For the first time since the 2002 Season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the Super Bowl Champions and they did it the hard way.
Three Playoff road wins against the NFC’s 4th seed Washington, 2nd seed New Orleans Saints & top seed Green Bay Packers resulted in what should have been a Super Bowl match-up for the ages.
The defending Champions, the AFC top seeds and pre-match favourites, the Kansas City Chiefs were the opposition.
After three Playoff games away from Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs found themselves in familiar surroundings with Super Bowl 55 being held in Tampa. It was the Kansas City Chiefs who had to hit the road after being at home in the Playoffs.
It was Brady versus Mahomes, the King against the Pretender, Goat against Baby Goat. Truth be told, it was as one-sided as contests can be. This was a demolition of the defending Champions and the main culprit had the initials TB but it wasn’t Tom Brady. Step forward Todd Bowles.
Tampa Bay’s Defensive Coordinator called a masterful defensive performance fit for the biggest stage of all. Kansas City were banged up on the Offensive Line. Having lost their Left Tackle in the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs had to swap Tackle positions. Their starting Right Guard moved to Right tackle to allow the back-up Right Guard to come in to the starting line-up.
Like sharks in the water, the Bucs front seven could smell blood.
The Bucs plan was to clearly pressurise Mahomes, keeping him in the pocket as much as possible, whilst doubling up on the Chiefs’ main receiving threats of Wide Receiver, Tyreek Hill, and Tight End, Travis Kelce.
The plan worked to perfection. Mahomes was under pressure the entire night. With Hill and Kelce covered, the Chiefs Quarterback didn’t have the time to wait for the deep routes to develop. Under duress on every snap, as the game progressed, Mahomes at one time was scrambling more towards his own End Zone than his opponents.
With the Chiefs unable to move the ball on Offense due to the Bucs smothering Defense, Tampa merely had to be efficient on Offense to keep the Vince Lombardi trophy from flying out of Florida.
Offensive Co-ordinator Byron Leftwich was almost having as good a night as Todd Bowles on the play-calling front as a combination of check-downs, play-action passes and screen plays kept the Chiefs’ Defence unbalanced.
Tom Brady did in the Super Bowl what Tom Brady does in the Super Bowl. Never flustered, Brady was calmness personified. There were brief glimpses of his ability to step up in the pocket to avoid the rush but the harsh truth for Chiefs fans is that Kansas barely laid a glove on the veteran Quarterback. Brady was only sacked once the entire game.
The secret to any success the Bucs Offense had on the night was going to be linked to the running game. The impressive one-two backfield punch of Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette more than played their part.
Fournette has been a revelation in the Post-season and Playoff Lenny kept his impressive form going. His third one hundred yard plus performance of the Post-season culminating in the third quarter touchdown was the final nail in the Chiefs’ coffin.
Before Fournette’s touchdown, when it came to the big plays, well it was made in Foxboro. Brady found his favourite Tight End Rob Gronkowski twice in the End Zone for touchdowns as the duo became the most prolific scoring duo in Post-season history.
The final result? A 31-9 beatdown of one of the most feared NFL attacking teams of the past three seasons. Limiting Kansas to just three field goals is without doubt one of the most impressive defensive performances of the Super Bowl Era.
So a second Lombardi for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a an incredible seventh ring for Tom Brady. All borne from the Buccaneers most complete performance of the season in the biggest game of the year.
Not only the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium, the Buccaneers are now the first team to win a Super Bowl in their own stadium. NFL history makers for all the right reasons.
It was a historic-never-to-be-forgotten-night that will live long in the memory of Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans everywhere.
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