Tom Brady sealed his place in the pantheon of America’s greatest sporting icons on Sunday, winning a record seventh Super Bowl as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers routed the error-strewn Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.
The 43-year-old Brady – who became the oldest man to play in the Super Bowl – etched another remarkable chapter in his 21-year career as the Buccaneers shattered the Chiefs’ dreams of back-to-back NFL championships.
Brady, who only joined the Buccaneers last year after two decades with the New England Patriots, delivered a vintage display with three touchdowns, 21 from 29 completions and no interceptions at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.
But it was a miserable night for the Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, seen by many as the likeliest pretender to Brady’s throne.
Mahomes, 25, was roughed up repeatedly by a relentless Buccaneers defense, sacked three times and intercepted twice, failing to register a touchdown as the Chiefs’ vaunted offense failed to fire.
Instead the night belonged to the Buccaneers and Brady, who added another incredible feat to his extensive catalogue of achievements by leading his new franchise to the Vince Lombardi trophy after a tumultuous season played under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chiefs pay penalty
The expected Super Bowl classic never materialised as the Buccaneers dominated to race into a 21-6 first half lead with two touchdowns from Brady’s old Patriots team-mate Rob Gronkwowski and a third from Antonio Brown.
Running back Leonard Fournette rushed for a fourth early in the third quarter as the Bucs comfortably closed out a win that saw head coach Bruce Arians become the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl.
The Chiefs were left ruing a disastrously indisciplined first half display that saw them repeatedly give up penalties that cost 95 yards.
The Chiefs were never in the game after taking the lead with a 49-yard Harrison Butker field goal, with the Bucs defense pressuring Mahomes from the outset.
The Buccaneers finally sparked into life on their third drive as Brady cleverly began varying play, using Fournette to pick up a quick first down before hitting receiver Brown for a 16-yard gain.
A further long gain from Cameron Brate and a Fournette rush put the Buccaneers deep in Chiefs territory, and Brady picked out an unmarked Gronkowski to put the Bucs 7-3 up after Ryan Succop’s extra point.
After another Chiefs punt, the Bucs were soon back threatening the red zone. This time however Kansas City pulled off a huge goal-line stand to deny running back Ronald Jones from one yard.
The Chiefs were unable to make that moment count, however, and were forced to punt away on fourth down. Another costly penalty made the punt even longer and left the Bucs in good field position.
The Chiefs looked to have snaffled an interception off a deflected Brady pass but again another holding penalty let the Bucs off the hook.
It got worse for the Chiefs soon afterwards when another penalty, this time for an infraction at the line of scrimmage, turned a Succop field goal attempt into a Bucs first down.
On the next drive, Brady found Gronkowski in the end zone once more to make it 14-3. With the Chiefs again settling for a field goal on their next possession, the Bucs regained the ball leading 14-6 with a minute remaining in the half.
Yet again penalties proved to be the Chiefs’ nemesis. A 34-yard pass attempt from Brady to Evans earned a flag after Bashaud Breeland tripped Mike Evans.
Another holding penalty, this time against Tyrann Mathieu, left the Buccaneers on the one-yard line with 13 seconds left.
This time Brady arrowed a bullet pass through a crowd of defenders to find Brown for a touchdown and a 21-6 lead.
The Chiefs rallied early in the second half, with rookie running back Clyde Edwards Helaire producing two long carries take Kansas City into Bucs territory.
The Bucs defense again shut down Mahomes passing options though, leaving Butker to cut the lead to 21-9 with a field goal.
Tampa Bay’s offense picked up where it had left off in the first half, with Brady’s 25-yard completion to Gronkowski setting up good field position.
From there Fournette found space on the outside and accelerated away from the Chiefs defense for a 27-yard gallop into the end zone. Succop’s kick made it 28-9 and the Bucs were cruising.
It got worse for the Chiefs on the next possession, when Mahomes was sacked by Shaq Barrett before tossing an interception on the next play, safety Antoine Winfield with the pick.
Another Buccaneers field goal from Succop made it 31-9 heading into the fourth quarter, and the game ended as the Bucs grabbed another interception.