Tom Brady brought Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette to Tampa Bay to win a Super Bowlnd that’s exactly what they did.
After another storybook year – the most unlikely, remarkable season of his incredible career – Brady collected his seventh ring and fifth Super Bowl MVP as the Buccaneers trounced the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.
Aided by Todd Bowles’ defense, which bullied, negated and made Patrick Mahomes look mortal, Brady put on a clinic as he led the Bucs to a second Vince Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
‘I’m so proud of all these guys out here. We had a rough month of November but BA (head coach Bruce Arians) had all the confidence in us, the team had a lot of confidence, we came together at the right time and I think we knew this was going to happen tonight, didn’t we? We ended up playing our best game of the year.’
At 43, Brady joins Peyton Manning as the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two teams. Unlike Manning – who was elected into the Hall of Fame on the eve of the game – Brady is already preparing for his 22nd season.
‘Yeah, we’re coming back,’ he beamed as the ticker tape fell once again.
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Tom Brady hoists the Lombardi trophy as confetti rains down on the field at Raymond James Stadium after his record seventh win in the Super Bowl as Tampa Bay beat Kansas
Brady (right) celebrates with Rob Gronkowski after their victory on Sunday night. Brady threw three touchdown passes
Gronkowski celebrates one of his touchdowns as the two former Patriots team-mates combined in Sunday night’s victory
A frustrated Patrick Mahomes returns to the sideline in the second quarter of Super Bowl LV on Sunday in Tampa
Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates Shaquil Barrett and Ndamukong Suh take down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
Rob Gronkowski now has five career touchdown receptions after hauling in a pair from Brady in the first half on Sunday
Completing 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards, Brady threw the first two of his three touchdown passes to Gronkowski – the pair now have a record 14 in the playoffs – and a third to Brown to give the Bucs a commanding 21-6 half-time lead. After Fournette added a 27-yard score in the third quarter, the Chiefs were relying on the sort of miracle performed by Brady in Atlanta two years ago.
The Bucs ground game kept an already exhausted Chiefs defense on its heels – Fournette went for 89 yards rushing and Ronald Jones 61 – as Bowles’ unit stymied Mahomes and swarmed his top targets Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Shaq Barrett finished with a sack and four quarterback hits as the fearsome front of Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul stopped the run and Mahomes, who was sacked three times and intercepted twice.
Among the 25,000 fans in Tampa’s Bay’s Raymond James Stadium was 95-year-old Kay Arians, who saw her son Bruce, 68, become the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl.
After assembling the NFL’s most diverse staff, including long-term collaborator Bowles and offensive co-ordinator Byron Leftwich, Arians said: ‘This really belongs to the coaching staff and our players. I didn’t do a damn thing.’
Buccaneers QB Tom Brady has words with Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Tyrann Mathieu in the first half of Super Bowl LV
Tampa Bay pushed its lead to 28-9 in the third quarter on a 27-yard touchdown run by running back Leonard Fournette, a former first-round pick who signed with the Bucs after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars
Kansas City were unrecognisable from the side which came back to sweep the San Francisco 49ers aside last year.
During a wretched first half, they dropped catches and committed a record eight penalties which yielded an unforgiveable 95 yards. Truly an unwanted Super Bowl milestone.
‘It was uncharacteristic, and it was too bad it happened today,’ rueful head coach Andy Reid said.
Elsewhere in the first spell, jittery rookie punter Tommy Townsend, 24, was called into action three times. The Chiefs had only punted once previously in the playoffs. It didn’t help that he shanked a kick and that a 51-yarder was brought back for a penalty.
As they imploded and argued amongst themselves, offensive production was limited as Mahomes completed 26 of 49 passes, most of them under duress. He also threw two interceptions.
It was the first time in his career that he had been held to single digits and also his first double-digit loss in the NFL. On third downs, where he normally does so much damage, he didn’t complete one until late in the fourth quarter.
He played with turf toe and was at times heroic. As he extended multiple plays he conjured some miraculous, unfathomable throws – two hit receivers in the face in the end zone – but he just couldn’t do it alone as Hill was held to 73 yards.
‘Obviously I didn’t play the way I wanted to play,’ he said. ‘What else can you say? All you can do is leave everything you have on the field. I feel like the guys did that. They beat us pretty good, the worst I’ve been beaten in a long time.’
Patrick Mahomes absorbs a hit from Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett during the first half of Super Bowl LV
Patrick Mahomes came up short in his attempt to repeat as an NFL champion as Tom Brady won his record seventh title
Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church perform the national anthem while the Air Force perform a fly over before Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium
Rob Gronkowski with the first of his two touchdown spikes on the day, this one a 17-yard finish in the second quarter
Yes, all teams have injuries, but the loss of Eric Fisher cannot be underplayed.
The Chiefs left tackle tore his left achilles against Buffalo in the AFC Championship Game. Without the No 1 overall pick of the 2013 draft, Mike Remmers was moved to Fisher’s spot and Andre Wylie from right guard to right tackle. Bowles took notice, with Barrett and Pierre-Paul doing maximum damage.
But let’s not take anything away from Tampa Bay. They followed up road playoff wins over Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers with a comprehensive dismantling of the reigning champions, their eighth straight win.
The last time these teams met – the Chiefs won 27-24 in week 11 – the game was over by the first quarter. You could argue the same was true here.
Harrison Butker put the Chiefs 3-0 up with 49-yard field goal, but after Brady threw to Gronkowski for his first ever touchdown pass in the first quarter of a Super Bowl, a pattern was set. The Bucs could move the ball, Kansas City could not.
The Chiefs gave themselves the chance to rally after linebacker Anthony Hitchens knocked Brady’s two-yard pass out of the hands of offensive lineman Joe Haeg in the end zone. Then Jones came up short on third and fourth down.
After Brady’s Bucs accumulated only 16 yards on their first two drives, Mahomes engineered an eight-play, 31-yard drive that culminated with Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead (pictured)
The Chiefs had a crucial goal-line stand in the second quarter, which prevented the Buccaneers from taking an 11-point lead
After the Chiefs punted, Brady – who was intercepted by Tyrann Mathieu only for it to be wiped out by a penalty – made them pay, finding Gronkowski with a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Again, the Chiefs could not convert decent field position into seven points, with Butker booting a 34-yard field goal.
Just before the half, Reid burned two timeouts in the hope that his side would get the ball back. Instead, just they had done at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship, the Bucs scored a timely touchdown to demoralise their opponent, this time through Brown.
After the Weeknd weirdly warbled, Fournette pounded through to effectively end the game before the teams exchanged field goals.
Chiefs and Bucs fans celebrate in the end zone alongside the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa
At the end of it all there was Brady. In a Covid-hit year, with barely an offseason and under a new head coach and scheme, the most remarkable player the sport has ever known proved his will to win once again. He even saw off Steve Spagnuolo in a Super Bowl.
And after preventing Mahomes from going back-to-back – just as he had done against Russell Wilson in Arizona six years ago – it is he who has the chance to win consecutive titles.
Would you bet against him?