Sunday evening saw the crowning of a new champion in the NFL as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the defending champion, the Kansas City Chiefs, with a final score of 31-9. For Tampa, this marked their first Super Bowl victory since 2003 when they defeated the Oakland Raiders 48-21. For Kansas City, they were unable to recapture the magic from a season ago when they defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20. Tampa Bay dominated all three aspects of the game: offense, defense and special teams en route to thoroughly defeating a Kansas City team that looked nothing like they had during the regular season.
Quarterback Tom Brady earned Super Bowl MVP honors for the fifth time in his career as he played an extraordinary game. Brady was on point in the game, completing 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to star tight end Rob Gronkowski. Those two touchdown passes put Brady and Gronkowski in the lead for the most touchdowns accounted for between a quarterback and receiver in postseason history, as over their careers they have accounted for 13 touchdowns in the postseason. The running game was on point as well, as Leonard Fournette rushed 16 times for 89 yards and a touchdown run in the third quarter.
The Buccaneers’ offense was helped throughout the game by mistakes made by the Chiefs’ defense. The Chiefs were penalized a total of 11 times for 120 yards, with most of those penalties coming on the defensive side of the ball, whereas Tampa Bay was only penalized four times for a total of 39 yards. Those penalties were crucial, as they allowed for Tampa Bay to continue drives that had stalled out, including an offsides on fourth and five that ended up allowing the Buccaneers to score a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal. A defensive holding penalty also overturned an interception that would have given Kansas City great field position and much needed momentum.
Field position is a battle that is often overlooked in football; however, it could be said that field position is the most crucial part of the game. This is because it dictates what types of plays can be called as well the chances of scoring, as less distance to the endzone makes it easier to score. In this game, Tampa Bay won the field position battle handily in the game, as Kansas City often started their drives deep in their own territory while Tampa Bay was able to achieve much better starts to their drives. This was in part due to the terrible special teams performance by the Chiefs, particularly by the punter Tommy Townsend who only averaged 35.7 yards per punt in the game, including a 29 yard punt that only made it to the Kansas City 38 yardline.
While it is easy to declare how good Tampa Bay looked and how bad Kansas City looked, the Chiefs’ offense had a much better day than it would seem at first. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 26 of his 49 passing attempts for 270 yards, more than Tom Brady. However, many of his 23 incompletions came at critical junctures of the game, such as third or fourth downs. Many of the incompletions cannot be pinned on Mahomes, though, as he managed to make some miraculous throws that prevented loss of yardage that were accurate but not caught by his receivers. Several of these were in the red zone as well, where a completion would have given Kansas City a touchdown. Mahomes was also pressured consistently throughout the game as the Buccaneers pass rush kept getting to him, forcing him out of the pocket and into bad situations.
There were many other notable statistics that arose from this game, both on and off the field. As mentioned before, Brady and Gronkowski made history as the best quarterback-receiver tandem in postseason history with 13 touchdowns between the two. For Brady as well, he notched his seventh Super Bowl victory, which is the most ever in NFL history. He now also has more Super Bowl victories as a person than any NFL team has in history. He previously was tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys with six victories apiece; however, he now stands alone at the pinnacle. There were also notable stats from the Chiefs as well, as when they kicked a field goal in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead, they extended their streak of games where they held a lead at any point in the game to a remarkable 62 games. While the Super Bowl this year may not be remembered by much outside of the score and a fourth-quarter streaker, these statistics will remain in the books forever.