Super Bowl LV Takeaways: Brady’s seventh title his most defining yet
“How will Tom Brady fare without Bill Belichick?”
It was the question that immediately came to mind when Brady announced back in March his time with the New England Patriots had officially come to an end and he was joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After winning six titles over two decades alongside the man most consider to be the best coach in NFL history, Brady was finally branching out and taking a big risk by venturing into the unknown with his legacy potentially on the line.
On Sunday, Brady gave us all an emphatic answer to the Belichick question when he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy over his head for the seventh time in his career.
In leading the Buccaneers to a dominant 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Brady captured an historic seventh championship and a record fifth Super Bowl MVP – accolades unrivalled in the sport and unlikely to be matched or surpassed any time soon, if ever.
And he did it all as, at age 43, the oldest player to ever suit up in a Super Bowl.
Those accolades and achievements aside, Brady’s latest Super Bowl victory is the most defining championship of his illustrious career. By taking the leap out of New England and still finishing the season at the pinnacle of his sport, Brady eliminates whatever questions possibly remained to be thrown in the face of his greatness.
Was Brady’s success in New England a byproduct of Belichick’s coaching? Could Brady excel on the field in a different system with a different coaching staff around him?
Sunday’s extraordinary victory wipes away all of those excuses, leaving us to appreciate one simple fact: Brady is now indisputably the Greatest of All Time.
While Brady collected the trophy, it was Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles who was the real MVP of Super Bowl LV.
To the shock of absolutely everyone watching, Tampa’s defence completely stifled Kansas City’s high-flying offence on Sunday in one of the most lopsided matchups in Super Bowl history.
The Chiefs were unable to score a single touchdown in the game, becoming just the third team ever to fail to get into the end zone in the Super Bowl. It was also the first game of Patrick Mahomes’ NFL career in which he lost by more than eight points.
It’s a remarkable achievement for the Bucs against one of the most dangerous offences the NFL has seen over the last two decades, and one that torched Tampa Bay back in Week 12.
How did they do it? Chalk it up to a brilliant game plan by Bowles and perfect execution by the Buccaneers defenders.
The biggest factor was the pressure Tampa was able to get on Mahomes all night long.
Kansas City’s biggest weakness in the game was its patchwork offensive line, playing without four of its five regular starters. With a dominant defensive line playing its best football at just the right time, the Buccaneers took advantage of the mismatch and got a ton of pressure on Mahomes without having to rush the quarterback with more than four players.
As a result, Mahomes was pressured on more than 50 per cent of his dropbacks and forced to travel 497 yards (!!) before throwing the ball or being sacked, according to Next Gen Stats.
It will go down as one of the best defensive performances in Super Bowl history, and Bowles deserves much of the credit.
The Chiefs were their own worst enemy
We can’t talk about how this game unfolded from a Chiefs standpoint without talking about the penalties first.
Kansas City was devastated by penalties over the first two quarters of Sunday night’s game. The Chiefs’ 95 first-half penalty yards were the most in the first half of a game this season and the eight penalties called on K.C. marked the most in a first half in Super Bowl history.
No fan, neutral or otherwise, ever wants the officials to play as big a role in any game – let alone the Super Bowl – as they did Sunday night. And it’s fair to question some of the pass interference fouls called on the K.C. secondary late in the second quarter – specifically the 34-yard penalty on Bashad Breeland and the eight-yarder called on Tyrann Mathieu in the end zone – that led to the Bucs’ third TD of the game.
But many of the first-half penalties taken by the Chiefs were fair calls – calls you’d expect to be made in any other football game.
On top of that, K.C. was simply making the kinds of bad mistakes a team can’t afford in a championship game. From problems on special teams with a rookie punter to questionable timeouts at the end of the first half, to the continued issues protecting Mahomes, the Chiefs never looked like they were prepared to deal with what the Buccaneers were doing and showed little ability to adjust at any point in the game.
Yes, some of the penalties called on the Chiefs were questionable, but Kansas City played a much bigger role in its own downfall than the officials did.