TAMPA, Fla. — The future met the past at Super Bowl LV on Sunday. And the old GOAT won once again.
Game MVP Tom Brady threw three first-half touchdowns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used a smothering defense to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 at Raymond James Stadium. It was Brady’s seventh Super Bowl title in 10 attempts and was Tampa Bay’s second victory in as many tries in the NFL championship game. Tampa Bay also won Super Bowl XXXVII after the 2002 season.
The Buccaneers (15-5) became the fifth wild-card team since 2000 to win the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay was 7-5 after losing to Kansas City during Week 12 of this season but won their next eight games to earn the right to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. They also won at their home stadium as the Super Bowl featured a team playing on its home turf for the first time.
The victory gave the Tampa Bay area its second major sports title during the past year. In addition to the Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team won the Stanley Cup. In baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays made it to the World Series but lost in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kansas City (16-3) and quarterback Patrick Mahomes were attempting to become the first back-to-back Super Bowl champions since the 2003-04 New England Patriots, who were led by Brady. But Tampa Bay was efficient on offense and harassed Mahomes on defense. In fact, the Buccaneers did not allow a touchdown.
The Chiefs became the third team in Super Bowl history not to score a touchdown in the game, matching the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI and the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Brady, who won Super Bowl MVP honors for the fifth time in his career, threw a pair of touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski and one to Antonio Brown to give the Buccaneers a 21-6 halftime lead. Leonard Fournette scored on a 27-yard run in the third quarter to help ice the game for Tampa Bay.
Brady completed 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards. Mahomes was 26-for-49 for 270 yards but was intercepted twice and sacked three times.
Brady, the ageless quarterback at 43, joined Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to win Super Bowl titles with two different franchises.
Speaking of age, Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians, 68, became the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay’s defense kept Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense off-balance. The Chiefs were also plagued by penalties, as they were flagged eight times for 95 yards in the first half.
Kansas City scored first with Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal with 5:14 left in the first quarter.
Tampa Bay took a 7-3 lead after Brady flipped a short pass to Gronkowski for an 8-yard touchdown with 37 seconds left in the first quarter. It was Gronkowski’s 13th career postseason touchdown pass from Brady, breaking a tie with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice for the most TDs for a duo in playoff history.
Gronkowski ended the game with six catches for 67 yards.
It was the first time in 10 Super Bowl games that Brady had directed his team to a first-quarter touchdown drive.
Kansas City stopped the Buccaneers on a goal-line stand early in the second quarter. Tampa Bay moved into scoring position when a 31-yard pass from Brady to Mike Evans, gave Tampa Bay first-and-goal at the Kansas City 6-yard line. However, Tampa Bay failed to score on its next three plays, with Ronald Jones stopped at the 1-yard line on fourth down.
Brady and Gronkowski connected for another score in the second quarter, a 17-yard strike that gave Tampa Bay a 14-3 lead with 6:05 left in the half.
Butker’s 34-yard field goal with 1:01 left in the half cut Kansas City’s deficit to 14-6.
Tampa Bay, helped by two pass interference calls, took a 21-6 lead when Brady found Brown for a 1-yard touchdown with six seconds left in the half.
The Chiefs scored on their first possession of the second half, as Butker kicked a 52-yard field goal to make it 21-9.
But Tampa Bay answered with a six-play, 74-yard drive capped by Fournette’s 27-yard run that gave the Buccaneers a 28-9 lead. Tampa Bay got the ball right back on the Chiefs’ next possession, as a scrambling Mahomes threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Antonio Winfield Jr. Tampa Bay capitalized with a 52-yard field goal by Ryan Succop to give the Buccaneers a 31-9 lead with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
The title game came at the end of a season played during a COVID-19 pandemic, but no games were canceled. Both the Chiefs and the Buccaneers have had few cases of COVID-19. The NFL and health officials in Florida approved about 22,000 fans for the game, and all were required to wear masks. Raymond James Stadium, which hosted its third Super Bowl, normally seats up to 75,000 fans.
Tampa, which hosted its fifth Super Bowl, is used to adversity. In January 1991, Super Bowl XXV was played under heightened security due to the first Gulf War.
Sunday’s game had plenty of firsts. In addition to the Buccaneers becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl on its home turf, it was the first time a Super Bowl featured the top two passing offenses in the NFL, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The game also marked the first Super Bowl between starting quarterbacks who have previously won a Super Bowl title and an MVP award.
The game was a rematch of Week 12, when Kansas City defeated Tampa Bay 27-24 at Raymond James Stadium. In that game, Mahomes and Brady combined to throw for 807 yards and six touchdowns. Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill scored three touchdowns and had 269 yards receiving, while Tampa Bay’s Evans had two fourth-quarter touchdowns.