TAMPA, Fla.: So a lot of it seemed acquainted from the heartfelt rendering of the nationwide anthem, to the silvery, star-studded halftime present, to Tom Brady standing there on the finish with a mile-wide smile, awash in confetti.
So a lot of it seemed unusual from the masked-up coaches on the sideline, to the cardboard cutouts within the half-empty stands, to Brady what? sporting pewter-and-red pants and a helmet with a Buccaneer, not a Patriot, on the facet.
History was made, simply because it all the time is, on a picture-perfect Sunday night on the Super Bowl. Brady and his new workforce, Tampa Bay, sliced and diced their option to a 31-9 thumping of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to assist the NFL put the ultimate exclamation mark on a season that many thought may by no means occur.
But this sort of historical past? Brady including to his file with a seventh Super Bowl title, however with the long-suffering Bucs, not the front-running New England Patriots? And with 7,500 of essentially the most valuable tickets in sports activities given to health-care employees the world’s unsung heroes who mingled in with these cardboard cutouts, and just a few thousand stay, hard-core followers?
This is the way in which soccer appears to be like because the world veers into the second yr of a lethal international pandemic.
Twelve months in the past, the Chiefs stood on high of the rostrum, a number of hundred miles away in South Florida, with Mahomes being touted because the quarterback of the long run and the virus now referred to as COVID-19 thought by many to be scary, however nicely bottled up, a world away in China.
As the pandemic raged throughout the globe, and into the United States, the place it has now killed greater than 440,000 folks, the world recoiled and tried to include the harm, with every nation and every state having fun with various levels of success.
The NFL used its offseason to plot and plan and attempt to discover a option to hold soccer alive. Its mission applauded by some, derided by others was to offer a way of normalcy, to offer followers of America’s hottest sport a diversion from the scary routines and life-and-death decisions that now confronted them every day.
The league performed nearly 1 million COVID assessments and put its 32 franchises by way of a few of the most stringent protocols of any business, all in an effort to maintain gamers protected whereas additionally making the season occur.
That the Chiefs waded by way of all that to make it again to the Super Bowl was not all that huge a shock. This was a workforce with a younger quarterback and a coach, in Andy Reid, who thinks younger. They have been loaded with offensive expertise, to say nothing of the self-discipline to navigate the ever-changing protocols that the pandemic led to.
And Tampa Bay? While many groups have been attempting to give you a solution for or clone of Mahomes, the Buccaneers went after Brady, whose long-running partnership with the Patriots and Bill Belichick lastly ran out of steam. The quarterback had been to 9 Super Bowls and received six, each data. But at 43, he wasn’t able to stop sure, the truth is, that there was nonetheless greater than a bit gasoline left within the tank.
After Brady led the Bucs to the win that took them again to their dwelling in Tampa for the Super Bowl, coach Bruce Arians mentioned there was a straightforward clarification for the resurgence of a franchise that had been all however dormant for the previous decade: It solely took one man, he mentioned.
On Sunday, that man completed with a modest 201 yards passing to go along with three touchdowns, together with two to tight finish Rob Gronkowski, the outdated New England teammate who No. 12 coaxed out of retirement for a run on the title.
It was a elegant efficiency, full of dinks and dunks and loads of assist from a Kansas City protection that imploded with eight first-half penalties, all of them essential, as Tampa Bay rolled to a 21-6 lead.
Brady earned his fifth Super Bowl MVP award.
“He has the resume, he understands the sport, mentioned working again Leonard Fournette, who joined Gronkowski among the many handful gamers who signed short-term contracts with the Bucs, discovering the lure of taking part in with Brady an excessive amount of to withstand. Hes performed in opposition to each protection you can ever throw at him.
At 25, Mahomes isn’t fairly as far alongside, however most individuals count on him to get there quickly.
On this night time, although, he didnt have a lot of an opportunity. Playing with out his beginning proper and left tackles, who have been out with accidents, Mahomes was on the run from starting to finish, by no means capable of dictate to opposing defenses, or use his velocity to create one thing out of nothing.
His receivers didnt assist. Of his 21 incompletions in 49 makes an attempt (he additionally threw two interceptions), greater than a half-dozen have been flat-out drops.
The most telling play of the night time got here on the determined finish. Running for his life, Mahomes was falling to the bottom as he side-armed a move at across the Bucs 28-yard line. The ball hit working again Darrel Williams within the palms close to the aim line. But Williams couldn’t dangle on, and the Chiefs’ last-gasp drive ended with a turnover on downs.
This was the primary time Kansas City hasn’t scored a landing within the three seasons since Mahomes took over because the starter.
The receivers have been working routes not precisely the place I assumed they have been going to be, Mahomes mentioned. The offensive line, they have been good at some occasions and generally they let guys by way of. When youre taking part in a great protection like that it’s important to be on the identical web page as an offense. We werent right now and thats why we performed so unhealthy.
Brady wasnt a lot into reflecting or dissecting or rating the place this title falls amongst his ever-growing record of championships and success. He did promise, nevertheless, that he’d be again.
We have been lucky our workforce stayed disciplined, with all of the protocols in place, and ended up getting the job carried out, he mentioned.
It was, as a lot as something, a nod to the brand new regular life with coronavirus meshing with the outdated regular Tom Brady holding a Super Bowl trophy.
Even if all of it may need appeared a bit unusual at occasions.
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