When Tom Brady’s tenure with the New England Patriots came to an end last season, fans raised questions about whether his elite playing days were behind him and if he could still recreate his magic with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Well, after a season defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have our answer: absolutely.
Brady delivered against the odds, helping guide his Buccaneers to a 31–9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs and winning MVP at Super Bowl LV. Speaking to The Varsity, Varsity Blues football team head coach Greg Marshall said that “you should never bet against [Brady].”
“He just has so much experience. And… the thing that he does that all great players do is he makes the people around him better as well.”
The Buccaneers played a near-perfect game on both ends of the field. The offense took advantage of the opportunities they had — thanks in part to poor discipline from the Chiefs defense, which Marshall labelled as “dumb penalties” — that led to them losing their poise.
The old Patriots duo of Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski led the charge on offense, connecting for two touchdowns, with wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Leonard Fournette also scoring a touchdown each. Brady finished the game, completing 21 of his 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
However, the Buccaneers’ defense stole the show, thanks to Todd Bowles’ defensive masterclass, neutralizing the potent Kansas City offense led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Continuous pressure from the Buccaneers defensive line on an already-depleted Chiefs offensive line led to Mahomes being overwhelmed in the pocket all night. Mahomes was pressured 29 times — the most out of any quarterback to ever play in the Super Bowl.
Marshall noted that the shuffling around of players within the offensive line didn’t help and that the Buccaneers “won the game on the line of scrimmage.”
“An offensive line… is a unit or group that plays [together] more probably than anyone on the field,” Marshall said. According to Marshall, when left tackle Eric Fisher went down for Kansas City in their game against Buffalo, it affected the whole unit. “[The Chiefs] were asking those five guys to block an outstanding defensive effort from Tampa Bay, and they just couldn’t do it.”
As for the Buccaneers secondary, their coverage made it difficult for Mahomes to find his favourite targets in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, forcing him to hold onto the ball longer and placing him under greater pressure in the pocket. Mahomes finished the game completing only 26 of his 49 passes, for 270 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked three times.
So, what’s the move going forward for both teams?
The Chiefs’ story is far from over. They have constructed a team that is elite in every aspect and have shown that they are able to remain perennial contenders. However, Marshall believes that they need to improve their offensive and defensive lines going forward, as Sunday night displayed the team’s clear Achilles heel.
As for the Buccaneers? They’ve made it clear that they have no plans for this season to be a one-off. A big part of this will be to re-sign key free agents this offseason such as wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Lavonte David. In talking to reporters following the game, Brady had one message for the league: “We’re coming back.”