In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the National Football League allowed American viewers to return to a small sense of normalcy on the Sunday afternoons throughout late 2020 and early 2021 as viewers cheered on their favorite teams. Though the NFL was not immune to the hardships brought upon by the Coronavirus, the sacrifices made by the players, coaches, general managers, and staff to fulfill a complete season was a testament to the passion that many have for the game of football. All of the hard work and effort came to a crescendo on the sunny shores of Tampa Bay, Florida on February 7th, as Super Bowl LV took place between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This Super Bowl was a rematch of a week 12 game in the regular season that resulted in a 27-24 Chief’s victory. Following this game, the Chiefs had a record of 10-1 and the Buccaneers featured a 7-5 record with many believing that they might not make the playoffs. However, the Bucs had won every game following their November 29th defeat and this Super Bowl game yielded wildly different results.
The Kansas City Chiefs, winners of the AFC championship for the past two years, road to the Super Bowl consisted of victories against the Cleveland Browns and the Buffalo Bills. Led by the extremely talented arm of Patrick Mahomes, the Chief’s offense was also bolstered by tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill who both had over 1,000 regular season receiving yards. The backfield featured rookie running back Cylde Edwards-Helaire and veteran Le’Veon Bell, while the defense was anchored by safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive tackle Chris Jones. The only questions heading into the game surrounded the Chief’s offensive line, who were missing both starting tackles in Eric Fisher and Mitchell Swartz. Regardless, many believed that the Chiefs had a high chance of winning this game which would have made them champions for the second consecutive year.
Facing the Chiefs, was the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers. Following his six Super Bowl winning career in New England, Brady signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason, bringing former teammate tight end Rob Grownkowski out of retirement to join him. They were joined by wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, in addition to the free agent signing of Antonio Brown. The duo running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones provided the ability for the Buccaneers to run a proficient play-action offense that was complemented by their strong defense. The Buccaneers defeated the Washington Football Team, the Drew Brees led Saints, and the Green Bay Packers with MVP Aaron Rodgers to advance to the Super Bowl in hopes of Brady earning his seventh Super Bowl ring.
Super Bowl LV kicked off with three and out possessions from both teams. However, the Chiefs were able to mount a small drive and a Harrison Butker 49 yard field goal put the Chiefs up 3-0 with about 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Buccaneers quickly followed with a drive of their own which resulted in a short touchdown pass to Rob Grownkowski in the final minute of the first. Later in the second quarter, a Buccaneer drive is halted on the goal line due to two unsuccessful Ronald Jones runs up the middle, but the stout Tampa Bay defense forced another punt. Aided by some questionable penalties, the Bucs were able to configure another successful drive that resulted in a second touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski to put the Bucs up 14-3. A subsequent Chief drive ended in a second field goal, but with 55 seconds remaining, Tom Brady marched the Bucs offense down the field bolstered by two pass interference calls which was followed by a one yard passing touchdown to Antonio Brown with six seconds remaining in the half. As the field was being prepped for the Weekend’s halftime show, the Chiefs found themselves walking into the locker room down 21-6.
The second half was a defensive master class for Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. The Chiefs were able to score a field goal on their first possession of the second half, but were unable to reach the endzone for the remainder of the game. Brady and the Bucs offense added to their lead with a field goal and a Leonard Fournette rushing touchdown. Patrick Mahomes and the vaunted Chief’s offense were held in check throughout the entire second half, with the Bucs taking advantage of their weakened offensive line that forced Mahomes to scramble in the backfield. Safety Antoine Winfield and linebacker Devin White both intercepted Mahomes as the game turned into a lopsided victory that many did not expect. As the confetti flowed down Raymond James Stadium, Tom Brady earned his 7th Super Bowl title and the Bucs their second with a 31-9 win.
“I was very surprised by the outcome of the game,” said senior Kidus Efrem. “I was disappointed that it was not a very close game, but I think the performance by the Buccaneer’s defense was very impressive.”
Patrick Mahomes finished the game 26/49 with 270 yards and two interceptions. Travis Kelce had 133 receiving yards followed by Tyreek Hill with 73 yards. On the ground Clyde Edwards-Helaire had 64 yards on 9 attempts. Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady ended 21-29 for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Rob Grownkowski led in receiving with 67 yards and two touchdowns and Antonio Brown who caught the touchdown at the end of the first half finished with 22 yards. Leonard Fournette rushed for 89 yards on 16 attempts with one touchdown.
With football coming to an end, fans now look to the upcoming free agency which may feature the movement of several quarterbacks and premier players. The 2021 NFL Draft is set to be in Cleveland, Ohio in late April and hopefully training camp and the offseason will resume in a more normal fashion with regards to COVID-19. Certainly, the 2020-2021 NFL season will be one that is remembered as a great success as the players of America’s favorite sporting event took the field in empty stadiums, maneuvered around cancellations and testing, and brought a high level of skill and play for people across the country.