Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski combine for two TDs to surpass Joe Montana and Jerry Rice for the most scores by a duo in playoff history (14) and Super Bowl history (five); Patrick Mahomes suffers first loss of more than 14 points in his 54 career starts in the NFL
By David Currie
Last Updated: 08/02/21 3:38am
Tom Brady secured a seventh Super Bowl ring, extending his record, as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers blew out the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV on home soil at Raymond James Stadium.
Brady and Rob Gronkowski rolled back the years as the former New England Patriots pair connected for two first-half touchdowns, seeing them surpass Joe Montana and Jerry Rice for the most scores by a duo in playoff history (14) and Super Bowl history (five).
Brady capped a near-perfect half of football with a third scoring strike to Antonio Brown to see the Bucs up 21-6, while Leonard Fournette became the fourth Tampa Bay player not on their roster 12 months ago to find the endzone when he broke free for a 27-yard TD in the third quarter.
Brady, who completed 21 of 29 throws for 201 and three touchdowns, was named Super Bowl MVP for a record-breaking fifth time in his storied career.
Kansas City came back from a 21-10 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in last year’s Super Bowl but, this time, trailing 31-9 heading into the final period, there was to be no stirring fightback – despite the best, improvised efforts from a banged-up Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes was tormented throughout by a relentless Bucs pass rush which feasted on a makeshift Chiefs offensive line due to injury, while Tampa’s young defensive backs held up their end of the bargain.
Mahomes completed only 53 per cent of his passes – 26 of 49 for 270 yards – throwing two interceptions in the second half as he got increasingly desperate. The loss is Mahomes’ first by two scores in his 54 career starts in the NFL.
There were bad omens from the very start for Kansas City as they won the toss – ultimately extending the losing streak of those to do so to seven-straight Super Bowls. They were sluggish to start on offense, but so were the Bucs, with the two teams trading in punts on the first three series’, until a Harrison Butker field goal had the Chiefs up by three.
Brady, used to starting Super Bowls slowly, having scored a combined three first-quarter points across his nine previous appearances, finally found the endzone and his old friend Gronk with an eight-yard toss.
Tampa Bay benefitted from a couple of short punts from Tommy Townsend that helped the team add to their advantage. They were first stopped at the goal line when going for it on fourth-and-one but then, with the Chiefs backed up, Brady found Gronk again for a 17-yard score after starting their next drive in KC territory.
The Chiefs managed to add a further field goal to their score with one minute left in the first half, but that was too much time for a suddenly red-hot Tampa team to drive down the field for another touchdown, although they were helped by an increasingly ill-disciplined Kansas City team that were regularly being called for penalties.
The second-half was nothing more than a procession for the Buccaneers, as the Kansas City fightback never materialised, nor the Brady-Mahomes shootout we’d all hoped for.
Mahomes, clearly still troubled by the turf toe injury that had bothered him in the Divisional Round win over the Cleveland Browns – and taking increasingly heavy hits from the defense – tried manfully to improvise some special plays, including one gravity-defying heave early in the four quarter where he was practically mid-air, horizontal to the ground.
Sadly, the throw fell incomplete and Kansas City’s quest to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since Brady’s New England Patriots in 2003-04 disappeared with it.