The Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes figure to be the story of many Super Bowl Sundays for years to come with their prolific offense, but that was not the case to close out this season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles had different plans in their 31-9 Super Bowl LV victory.
Many of the national headlines will revolve around Tom Brady’s seventh title in 10 trips to the Super Bowl and his first with a new team, but Tampa Bay rode an elite and relentless defense to its second championship in franchise history. It was a far cry from what took place in the Chiefs’ 27-24 victory in Tampa in Week 12.
In the regular-season meeting between these two teams, Mahomes cooked the Bucs’ secondary for 462 passing yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill had 269 yards and all three of those scores.
The Bucs’ last loss came to these Chiefs. They watched the film, made the adjustments, and at the end of the night, Mahomes and Hill finished with 270 and 73 yards in this game, respectively in a major reversal from the first meeting.
Bowles’ gameplan was executed flawlessly
Bowles, a former head coach with the New York Jets, was in contention for NFL head coaching jobs this offseason but was unable to land another opportunity. Sunday night’s showcase proved why he is one of the best defensive minds in the league.
Tampa Bay was able to slow down one of the most explosive offenses in league history by way of some aggressive calls from its defensive coordinator and exotic blitzes that had Mahomes running for his life all night.
Exhibit A, as provided by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell:
This third-down blitz was *wild*. Bowles shows the mug look, drops both LBs off, sends *both corners*, and plays fire zones behind. Mahomes shrugs and hits Tyreek in the helmet. pic.twitter.com/QCkLNJwXHe
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) February 8, 2021
At the end of the night, Kansas City was left without a single touchdown and finished the night 3-for-13 on third down. With all of the NFL head coaching vacancies filled, Bowles and the Bucs are set to run this defense back again next season.
A spotlight on Tampa Bay’s front seven
Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time, but the argument can be made that the star linebacker duo of Devin White and Lavonte David were more worthy of the honor. The two combined for 18 total tackles on the night with two tackles for loss and three passes defended.
Players who should get the MVP after 3 quarters:
Players who will probably get MVP after 3 quarters:
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) February 8, 2021
The league has increasingly shifted to offense over the past several years, but team speed and a relentless pass rush on the defensive side of the ball still win football games. David and White stamped their names as two of the best linebackers in all of football on Sunday.
The Chiefs offensive line was a significant issue
The tires fell off of the Chiefs’ hot rod offense on Sunday and a big part of that was an offensive line that was without its two starting tackles. Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz were replaced in the lineup by Mike Remmers and Andrew Wylie and the dropoff was significant.
Mahomes had to work for everything he got on Sunday evening while playing on an injured toe. There was a case to be made that the offensive line was going to be what decided this game for Kansas City, and that matchup was lopsided in favor of the Bucs.
One of the biggest things that held Mahomes back at Texas Tech was a porous offensive line and a lack of help from his skill players. The Bucs made the Chiefs’ star passer deal with issues he hadn’t seen since college.
Because of that, the Chiefs dreams of repeating never came to fruition. The offseason belongs to the Bucs as Super Bowl champions.