Tom Brady, the greatest of all-time, beat the Patrick Mahomes, the greatest of this time, handily and with a ton of help from one of the grandest team defensive performances in Super Bowl history.
Brady, the 43-year-old Buccaneers quarterback, found his rhythm after two early punts while Mahomes, the 25-year-old Chiefs quarterback, ran for his life from start to finish behind a decimated offensive line missing both starting tackles and forced to play former Vikings castoff Mike Remmers at left tackle.
The result was a woefully one-sided 31-9 victory by Tampa Bay — an NFC wild-card team — over the defending champion Chiefs, the AFC's top seed, in Super Bowl LV. It was Brady's seventh Super Bowl victory in 10 tries and his first in his debut season with the Bucs, the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium.
And, yes, with the COVID-19 season now officially in the books without a single cancellation, Brady is indeed looking forward to a 22nd NFL season in 2021.
"We're coming back," he said with a smile.
So, too, is Bruce Arians, who at 68 became the oldest Super Bowl- winning coach while denying Andy Reid the chance to become the first to win back-to-back titles since New England's Bill Belichick and Brady beat Reid's Eagles 16 years ago.
"I'm not going anywhere," Arians said. "I'm coming back to try and get two."
Brady won his fifth Super Bowl MVP, completing 21 of 29 passes for 209 yards, three touchdowns, no turnovers and a 125.8 passer rating. His first half — 16-for-20 with three TDs, including two to old buddy Rob Gronkowski — marked the first time a quarterback completed 80% of his passes with three touchdowns in one half in Super Bowl history.
Bradt and Gronkowski have connected for 14 postseason TD passes, breaking the tie of 12 they shared with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.
Brady's third TD pass, a 1-yarder to Antonio Brown, came with 6 seconds left in the half and gave the Bucs a 21-6 lead. The drive was aided by two Chiefs penalties, including one that nullified an interception, and two timeouts Reid called in hopes of getting the ball back for his offense.
Kansas City was flagged 11 times for 120 yards. The Bucs were penalized four times for 39.
"It was a bad day for us to have a bad day," said Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, who closed the first half with a pass interference penalty in the end zone and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for coming unglued after Brady turned it into Brown's touchdown. "The ball didn't bounce our way, the calls didn't go our way."
As the football world waited for Mahomes to pull another magically vintage Mahomes escape, the Bucs defense followed coordinator Todd Bowles' game plan to the letter and choked the life out of league's most creative and dangerous offense.
Yes, the same offense that opened Week 12 at Tampa with Mahomes throwing for 229 of his season-high 462 yards in the first quarter of a 27-24 victory. Tyreek Hill had 203 yards and two touchdowns in that quarter.
This time, Mahomes had but 9 first-quarter passing yards and didn't surpass 100 yards until the closing seconds of the third quarter. Hill was shut out in the first quarter and had only two catches at halftime.
"I think [Bowles] got a little tired of hearing about how unstoppable [the Chiefs] were," Arians said. "I thought he came up with a fantastic plan just to keep them in front of us and then tackle really well."
Mahomes was effective scrambling for a couple first downs early, but that didn't bother the Bucs. They were more focused on choking off Hill and Travis Kelce.
"Patrick wasn't going to beat us running," Arians said. "We'll let him run all day."
For Mahomes, it was his first NFL loss by double digits and the first time his team didn't reach the end zone offensively in 54 career games. He fell to 44-10, including playoffs.
Bowles' game plan included a heavy dose of double high safeties to take away Kansas City's downfield attack. And with Remmers not up to the task of replacing the injured Eric Fisher, Bowles turned his vaunted pass rush loose.
Mahomes was sacked three times and did well many times to escape and give his receivers a chance. But great defense and some drops caused him to go 0-for-8 with an interception in his first eight third-down throws. He threw two interceptions and finished with a 52.3 passer rating.
"We weren't on the same page as an offense in general," Mahomes said. "I wasn't getting the ball out on time, the receivers were running routes not exactly where I thought they would be at, and the offensive line, they were good sometimes and sometimes they let guys through. That's why we played so bad."
Offensively, give credit to Bucs line that gave up only one sack while willing the 28th-ranked running attack to 145 yards. Leonard Fournette had 20 touches for 135 yards from scrimmage, including a 27-yard touchdown run to put Tampa Bay up 28-9.
Defensively, the Bucs had two more takeaways, giving them nine for the postseason. Rookie Antoine Winfield Jr., the former Gophers standout safety, had an interception. Devin White had 12 tackles and an interception while Ndamukong Suh had 1½ sacks.
"The coaches put together a great game plan and the players followed it to a T and believed in it," Bowles said. "This means the world to us. Now we have a couple months to say we're world champions. And then we'll start up again."
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.