Last March, in his first press conference as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Tom Brady publicly acknowledged the high-level talent on his new team. “They’re committed to winning,” Brady said of his teammates. “And I’ve got to come in and do my part.
“That’s why I’m here.”
Brady did his part, and then some, whether he was leading the Buccaneers to an 11–5 regular season record or to three-straight road playoff wins. On Sunday, in Tampa Bay’s 31—9 Super Bowl LV victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady carved up the Chiefs’ defense, throwing for 201 yards and three scores. In the process, the 43-year-old quarterback won his record seventh Super Bowl.
While the Bucs trailed 3–0 after their first two possessions, Tampa Bay took the game's lead with 37 seconds to go in the first quarter when Brady found tight end Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown. The two would connect again for an 18-yard score with just over six minutes to go in the half, giving Tampa Bay a 14—3 lead, and marking the 14th Brady-to-Gronkowski touchdown pass of their postseason careers, the most in NFL history.
With just six seconds to go in the first half, Tampa Bay added a third touchdown, capping off a five-play 71-yard drive. They took a 21–6 lead into the locker room.
Despite committing a Super Bowl–record eight first-half penalties, the Chiefs responded to open the second half, as kicker Harrison Butker made his third field goal of the game. Brady and the Bucs would answer, however, scoring a touchdown and a field goal on their next two possessions to take a 31–9 lead with 2:46 to go in the third quarter.
Brady knew what he was inheriting when he joined the Buccaneers last offseason after two decades with the New England Patriots. In 2019, Tampa Bay had the No. 3 scoring and total offense and provided the aging quarterback with arguably his most prolific receiving core since the Randy Moss era. It was fitting then, that on Sunday, Brady relied on a number of players from Tampa Bay’s deep supporting cast.
Gronkowski, who came out of retirement to join Brady in Tampa Bay this season, finished with a team-high 67 receiving yards while running back Leonard Fournette added 135 total yards and one score.
"When I was a kid, I grew up not liking Tom Brady because I was a Peyton Manning fan," wide receiver Mike Evans said earlier this week. "And now I’m the biggest Tom Brady fan. So, it’s great being able to catch balls from him."
In his first three seasons as Kansas City’s starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes had won the league’s MVP, thrown for 50 touchdowns in a single-season and captured both a Super Bowl MVP and a Super Bowl championship. But Mahomes appeared to be uncomfortable throughout the entirety of Sunday’s loss.
He threw for just nine first-quarter yards and 67 first-half yards. Mahomes finished the game completing just 26 of his 49 attempts, for 270 yards and two interceptions. It marked a far cry from his 462-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Bucs in Week 12.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Chiefs trailed 31–9, having not scored a touchdown through three quarters for the first time in Mahomes’s career. Early in the frame they got to Tampa Bay's 11-yard-line, but running back Darrell Williams dropped Mahomes's fourth-down pass attempt to give the Bucs possession and seal Mahomes's first-career double-digit loss.
Sunday marked a fitting end to Brady's first season with the Buccaneers. This season, the 14-time Pro Bowler, three-time first-team All-Pro and three-time MVP threw 40 touchdowns, his most since 2007 as well as 4,633 yards, his most since 2015. But in the end, it is Brady’s latest title which will outlive any of his individual statistics.
“He is a proven winner who will provide the leadership, accountability and work ethic necessary to lead us to our goal of winning another championship,” head coach Bruce Arians said when Brady signed with Tampa Bay last March.