Written by Alan Brads
Coming into Super Bowl 55, fans expected to see an all-time legendary quarterback duel, but what they got was something far different. There was much logic to support the expectation of such a battle between the prolific passers. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Tom Brady’s name speaks for itself. He is likely the most famous player in the history of American sports (possible exceptions to Michael Jordan and LeBron James) and this Super Bowl marked his record shattering tenth appearance in the big game. On the other sideline, the Kansas City Chiefs are led by Patrick Mahomes, who is widely regarded as the best player in the league right now. Through his first three years as a starter, Mahomes has already led KC to a Super Bowl title and was the 2018 league MVP (He finished second in voting this year.) Either Brady would have to pass the baton of greatness to Mahomes, or remind the world that even at age 43, he still has what it takes to be a champion.
A high-scoring shootout is what almost every fan expected, but the first quarter was underwhelming from an offensive perspective. After trading punts, Brady finally connected with tight end Rob Gronkowski to take a 7-3 lead. Interestingly enough, despite 9 previous appearances, this is Brady’s first ever touchdown scored in the first quarter of a Super Bowl. The second quarter was packed with significantly more action and controversy. a goal line stand by Kansas City that proved that football is truly a game of inches, and multiple flags thrown by officials near the end of the half were called into question by Chiefs fans. KC Coach Andy Reid called two eyebrow raising timeouts within the last 90 seconds of the half which allowed Tampa Bay to drive down the field and take a 21-6 lead heading into the locker rooms.
Inspired by their own first half performance, the Tampa Bay defense came out ready to devour the Chiefs offense. Nearly every team Mahomes dropped back to pass the Buccaneers defensive line was immediately penetrating his protection and forcing him to throw on the run. The ability to pressure Mahomes without bringing extra defenders to help the pass rush was clearly the difference in the game. The Bucs ate up the clock by picking up first downs through handing the ball off to Leonard Fournette and letting him run behind an offensive line that imposed their will on the Kansas City defense.
Mahomes and company put only one field goal on the scoreboard in the second half, and Brady lifted the Lombardi trophy for the seventh time in his 21-year career. While fans expected a quarterback duel for the ages, the result was the Tampa Bay defense giving Patrick Mahomes nowhere to throw, nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. While his defense gave him considerable support in this particular game, what will be remembered and talked about the most in decades to come, is Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl for the seventh time.