The GOAT has done it again. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, winning 31-9, helping Tom Brady win his 7th Super Bowl. I know — when you read the title and see “The Empire,” you think of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. But, it is indeed Tom Brady who is the emperor that ran the Death Star for nearly two decades in Foxborough.
Just as in the Star Wars saga, with a new Jedi on the rise — Luke Skywalker — who is deemed the one to save the empire and restore order, Patrick Mahomes was taking the NFL world by storm. In his first year starting full time, he won the NFL MVP. In his second year starting, he won Super Bowl MVP. In his third year, he once again reached the Super Bowl and looked to help his team be the first to repeat as champions since Tom Brady and the Patriots in ‘03 and ‘04.
Last night was equivalent to one of the last scenes in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. When Darth Vader battles with Luke Skywalker, he uses his fighting experience and power to not only outduel him but, ultimately, defeat him. One of the major headlines in Super Bowl LV was going to be the passing of the torch if Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were able to win. But, similarly to Vader, Brady enforced his will on the young quarterback and put the rest of the league on notice that he is still the emperor of the NFL.
Now that Brady is in stand-alone company with 7 Super Bowl victories, do not think for one second he will walk off into the sunset. His relentless drive and desire for winning is not going anywhere. After the win yesterday, when asked about the future, in typical Brady fashion, he replied, “I’m coming back.”
For the first time ever in Patrick Mahomes’ football career, he didn’t throw a single touchdown. Granted, the Chiefs were missing three starting offensive linemen, but Buccaneers defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, drew up a masterful gameplan in slowing down the Chiefs.
There is an old saying in the NFL; offense sells tickets, and defense wins championships. Throughout their magical playoff run, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense proved why the latter of that statement is true.
In their four-game span, the Buccaneers allowed just 350 yards per game while allowing an average of 19.5 per game. Also, they totaled ten sacks and forced seven interceptions — most by any team in the postseason. In the NFC Conference Championship against the MVP Aaron Rodgers, they made him look pedestrian in the most crucial moments of the game.
Although Rodgers finished the game completing 33 of 48 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns, the Buccaneers defense stopped him three different times in the 4th quarter alone with just a 5 point lead. To put the cherry on top, they stopped perhaps the most explosive offense in the league — the Kansas City Chiefs — holding them to a season-low, nine total points.
It is only fitting that while we celebrate Black History Month (February), two African American coordinators showed out throughout this Super Bowl run.
Offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich, called a fantastic game in the Super Bowl. All year long, TE Rob Gronkowski was quiet. But, in the biggest game of them all, his coordinator got him involved early and often. He was able to draw up schemes that involved all of his star wide receivers, and most importantly, he was able to establish a very good working relationship with his quarterback, Tom Brady. It is not an easy task to satisfy 4 Pro Bowl pass catchers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski. But, Leftwich made it work and ultimately left them all happy as they ended the year as world champs.
Defensively, week after week, Todd Bowles dialed up the pressure and helped his team be the first ever to host a Super Bowl. Most impressively, last night against the Chiefs, the Buccaneers had their lowest blitz rate of the season. And yet, they were still able to pressure Mahomes 29 different times. The Buccaneers defense looked all-time great last night as they rattled the Chiefs. Throughout the game, I bet most were waiting for the Chiefs to explode as they always do. But, on the brightest stage, it was Bowles and this defense that stole the show. Which honestly shouldn’t come as a surprise.
In lieu of the dilemma in the NFL where there are not enough minority head coaches, both of these Black men proved last night that they belong in this league.
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