From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
The Buccaneers and Tom Brady are living today in a state of euphoria. The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, meanwhile, are staring at a huge piece of humble pie.
Where the entire football world expected a high-paced, fun-filled Super Bowl 55 on Sunday, the universe got the exact opposite.
The game was essentially over early in the third quarter when the powerful Chiefs’ offense was succumbed by a dominate Bucs’ defense, brilliantly prepared and coached by coordinator Todd Bowles.
The last time Mahomes went without a touchdown in a game was back in high school in Texas.
Tampa Bay’s defense more than handled the Chiefs offense, which finished the regular season No. 1 in the league, averaging 415.8 yards per game. The Chiefs finished the game with 350 yards, but a good chunk of that occurred after the outcome was decided.
While the Bills in their AFC title game loss to the Chiefs played soft-zone coverage allowing All-Pro receivers Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill to roam free, the Bucs’ safeties played high and tight. That combined with the Bucs’ ferocious pass rush and the Chiefs missing both starting offensive tackles spelled doom for the defending Super Bowl champions. Mahomes at times was scrambling for his life.
The Chiefs converted a scant 3-of-13 attempts on third down and Mahomes was sacked three times, hit eight times and intercepted twice.
The Chiefs’ defense also imploded during the second quarter, picking up foolish penalties to allow the Bucs to keep drives alive. Kansas City was assessed a Super Bowl-record 98 yards, the most in any quarter, on eight infractions. The Chiefs finished the game with 11 penalties for 120 yards.
Tampa Bay’s defense deserved all the accolades. The Buccaneers kept Hill to seven catches and 73 yards.
Brady, meanwhile, deftly used play-action passes, especially to Rob Gronkowski, and screens to keep Kansas City off-balance.
While 43-year-old Brady gets all the credit and he should — earning yet another Super Bowl MVP trophy to his vast collection and becoming a seven-time champion while four NFL franchises (Jaguars, Browns, Texans and Lions) have NEVER appeared in a Super Bowl — the real heroes were the members of the Bucs’ defense.
This go-around, Brady wasn’t on the receiving end of defensive pressure like he was when he was with the Patriots facing the Giants in Super Bowls after the 2007 and 2011 regular seasons.
On Sunday, Brady watched from the sidelines and now realized he officially won his divorce from the Patriots.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com