The most miraculous, unpredictable, unstable NFL season in NFL history is in the books.
I’m stunned I’m even able to write that sentence with what has occurred across the United States in 2020 and early 2021.
But, credit to all those involved, a famous Super Bowl was run and won at Raymond James Stadium in suburban Tampa and it was won by the hometown Buccaneers – a historical feat in itself.
Let’s break down the six biggest takeaways from Super Bowl LIV…
Let’s be clear – I was with the Kansas City Chiefs today but I am by no means upset to see Tom Brady win his seventh ring. Unlike friends of mine – Geelong football club playing brothers – I am not a Brady hater and after a chance meeting with the great man, I have the utmost respect for him and his accomplishments.
I mean, how can you even try to knock him!?!
He owned the back half of this season. After all the ‘turmoil’ early in the piece, the Buccaneers were unbeaten since Thanksgiving and Brady was probably the No. 1 QB in the NFL in that period.
His Super Bowl LIV performance was unlike his other Super Bowl appearances, but in a good way. He got off to a cracking beginning and at halftime had established a lead that would never be threatened.
21/29, 201 yards and a hat trick of passing touchdowns. His opposite – phenom Patrick Mahomes – could not manage a single TD.
Brady’s performance in SBLIV was historical but in truth, his performance all season was quite stunning and quite unexpected… but then again, it is Tom Brady we are talking about here.
Drop down a few paragraphs and we’ll break down just exactly what TB12 has accomplished this season. It’s truly breathtaking.
WE’LL BE BACK
Kansas City chose a bad day to have a bad day.
Had they not pulled off a comeback in last year’s Super Bowl, many would be questioning the character of this team but we know Mahomes is special and we know Andy Reid will be back, bigger and better with an armoury of offensive sets.
Tyreek Hill had 73 yards but missed on some receptions, as did Travis Kelce and a bevy of other playmakers who have been so solid for so long.
Mahomes tweeted after the game, ‘we’ll be back’, which is hard to argue with but anyone who has been to a championship game knows it is never a given you’ll ever get back.
Unless of course you are Tommy Brady.
PLAYOFF LENNY, GRONK & AB
The Buccaneers were a blend of new, old and very much unknown on the offensive side of the ball.
Rob Gronkowski returned from the wilderness – and the WWE – and at times made running look painful before unloading on KC for 2 touchdowns on six catches and 67 yards. Gronk of old returned for this Super Bowl as he claimed his fourth ring.
Leonard Fournette was sent packing from Jacksonville. Once the No. 4 overall pick and the only threat on the Jags offence, Fournette went from barely getting a snap at times this season to exploding in the playoffs and earning the nickname, ‘Playoff Lenny’.
Today, he rumbled his way to 89 rush yards, including a 27-yard score plus 46 yards in the passing game. It’s arguable he was the team’s best offensive player in SB55.
Finally, Antonio Brown. The most unlikely champion of all.
His life spiralled out of control after stints with Oakland and then New England and Brown looked more likely destined for prison than Raymond James Stadium on a sunny day in February.
On Brady’s word, Brown was brought into Tampa and gave them yet another weapon and despite missing the NFC Championship game with a knee, returned today and made an impact, scoring on a nifty route against Tyrann Mathieu, finishing the game with 5 catches for 22 and a score.
All three seemed more like a distraction than a weapon at stages this season but on the day it counted most, all three balled out and collected their silverware.
BREAK IT DOWN
Let’s just lay out exactly what Brady has accomplished since departing Foxboro…
- The 43-year-old broke his own record for a Super Bowl appearance/win.
- He joined a brand new team with brand new everything, had no off-season whatsoever and took them to the Super Bowl – after many weeks of media speculation about the fit in Tampa Bay.
- He led the Bucs to become the first ever team to play in a Super Bowl at their home stadium.
- His team did not lose since losing to these same Chiefs on November 30.
- He won his 7th ring – no NFL franchise has won more than six.
- He won his 5th Super Bowl MVP – although he stole one from James White.
And as he stood atop the mountain again, commentator Jim Nantz cheekily asked whether Brady was coming back and he immediately and authoritatively said, ‘we’re coming back’.
The on-field drama stops but the off-field drama is just about to explode.
Deshaun Watson, Sam Darnold, Stafford for Goff, Andrew Luck rumours, Matt Ryan and Julio, Zeke and Dak, Aaron Rodgers… the show goes on.
And you can bet your bottom dollar for every story we know about there will be another three that pop up from nowhere.
Kinda like Tom Brady joining Tampa Bay last off-season.
We also turn our attention to one of the more enjoyable times of the NFL calendar – the NFL Draft.
There is A LOT to play out in this space with quarterbacks scattered throughout the top few picks and a bunch of teams clamouring to get them.
Who trades up, who trades out…
In 80 days we will know all and there will be much to follow between now and then.