News & Analysis

Super Bowl 55 PFF Refocused: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Kansas City Chiefs 9

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The one thing nobody expected to happen in Super Bowl 55 was the thing that came to pass, as Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stomped Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on the way to Brady’s seventh Super Bowl ring.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story Of The Game

Brady was efficient on offense, and the Bucs did put up 31 points, but the story of this game was the job that Todd Bowles and the Tampa Bay defense did against Mahomes and the Chiefs, a team that had torched them the last time they met back in Week 12.

The Chiefs may have outgained the Bucs and accounted for over 360 yards on offense, but so much of that came with the game effectively dead and buried with Mahomes trying just to put one score on the board to spark the comeback that never began.

Tampa Bay’s defensive game plan was outstanding. They solved the problem of how to neutralize the threat of Tyreek Hill and still get after Mahomes and put him under pressure, aided by the collapse from the Chiefs' offensive line given the reshuffles they were forced into.

Mahomes was under pressure on 27 of his 56 dropbacks (48%), and that’s a volume that even superstars like Mahomes can’t consistently overcome, especially when it’s paired with a near-permanent alignment of multiple deep safeties to take away the big play.

Brady was barely touched on the other side of the ball, and the Super Bowl became just another game in which his offensive line did a fantastic job of keeping him protected and able to execute. 

It wasn't just Brady who wasn’t yet prepared to hand the title of G.O.A.T. to his natural successor in Mahomes, but it was also a game of rolling back the years for Rob Gronkowski, who showed that he can still make big plays on the biggest stage just like Travis Kelce. Gronk caught six of the seven passes thrown his way, gaining more than half of his yards after the catch and scoring twice.

For Kelce’s part, he was the only receiver on the Chiefs who was any kind of factor. He saw a massive 15 targets, catching 10 of them for 133 yards and moving the chains six times. The issue was again how much of that came with the game already dead and buried.

For all the magic that Mahomes was capable of, he showed that even he isn’t immune to the effects of an offensive line just completely overmatched. And even when it wasn’t an issue on plays, he acted as if it was, flinching from phantom pressure in addition to the real pressure that was just around the corner.

Rookie Watch

Buccaneers right tackle Tristan Wirfs has been a rock for Tom Brady and the offense all season long, and he continued that in the Super Bowl, grading well once more. Wirfs allowed just one hurry across 30 pass-blocking snaps and run blocked well.

Antoine Winfield Jr. was a big part of that Buccaneers secondary that kept Tyreek Hill under wraps and underneath. Still, his most memorable play may be getting flagged for taunting by throwing up the deuces to Hill after an incomplete pass saw the ball turned over on downs.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire played 31 snaps and was solid for the Chiefs, but he accounted for just five first downs all game as the entire Chiefs offense was held to its lowest total with Mahomes at quarterback.

On defense, L’Jarius Sneed had been a star during his rookie season, but he didn’t have his best game in the Super Bowl, coughing up a catch every time the ball came into his coverage for a total of 40 yards and a score. Sneed was only sent on the blitz one time, something that had become a feature in recent weeks, but he came up empty-handed in terms of pressure.

Tershawn Wharton played 30 snaps, rushing the passer 15 times, and he came up just as empty-handed as Sneed did with the Tampa Bay offensive line just controlling the line of scrimmage all game. Edge rusher Michael Danna played 18 snaps but had little effect overall.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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