Sunday evening one of the NFL’s most complicated seasons concluded in a painstakingly one-sided blowout as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV.
In a game built on the narrative of a matchup between the current “G.O.A.T.” Tom Brady and the future “G.O.A.T.” Patrick Mahomes, the two greats at times seemed to be far less important than their defensive counterparts.
That isn’t meant to be a knock on either of the two signal-callers, who both did what they could to put their team in the best position possible.
It feels weird to write that the Super Bowl MVP wasn’t the most important player on the field but Brady’s 201-yard night was nothing to write home about. Brady did what he had to do: he played a clean game of football throwing for three touchdowns and never turned the ball over.
But it was the Chiefs defense who gifted the Buccaneers the win, committing unnecessary fouls across the field – a total of 11 penalties for 120 yards – to extend drives, leading to Buccaneers scores that proved to be the difference.
And, yes, we could sit down and debate whether each penalty was the right call, but frankly, what’s the need? The Chiefs secondary has been known to get a little handsy in coverage, and on the biggest stage, it was finally punished.
Regardless of how the game was officiated, the Chiefs let Patrick Mahomes down and were responsible for their own shortcomings.
Kansas City’s lack of an offensive line was astonishing and injuries did play a factor, but that isn’t a viable excuse. Mahomes was constantly pushed back into no man’s land and forced to either throw the ball away, eat a sack or attempt some sort of miraculous throw that would inevitably be dropped by his receiver anyways.
It’s a shame the game ended up this way and wasn't the thriller it was marketed as, but that’s football. You can never know who's going to show up on Sunday.
Give credit where credit is due. Bruce Arians, Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles outcoached the Chiefs through every facet of the game, ultimately leading to a Buccaneers victory.
NFL season in review: Los Angeles Edition
For a pair of teams who have experienced some pretty dark days, including losing seasons and relocation over the recent years, the 2020 NFL season ended with a more optimistic outlook for the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.
The Rams would have obviously been more inclined to consider 2020 a great season had it progressed deeper into the playoffs, but honestly, it didn’t need to. Winning means a lot for any team, but what the Rams did this year deserves praise.
The team battled in one of the toughest divisions in the league, and what should continue being tough once San Francisco recovers from injuries.
That sole playoff victory over Seattle meant everything to the Rams, there was bad blood between the division rivals that affected the players personally.
What’s most notable about that playoff victory and the season in general, is that it came amid a pretty public quarterback controversy. Sean McVay sat his veteran quarterback Jared Goff for an unproven AAF player in John Wolford during the playoffs. Just to let that sink in.
There should have been no surprise when the Rams made the first of what could be many high profile moves involving quarterbacks this offseason, acquiring Matthew Stafford from the Lions in a trade that sent Goff and draft picks the other way.
It has to sting for Goff, who had spent his entire life playing football in California, but the relationship between him and McVay had soured.
Now the Rams have a quarterback in Stafford who they are fully backing. He has a legitimate defense and offense behind him for really the first time in his career. Stafford’s name often gets thrown around towards the middle of the pack in terms of quarterback ranking, but that’s a little harsh. He offers almost everything a coach can ask for and doesn’t know how to quit. The situation he was forced into in Detroit just never allowed his true ability to shine.
Next season feels like a win-now-or-bust scenario for the Rams, but they have steered themselves into one of the best possible positions to realize their goal.
In a different situation than the Rams for sure is the Los Angeles Chargers, which started the year with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Obviously, that didn’t last long for what at the time was a surprising and frightening injury.
That injury however allowed Justin Herbert to step up and take the reins of the Chargers offense, and he never looked back.
Herbert had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history and collected Rookie of the Year honors, breaking multiple records along the way.
There were scouts and people in the media who had doubts about Herbert at the draft. He was being called an imperfect quarterback who was too much of a risk to be taken sixth overall by some. The Chargers, however, saw the glaringly obvious athletic ability in Herbert and took him, with plans to initially have him backup Taylor, and be given some time before being handed the starting job.
None of that matters though now. The Chargers have their quarterback and will now build around him, as they look to fully begin the Herbert era with a new coach at the helm in 2021.