of defeat (22 points) was exactly half of the combined deficit in the nine previous games he'd lost (44 points).

Between the lines: Mahomes was hardly helped by his teammates, who dropped multiple passes and got flagged at a historically bad rate.

  • The Chiefs' 11 penalties for 120 yards were the worst in the Andy Reid era (2013–present), and the six that resulted in Bucs' first downs were the most in Super Bowl history.
  • Of note: Many thought the refs called a tighter game than usual, mostly benefiting the Bucs. "Neither defensive hold called on KC comes close to the standard we saw the entire season," tweeted veteran NFL ref Terry McAulay.

The bottom line: With the Lightning and Bucs winning championships, and the Rays barely losing the World Series, Tampa has completed one of the greatest five-month stretches in sports history.

  • And while the pandemic forced the Stanley Cup and World Series into neutral sites, Tampa fans got to witness this one in their own backyard.
  • It's the first time a team has won the Super Bowl at home in the game's 55-year history.

Stairway to seven

Tom Brady
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever walk the planet.

  • If there was any doubt left — any question about whether he was merely a product of the Patriots or Bill Belichick — he dispelled it this season.
  • Brady needed just 11 months to turn the NFL's worst franchise (.393 winning percentage) into Super Bowl champions.
  • Sunday's win was a true team effort, but make no mistake: No. 12 brought the Bucs to the promised land, through both his play and leadership.

By the numbers: Brady, 43, has more Super Bowl wins than any NFL team. It's completely insane.

  • Brady: 7
  • Patriots: 6
  • Steelers: 6
  • Cowboys: 5
  • 49ers: 5

Fun facts:

  • Brady's 19-year span between championships (2001–2020) is a North American major sports record, and it's not far off Jack Nicklaus' golf record of 24 years between majors (1962–1986).
  • His fifth Super Bowl MVP extends his own record and breaks a tie with LeBron James for second-most championship round MVPs in NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL history. He trails only Michael Jordan (6).
  • Sunday marked the first time that Brady's team held a lead in the first quarter of a Super Bowl.

What they're saying: My dad and I watched the game at our beach house in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. My uncle emailed us after the final whistle:

"I was at Kiawah on the first day of the 21st century watching Brady beat Alabama in OT in his last college game. Hard to imagine 21 years later you guys would be there watching him win yet another Super Bowl."
— Uncle Neal

The longevity legends ... Brady is the first NFL player to win championships in three different decades. Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Jim Palmer did this in baseball, Henri Richard in hockey and Pelé in soccer (World Cups).

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