Originally published in La Plaza Press
By ARIANA GHALAMBOR and DANIEL WATERS
Kicking off the 55th Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fans are watching across the world, regardless of the pandemic. This game will be monumental to many sports fans and football enthusiasts alike because it’s the first time a team will be playing in its home stadium for the Super Bowl.
Players you should definitely know about:
Tom Brady, quarterback of the Tampa Bay team, who is 43 years old (which is normal in human years but considered ancient in football years) will be participating in his 10th Superbowl (of the nine thus far, he has won six of them). Youth will be played by Patrick Mahomes, the 25 year old quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. Mahomes is also known for State Farm commercials. However, Tom Brady is far from the only Patriot to step up in the Super Bowl. Other significant players include Rob Gronkowski, USA Today reports that, “The Patriots offense was great in Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles, and Rob Gronkowski was the brightest star besides Brady. The veteran tight end tallied a team-high nine receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns, including a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. It was one of the best playoff performances of Gronkowski’s career.” Gronkowski will surely be a problem for Kansas City in the Superbowl tonight because of his previous performances in big games. Besides the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chiefs also have very important players alike, the NFL’s Kansas City writes that, “No Chiefs player’s stock has improved more than [Darrel Williams’] over the past few weeks. He filled in admirably for Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell and figures to play an important role for the Chiefs again on Sunday. He’s the most physical of their backs, and that quality will be needed to provide additional protection for Mahomes against the Bucs’ stout pass rush. Williams is a big-play back, the likely choice if the Chiefs go power in short-yardage situations.” This is important to keep in mind while watching the game because the Kansas City Chiefs still have a chance against the talented and well renowned Tampa Bay team.
Who’s going to win?
As of right now, many people favor the Kansas City Chiefs. Even the New York Times claims that, “No one has won more Super Bowls than Tom Brady, but in a high-scoring game, Patrick Mahomes has a slight advantage. Speed is everywhere on Kansas City’s offense — Mahomes, Kelce and Hill have it, too — and the rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire added a threat to the running game that had been expected to be missing when Damien Williams opted out of the season. Considering Kansas City’s tendency to play its best when it is challenged most, this game seems to tilt in the Chiefs’ favor, with the biggest caveat being the team’s poor health on its offensive line.”
The half-time show everyone has been waiting for:
The Weeknd will be headlining the halftime show, and there’s all kinds of speculation over what the vibe of the event will be. After all, the stadium will have only about 25,000 people in it thanks to the pandemic, so there probably won’t be any screaming or carrying on like one would expect in a typical halftime show.
How the pandemic has affected the Super bowl:
This year’s Super Bowl will be unlike any other in history as it falls in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has gripped the nation for nearly a year and caused the NFL to adapt its procedures and health protocols throughout the season. After significant changes to its offseason program and the cancellation of the preseason, the league managed to pull off a full regular season and allow limited fan attendance at most games. For its biggest spectacle of the year, the NFL talked with the CDC, the Florida Department of Health and Tampa area hospitals and health care systems about hosting fans in a safe and responsible way for Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. A total of 22,000 fans will attend the game, with 7,500 of those being health care workers invited as guests of the league to honor their service during the pandemic. All health care workers in attendance will be vaccinated and the majority of the group will come from hospitals and health care systems in the Tampa and central Florida area. 14,000 spectators will have been winners of a lottery to watch the Super Bowl live.
Game notes and recap:
First quarter scoring: 7-3 TB
There were three punts to start, then a 49 yard field goal from Kansas City. Then, Brady threw an 8-yard TD pass to Gronkowski (first TD pass that Brady has ever had in the first quarter of his ten SB appearances).
Second quarter scoring: 14-3 TB
Kansas City punted, then Tampa Bay turned the ball over on downs at Kansas City’s goal line. It led to another KC punt of 29 yards, which would have led to a 40 yard TB field goal, but the Chiefs lined up offsides, so it gave Tampa Bay a first down, leading to an instant 17 yard touchdown from Brady to Gronkowski, their second thus far. Kansas City responded with a drive ending in a 34 yard field goal led by Kelce (4 catches, 41 yards on drive). Just before halftime, Brady threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, mainly because of two pass interference penalties drawn by Mike Evans combining for 42 yards.
Halftime score: 21-6 TB
Tampa Bay’s offense was prolific, aided by several mental errors from Kansas City (8 penalties and 95 penalty yards in the first half). Brady was unstoppable, completing sixteen of his twenty passes and throwing three touchdowns. Tampa Bay’s defense did a superb job of limiting Kansas City’s league leading offense, holding them to six points and 124 total yards in the first half. Also, the halftime show was easily one of the best ever. The Weeknd performed with the fervor that one would expect after he was blacklisted from the Grammys for accepting the offer to headline the Super Bowl halftime show.
Third quarter scoring: 10-3 TB
Kansas City came out of the second half with their most energy thus far, led by two runs for 36 yards from Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It ended in a 52 yard field goal. Tampa Bay responded with a quick touchdown drive capped off by a 27 yard run from Leonard Fournette. The next drive, Antoine Winfield created the first turnover of the game as he intercepted a tipped pass from Patrick Mahomes. The Buccaneers offense earned three points off of the interception, kicking a 52 yard field goal.
End of third quarter score: 31-9 TB
Fourth quarter scoring: 0-0
After the field goal, the Chiefs failed to convert on a fourth down try in the Buccaneers’ redzone, effectively ending the game as Tampa Bay had possession of the football and a 22 point lead with 13:32 left on the game clock. Following the Chiefs’ failed conversion, the most exciting plays of the night were when a streaker ran onto the field and when Devin White intercepted Patrick Mahomes in Tampa Bay’s endzone to seal the victory. Following the opening drive field goal for Kansas City, the wheels fell off of their offensive line. Mahomes took a couple big hits and was consistently forced to scramble for several seconds at a time.
Final score: 31-9 TB
The largest contributors to Tampa Bay’s victory were undoubtedly their defensive line and their efficiency on offense. The Buccaneers’ defensive line versus the Chiefs’ offensive line was a gigantic mismatch, being the primary reason why Kansas City scored only nine points. On the other side, the Buccaneers’ offense was admittedly helped by the stellar play of the defense, but they also performed about as well as they could have. They forced several penalties from the Kansas City defense and consistently took advantage of the Chiefs’ mistakes on the way to scoring 31 points in three quarters.