Following a rather late night watching the Superbowl, here’s my British eye take on the game from my position of limited knowledge and growing enthusiasm.
The Bucs arguably went into the game as underdogs; the incumbent champions Kansas City Chiefs and their young mobile quarterback Patrick Mahomes fancied by many to sweep Tampa back into the Bay.
The headlines today mostly feature news of Tom Brady and his incredible 7th Superbowl win; I think that detracts from what to me was a team performance, enhanced by a little bit of KC beating themselves.
Tom Brady did what he does best; he played in the pocket, making consistent positive plays. Kansas City achieved little in terms of trying to interrupt Brady, managing just one memorable sack all game – the Bucs O Line resilient. They allowed him to get the job done, picking out his former Patriots team mate Rob Gronkowski for two touchdowns in the game – the Tight End having been a blocker for much of the season but stepping up for this game, showing off his veteran talent. That was pretty much it for Brady’s contribution; arguably his moment of “magic” came from KC allowing him a minute at the end of the second half to galvanise his team mates into making a rapid foray towards the KC end zone, marching up the field quick time in true Brady fashion and snatching a third touchdown. The decision not to “go for it”, as KC have often thrilled fans by doing this season, and leaving Brady with so much time, may haunt them.
With the game 6-21 at half time, it was all but over.
Kansas City coughed up an astonishing 95 yards from 8 penalties in the first half alone. The game stats between the two teams were quite close except for this one crucial area. No doubt many KC fans will feel hard done by, but the officials made it pretty clear from the outset that they weren’t going to tolerate things like minor holding infractions, and it was KC that failed to heed these warnings. Things improved from a discipline perspective in the second half, but the damage was done.
The true heroes of this game were arguably the Tampa Bay defense. Time and again they broke through the KC O-Line, leaving Mahomes scrambling backwards (and to his immense credit, still managing to launch passes in the general direction of his receivers). The Tampa secondary seemed to have the drop on Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill and arguably the best Tight End in the league Travis Kelce throughout the game, limiting Mahomes passing options.
Where many were expecting to see a masterclass in offense from Kansas City, they were treated instead to one in defense; how to contain and eliminate the threat of a modern agile Quarterback. The rest of the league were surely taking notes, but I very much doubt (and hope) that we haven’t seen the last (or best) of Patrick Mahomes yet. As for Tom Brady, he was merely cementing his status as the greatest QB of all time, and there will be few who would bet against seeing him in another Superbowl with this team.
Tampa Bay thoroughly deserved their 9-31 win. It didn’t have some of the thrills, spills and knife edge drama of this seasons play-offs, but it was great to watch as a neutral. I look forward to the draft and the new season; hopefully seeing NFL returning to the UK.