I’m sorry, someone said defense doesn’t win championships anymore?
Someone might want to mention that to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Not only was it the Bucs defense more than anything else that earned their club their shiny new rings, it was Kansas City’s defense that gave Tampa its biggest assist.
Predictably Tom Brady is once again the Super Bowl MVP and Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette were worthy as well, but the award really should have gone to Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
Let’s see a show of hands, who among you predicted Patrick Mahomes and company would be held to nine points? Not just in Tampa on Sunday but ever?
Ten weeks ago on the very same field the Chiefs only scored 27 but they put up 543 yards of offense with Mahomes throwing for 462.
Garbage time which began with 2:50 to play in the third quarter when the Bucs converted a 52-yard field goal to make it a 31-9 game warped the numbers at the end, but at halftime the Chiefs had managed just 121 yards and six points, and on two possession prior to that final Bucs field goal they’d added just 44 more.
In the end Mahomes was 26-49, 270 yards (including all the garbage time), 5.5, 0 TDs, 2 interceptions, 3 sacks and a 52.3 passer rating, easily his worst performance as a pro with only an October 7, 2018 game against the Jaguars even close to as disappointing.
Tyreek Hill who had a season against the Bucs 10 weeks ago with 13-269 and 3 TDs had just two catches in the first half for 13 yards and finished with 7-73.
How did Bowles do it? He blitzed just five times all night knowing that his front seven could dominate the Chiefs banged up and rejiggered offensive line, bracketed Hill with a cornerback and a safety on every play and trusted his two second team All Pro inside linebackers, Devin White and Lavonte David to deal with Travis Kelce.
The Chiefs defense on the other hand was overmatched almost from the jump with its Achilles heel all season long, the Run ‘D’ allowing 145 yards on 33 rushes and committing one unnecessary penalty after another.
While the defense was the main culprit, the Chiefs 11 penalties for 120 yards and several more that were declined assured their club would never have a chance.
With Kansas City trailing 21-6 but receiving the opening kickoff of the second half it was hard to assume Mahomes would bring them right back and make it a game but after the Bucs stopped them on that first possession on 3rd and seven at the Tampa 34 forcing them to settle for a 52-yard field goal and Tampa then went 74 yards in just 3:41 and only six plays to make it 28-9, even with almost 23 minutes left you knew this one was over.
While not spectacular Brady was efficient as could be – 21-29, 201, 6.9, 3 TDs, 0 interceptions, 125.8 – and clearly the guy every Buc on both sides of the ball looked to to guide them, securing him his seventh Super Bowl and fifth MVP.
Afterwards though he refused to make it personal saying, “The team had a lot of confidence, we came together at the right time, I think we knew this was going to happen guys didn’t we?
“We ended up playing our best game of the year.
“This team is world champions forever, you can’t take that away from us.”
Gronk was also a difference maker really for the first time all year scoring the Bucs firs two touchdowns and finishing as the Bucs leading receiver wit 6-67, 11.2 on just seven targets.
In fairness to Mahomes none of what happened in the Chiefs worst performance of the season was really on him and in fact he made one miraculous play or at least attempt after another while running for his life almost all night long.
It will be interesting to see now how the rest of the NFL reacts going forward in this high flying offenses, video game highlight reel era where defenses have become afterthoughts to a number of teams that for the second time in three seasons it is a Tom Brady lead team’s defense that as secured titles.
Brady left no doubt immediately following the game telling us of course he’ll be back next year.
Now the biggest question of the offseason in which it seems almost everyone is already focused on finding a quarterback to combat him and Mahomes, who will come up with a defense to stop him?