Super Bowl LV: Brady Makes History
Floris de Bruin reviews Sunday’s Super Bowl LV, where Tom Brady yet again proved himself to be one of the very best.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 – 9 Kansas City Chiefs
Tom Brady has done it yet again. He proved his legendary status on Sunday night by propelling his team to Super Bowl victory, something he promised to do when signing from the New England Patriots in 2020. Having cumulatively featured in 18 per cent of all Super Bowls, in what was his tenth appearance, he is an undisputed high achiever in the NFL with seven championship rings (more than any franchise) and a historic fifth MVP award to his name. Did we not see this coming?
Many didn’t, and understandably so. The Buccaneers are historically a losing franchise, particularly infamous because of their inaugural 1976 season where they did not win even a single game, let alone play a draw. The arrival of Tom Brady, who continues to play at the age of 43, among other transfers such as Rob Gronkowski who had just come out of retirement, did little to inspire serious confidence in their chances of success.
This is in stark contrast to the Kansas City Chiefs, who were clear favourites to come out on top during the contest. Looking to become the first side since Brady’s former side the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005 to win back-to-back Super Bowls after last year’s triumph over the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs have been a force to reckon with since 2018. This is in part attributable to the arrival of their star man Patrick Mahomes, touted as the “closest thing the world has seen to a perfect quarterback” according to The Times. At just 25 years of age, Mahomes has been orchestrating one of the most dynamic passing offences in the NFL.
Nevertheless, as so often is the case with sports, things do not always pan out as they are expected to as the Buccaneers dominated the match. They showed a tactical masterclass in defence, whereby their pass rushers – fronted by Shaquil Barrett and Ndamukong Suh – consistently managed to break through to Mahomes. The quarterback was left vulnerable by his teammates repeatedly, being forced to track back and pass on the go as he was under significant pressure. As Mahomes’ talents were suppressed, throwing for 270 yards to no avail (zero touchdowns and three pass interceptions), so were the attacking opportunities of the Chiefs as a whole.
The Buccaneers, in turn, found success in running charges towards the end zone, covering great distances with the ball in hand. This allowed Brady to perform more manageable passes, connecting with Gronkowski twice and Brown once in the end zone with razor sharp passes as he does best. The final touchdown would come from Fournette completing a 27-yard drive, emblematic of the Buccaneers wider offensive strategy. The Chiefs would only score from three field goals and were unable to turn the tide of the game as their many fouls impeded their progress.
Tom Brady still reigns supreme, and Patrick Mahomes must await his time to shine (which is sure to come). Though, to place the victory solely in Brady’s hands is reductionist, as there are many reasons why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won – they were in great form, the Chiefs suffered losses in the form of absent players due to injury and the guidance of their offensively minded and risk-taking coach Bruce Arians helping to secure just their second Super Bowl.
Billed as an era defining meeting between Brady and Mahomes – old versus young, experience versus inexperience, master versus apprentice – this Super Bowl had the ingredients to pique the interest of sports fans from around the world. Entertainment in the form of live performances and comical advertisements are central to the viewing experience, as viewers seat themselves in front of the television and snack away.
However, the coronavirus pandemic made a considerable dent in American cultural history as this was the lowest attended Super Bowl event ever, with only 25,000 people in attendance. Nevertheless, performances were many, including a pre-game concert by Miley Cyrus, a reading of an original poem by national poet laureate Amanda Gorman, and an energetic halftime show by The Weeknd. Though companies struggled to employ the right tone of voice in a country ravaged by COVID-19, advertisements were at the fore of discussion as usual.
Despite all complications, Super Bowl LV proved to be a memorable one. As Gronkowski puts it in his own words, “It’s hands down one of the greatest accomplishments in sports history.” Though his response is undoubtedly emotional, he is not wrong – the drastic revolution of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from a negligible side to a title winning franchise is an impressive feat that is equalled by few, becoming one of two teams to go undefeated in multiple Super Bowl appearances.