Here are my Super Bowl LV takeaways:
1. Dominant up front
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won this game up front, specifically on defense. They sped up the clock for Patrick Mahomes and had pressure in his face all night. The Bucs finished with 3 sacks but it felt like more. And what really made a difference was that they did it with a four-man rush on most occasions. Tampa Bay only blitzed six times out of 56 dropbacks.
And while the Bucs’ defensive line put pressure on Mahomes, their offensive line was protecting Tom Brady. Mahomes was pressured on 52% of dropbacks; Brady was only pressured on 13% of dropbacks.
2. Dominant on back end, too
By getting pressure on Mahomes with just four, that gave Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles his full complement of defenders in pass coverage. The secondary did an outstanding job of keeping Tyreek Hill from making big plays. Linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David deserve a ton of credit for their underneath coverage. Even when Mahomes was able to scramble and buy himself a little more time, he couldn’t find anyone open. With White and David taking away those underneath passes, Kansas City only converted three first downs for the game.
3. Play-action passing
The Buccaneers used play-action on a season-high 43% of their dropbacks Sunday. Brady was 10-for-13 for 135 yards, 3 TDs and 9 first downs on play-action passes Sunday, including 3 of 4 with 2 TDs when targeting Rob Gronkowski.
4. Can’t win if you can’t score
Amazingly, Super Bowl LV was the first game in Mahomes’ NFL career In which the Chiefs did not score a touchdown. In Tom Brady’s last two Super Bowls, his team’s defense has held two elite offenses – the 2020 Chiefs and the 2018 Rams – to a total of four field goals.
5. Penalties hurt, but…
Clearly, penalties were a big part of the Chiefs’ struggles. They committed 11 penalties for 120 yards on Sunday. But it should also be noted that this was nothing new for the Chiefs. Kansas City committed the fourth-most penalties in the NFL this season, and it didn’t stop them from finishing 14-2.