Let’s begin our weeklong look ahead to Super Bowl LV by looking back at the Week 12 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What can we learn from that meeting that will prepare us for Sunday’s NFL title game?
The Chiefs won that first game, 27-24. Kansas City was unstoppable in the first half, jumping out to a 20-7 halftime lead. Tyreek Hill had 203 receiving yards in the first quarter alone. But the Buccaneers defense came around in the second half, holding the Chiefs to just a touchdown after the intermission and allowing Tampa Bay to make it close. Tom Brady hit Mike Evans to bring the Bucs within three with 4:10 left to play.
Ironically, the explosive Chiefs offense sealed the victory with a methodical four-minute drill offense. Patrick Mahomes converted a pair of key third downs – one with his arm and one with his legs – and the Bucs never got the ball back.
Tom Brady clearly lost the marquee matchup between he and Mahomes. Brady passed for 345 yards and 3 TDs, but he also threw 2 interceptions. Mahomes, meanwhile, passed for 462 yards, 3 TDs and no picks.
But it’s important to note that Brady and the Bucs offense has been steadily improving all season. Since that Week 12 loss to Kansas City, including their three playoff wins, Tampa Bay is averaging 34 points per game.
Two aspects of Tampa Bay’s offense in the Week 12 game will be critical in the Super Bowl:
1) Bucs running back Ronald Jones had 103 scrimmage yards – 66 rushing, 37 receiving and two scores (one rushing, one receiving).
2) The bigger the stakes, the more Brady relies on his old pal Rob Gronkowski. The future Hall of Fame tight end had just one 100-yard game in 2020 – 6 catches for 106 yards against the Chiefs.
Some other interesting nuggets from the Week 12 game:
- Tyreek Hill finished the game with 13 receptions for 269 yards and 3 TDs.
- The first four drives of the game for Kansas City produced 238 yards; the first four drives for Tampa Bay produced 44 yards.
- The Bucs didn’t cross the 50-yard line until there was 5:18 left in the second quarter.
- While Hill and Travis Kelce combined to catch 21 of Mahomes’ 37 completions in the game, it’s worth noting that Mahomes completed passes to a total of eight different players in the game.
- Brady completed passes to seven different players, though neither Scotty Miller nor Tyler Johnson caught any passes.
- The Chiefs ran a trick play on their opening drive of the game. From inside the Bucs’ 5-yard line, tight end Travis Kelce took an end-around pitch and attempted to hit Mahomes in the end zone. The pass fell incomplete, but Mahomes was open. File that one away for Sunday.