The Real MVP(s) of Super Bowl LV

An overview of Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As Patrick Mahomes rolled out of the pocket on fourth down early in the fourth quarter, fans couldn’t help but think that it must be déjà vu, seeing Mahomes scrambling for his life again. For what seemed like the umpteenth time that game, Mahomes once again escaped magically and after being tripped up, threw a pass while literally parallel to the ground, only for it to hit his receiver Darrel Williams in the face mask. For the duration of the game, Mahomes did as much as he could but received little help from his teammates. The highly anticipated matchup between Mahomes and six-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady ended up being quite lopsided, with Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming out on top 31-9.

The Buccaneers arrived at the Super Bowl the hard way. As the wild card, they had to win three playoff games in a row, all on the road. After beating the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card Round, the Bucs handled business against Drew Brees and the Saints, winning 30-20. In the NFC Championship, Brady used a couple of well-timed touchdowns to take down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to reach his 10th Super Bowl.

As the number one seed in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs had a first round bye and took care of business against the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round despite a late injury scare involving Mahomes. In the AFC Championship, the Chiefs shut down one of the hottest offenses in football in the Buffalo Bills and routed them en route to their second straight Super Bowl.

Mahomes, who was looking for his second consecutive title in his already illustrious young career, entered Sunday's game with an injured toe and a depleted offensive line due to injuries. However, the Chiefs were still the favorites, in large part due to their fire-powered offense which hadn’t been held to under 17 points once all season. The Chiefs came into the playoffs having lost just one game (not counting week 17 when they rested all their starters), including a 27-24 victory over Tampa Bay in week 12.

Kansas City started out hot, scoring the first points of the game on a Harrison Butker field goal. But field goals would be all this high powered offense would get for the entire game, as the real MVPs turned out to be the Buccaneers’ defense, which had Mahomes constantly scrambling for his life. Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Antonio Brown capitalized on multiple flags by the Chiefs in the first half, giving Brady the chance to throw the first touchdown to tight-end and familiar face Rob Gronkowski. A couple significant Chiefs' flags later, Brady found Gronkowski again in the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown with six minutes left to go in the first half. After the Chiefs drove down the field and kicked a field goal, Brady got the ball back and promptly executed a two-minute drill, finding Brown for another touchdown, which gave the Buccaneers a comfortable 15-point lead by the time The Weeknd took the stage.

The second half was more of the same for both Tampa and the Chiefs. Tampa Bay's defense continued getting to Mahomes, pressuring the quarterback 29 times by the end of the game and forcing Mahomes to run around an astonishing 497 yards in escape of the Bucs pass rush. The multitude of four-man rushes disrupted the Chiefs’ previously unstoppable offense, and they didn’t even score a touchdown.

But while the Bucs’ defense was certainly the story of the game, there’s a reason why Brady was named MVP. Coming into the Super Bowl as the underdog, the tenured quarterback’s age-defying performance was simply classic Brady. Despite throwing fewer total yards than Mahomes, Brady was much more efficient and played a mostly flawless game that left little hope for Mahomes and his Chiefs. Brady’s performance in the Super Bowl, as well as during most of the season, also ended a pre-Super Bowl debate among some who wondered who was more important in the New England Patriots’ prior six Super Bowl victories: the head coach Bill Belichick or the star quarterback Brady. After leading a team that had only one winning season in the prior nine years, to victory in the Super Bowl, that particular debate has been put to bed.