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May 26, 2024

The Buccaneers' innovative game plan helped them win Super Bowl LV

By JOSH FELTON | February 12, 2021


CC BY 2.0/All-Pro Reels

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers' offense dismantled the respected Kansas City defense on Sunday.

While the box score won’t show it, Super Bowl LV was historic for several different reasons. It was the first time one of the teams in the big game actually hosted the event in their home stadium. The game featured Sarah Thomas, the first female to officiate a Super Bowl in National Football League (NFL) history. It was the first time a Super Bowl included a team with all Black coordinators on the sideline.

It was also the first time a team utterly obliterated the Kansas City Chiefs since Patrick Mahomes became the starting quarterback back in 2018. Seeking to become the first team to repeat as champions since Tom Brady’s New England Patriots did in 2003 and 2004, the Chiefs entered the games as a 3.5-point favorite to win the game. Part of the reason they were favored was because of their explosiveness on offense. Led by Mahomes, the Chiefs finished the season with the best record in the NFL. Mahomes threw for 40 touchdowns thanks to great pass protection and multifaceted receiving weapons like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Chiefs defeated their Super Bowl opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, back in November by a score of 27-24, so most people were expecting a tight Super Bowl with fireworks on both sides.

What ensued was a one-sided onslaught by the Buccaneers that surprised even the casual sports fan. The Buccaneers won by a convincing score of 31-9 in which they monopolized both sides of the ball. Brady did what he’s done his entire career — dominate opposing defenses. He threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns. However, it was the Tampa Bay defense that made the strongest impression, holding the best offense in football to nine points, not giving up a single touchdown in what was a remarkable performance.

Super Bowl LV might have been the blueprint to how to beat Mahomes and the dynamic Kansas City Chiefs. It’s not a game plan every team can replicate, but if the right personnel are present, it can cause problems for the Kansas City offense in the future. The Buccaneers sent consistent and relentless pressure on Mahomes, making him drop back into coverage and forcing him into uncomfortable and inaccurate throws. The pressure clearly affected Mahomes. He completed less than half of his passes and threw two interceptions. The constant pressure also kept his explosive receivers from getting open because Mahomes was forced to make decisions with the football before they completed their routes.

He was pressured on 29 of his 56 dropbacks, which is more than what any other quarterback in Super Bowl history faced. Meanwhile Brady was pressured on only four of his 30 dropbacks, which is the lowest of his Super Bowl career. Part of the reason for the pressure was because two players on the Chiefs’ offensive line were placed on injured reserve and were unable to play in the Super Bowl. Nonetheless, Mahomes was under pressure in 2.5 seconds or less on 24 plays, which forced him to hold onto the ball and take sacks that only made problems worse for the Chiefs.

The Kansas City defense didn’t help much either as they appeared tired all night and could not stop the run or the passing attack. Rob Gronkowski almost surely made Bill Belichick rage, catching two touchdowns in what was a memorable night for everyone on the Tampa Bay sidelines. Super Bowl LV also showed how difficult it is for football teams to repeat as champions. It doesn’t happen often, and now we see why. The box score to this game will tell a story about how great Brady was; however, the blueprint for beating the Kansas City Chiefs might have just been exposed for other teams to study and replicate.

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