Super Bowl 2020 Review

Stefan Collins, Staff Writer

Super Bowl LV review:

The 2020 NFL season has now officially ended. It was a season like no other and it will never be forgotten. The season will be remembered because it was the first time in NFL history that the game was played in the home stadium of one of the teams playing. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed the Kansas City Chiefs to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida in what was marketed as a showdown between (now) seven-time champion Tom Brady and All-Pro Quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Before we look at the Super Bowl, which was eventually won by the home team, let’s look at how the champions made it to the big game in the first place.

The road to the Super Bowl:

The Buccaneers ended the regular season with an 11-5 win / loss record. The team had a record of 7-5 when they lost to their eventual Super Bowl opponents in week 12. But their schedule to finish the regular season saw them match up against the Minnesota Vikings, who had a historically poor day when it came to kicking field goals. Then two matchups against the mighty 4-12 Falcons in weeks 15 and 17. Oh and of course the Detroit Lions who statistically had the worst secondary anyway, but on this day the entire Lions coaching staff was absent due to contracting COVID-19.

The momentum of the Buccaneers diluted schedule carried with them into the playoffs, where they played the winner of the worst division in the NFL history, the 7-9 Washington Football team. The Bucs offensive line did a phenomenal job of blocking Chase Young and Co, giving Tom Brady a lifetime to stand still and locate the open receiver, leading to a 31-23 win.

The second playoff match up that the Bucs played in was against the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees had the single worst performance of his Future Hall of Fame career. Brees threw three costly interceptions. The Buccaneers Defense put their Offense in position to score from the Saints: three, 40, and 20-yard line, leading to the only touchdowns of the day for the Buccaneers. Tom Brady had an underwhelming performance. But it seemed as though Brady received much of the credit for the win, despite the Buccaneers defense carrying the 43-year-old Quarterback, who had two passes that should have been intercepted that were dropped by the defense. The Bucs won 30-20 and progressed to the Championship game.

The Buccaneers played against the Packers for the NFC title. The referees decided that they would allow the Buccaneers defenders to get away with blatant holding and pass interference calls all game long. This ultimately decide the game. In the first half, a terrible Packers secondary allowed Bucs receiver to run wide open. Packers defensive back, Kevin King, had perhaps the worst timed jump I have ever seen from an NFL player, allowing Mike Evans to catch an easy pass on a fade route for a touchdown. King’s lack of ability to play Corner Back in the NFL showed yet again when King allowed Scotty Miller to gain at least three yards of separation for a long touchdown. The touchdown was set up by an interception by Sean Murphy-Bunting. Anybody with a basic understanding of Football would tell you that the interception, was made possible by a deliberate hold by Murphy-Bunting on Davonte Adams. In the second half Brady threw three interceptions. To put it bluntly, he choked on three separate pressure situations. But Brady was bailed out by his superb defense, which allowed just six points to be scored from the three (potentially costly) turnovers. With the score at 31-26, the Packers still had a faint pulse. The Buccaneers faced a third down-play to end the game. Brady overthrew receiver Chris Godwin, but the officials decided that they did in fact know how to throw the yellow flags that they carry around after all. They called pass interference on the Packers (which was the correct call but there were several calls that the officials should have made but didn’t.) The Buccaneers won thanks to an elite defense, excellent starting field position, perfect offensive line play, and poor officiating.

The event itself: The Chiefs vs the Zebras

The main story from the first half of the Super Bowl was the fact that officials made several questionable calls which shaped the course of the game. In the second quarter with the score at 7-3 in favor of the Buccaneers, Brady threw an interception that was overruled by a holding call against Tyron Matthew. The “holding call” was irrelevant to the actual play and in classic Brady fashion he was bailed out of a turnover. It is hilarious that the officials decided that Matthew held Mike Evans. But Murphy-Bunting did not hold Adams in the NFC championship game. The Chiefs defense stopped the Buccaneers shortly after to force a Field Goal attempt. An official decided that a member of the Chiefs Field Goal Block unit was lined up in the Neutral Zone (A questionable call as no adequate replay angle could confirm that the ruling was correct.) This led to a Bucs touchdown.

On a drive before the end of the half. Brady threw a deep pass to Mike Evans which was overthrown, however Chief Defensive Back, Bashaud Breeland tripped up and tangled his feet with Evans. The official threw a flag for pass interference, setting the Bucs up with 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 24-yard line. The flag should not have been thrown.

A tweet by Terry McAulay regarding the Pass Interference penalty stated, “The contact was incidental… this was not a foul” – @SNF Rules (Twitter.) Terry McAulay is a veteran NFL referee that analyzes and explains rules for Sunday Night Football on NBC. A second flag on the drive came from a pass interference penalty. This time against Matthew in the endzone, on a pass that was not catchable in the first place and therefore, by rule, should not have been a penalty. This led to a one-yard touchdown for the Buccaneers.

Questionable officiating gifted the Buccaneers 14 points in the first half. Without officiating help it is possible (not definite) that the game would have turned out differently. Momentum is a real thing and the officials gifted it to Tampa Bay.

The event itself: The battle in the trenches

The Buccaneers were the better team overall and it was thanks to the unbelievably dominant performance that they had from both their offensive and defensive lines. NFL analyst Mina Kimes tweeted the stat the perfectly summarized the evening.
“Mahomes was pressured on 29/56 drop backs [passes] – the most of any Quarterback in Super Bowl history.
Brady was pressured on 4/30 – the lowest of his 10 total Super Bowl appearances.” – @minakimes twitter

Mahomes ran for his life, (Starting tackle Eric Fisher’s absence did not help) doing everything in his power to make a play happen. He almost pulled off two of the most impressive plays of his career. In the first quarter, Mahomes scrambled out of the pocket to evade pressure and threw what would have been a 31-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill off his back foot. Hill uncharacteristically dropped the ball and it hit him in the facemask. The second came in the 4th quarter with just under 14 minutes remaining in the game when Mahomes miraculously released a pass from an almost guaranteed sack, which was dropped by Darrell Williams in the end zone.

Brady however, enjoyed the luxury of dropping back to pass and only having to deal with pressure on four occasions. This allowed him to easily complete check down passes and the occasional “deep” pass to Rob Gronkowski or Evans. Both appeared to have multiple yards of separation every time the ball was thrown their way. Brady threw three touchdown passes, two to Gronkowski. The first on an eight-year pass that was thrown on a flat route. The initial pass did not travel beyond the line of scrimmage. The second was on a 17-yard pass where Brady had an eternity to wait for Gronkowski to gain separation (set up by the previously mentioned penalties.)

Final thoughts:

The Buccaneers won this game due to a magnificent performance by their Offensive and Defensive line. The men in the trenches are the players that deserve the credit. Not Brady as the media insists. Brady once again has found himself in the most ideal situation imaginable for him to win and reel in the benefits. If the teams were to switch Quarterbacks, I have no doubt that the Bucs would still win with Mahomes. Brady on the other hand, with 29 pressures and his lack of mobility, would have struggled. It’s amazing how playing for a great team makes all the difference, isn’t it? It’s almost as if Football is a team sport where the best team wins. Not an individual sport where the Quarterbacks face off against each other.