The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are Super Bowl champions, and because they are, NFL history needs revision.
Tom Brady makes the system. The system doesn’t make Tom Brady.
After Brady’s latest triumph — a thorough thumping of the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, in Super Bowl 55 — there can be no doubt that he’s the best to ever put on a uniform.
“Tom Brady is the greatest of all time,” Tony Romo said on the CBS broadcast, and good luck to anyone who dares argue.
He’ll own every major record for a quarterback when he retires.
Sunday wasn’t just his seventh Super Bowl championship — an absurd and unmatched figure — it was his easiest.
All of the previous six were decided by 10 points or less.
All were in doubt in the fourth quarter.
But Sunday was different.
The Buccaneers were clearly the best team from early on.
They were relentless on defense. They were opportunistic on offense. And they were poised.
In short, they played like the New England Patriots of the past two decades.
Bill Belichick will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer because of his unmatched success.
But this year proved just how much of that success was owed to the now 43-year-old quarterback out of Michigan.
Danny Amendola made waves in Boston last week when he correctly pointed out: “When you see the ‘Patriot Way’ in the dictionary, it’s gonna have Tom Brady’s name next to it. None of those coaches threw any passes. None of those coaches caught any passes. None of those coaches made any tackles. They got guys in the right position because they watched a lot of film and they spent all their time at the facility.
“But Tom Brady is the ‘Patriot Way,’ and that’s the reason why Tom Brady’s in the Super Bowl right now and the Patriots aren’t.”
The Patriots fell apart this year when Brady left in free agency.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, went from a 7-9 team to world champions. They’ve won 75 percent of their games with Brady under center after winning 17 games total the previous three years.
“My father had an expression, if you want to know the road ahead, ask the person who’s been there,” said Buccaneers chairman Joel Glazer. “We found that person. Ten Super Bowl appearances, seven victories. Tom Brady.”
Brady was a worthy game MVP, completing 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three scores.
But before we go any further, let’s get this on the record:
He had a ton of help Sunday, like he’s had in his six previous titles.
Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles called a masterful game, holding all-world quarterback Patrick Mahomes to arguably his worst game as a pro.
Before Sunday, Mahomes had never lost by double digits. The Chiefs’ offense ranked second in yards per play (6.4) and fifth in scoring offense (29.6) during the regular season.
But without three of their five best offensive linemen — Kelechi Osemele, Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher — the Chiefs couldn’t do anything offensively.
Mahomes, playing on a gimpy foot, completed just 26 of 49 passes for 270 yards, two interceptions and zero touchdowns.
The Buccaneers’ defensive front set the tone.
Tampa Bay might have won Sunday even if Brady was pedestrian.
But he was far from that. Brady at 43 was as good as he was at 33 in the first half, completing 80 percent of his passes, averaging 7 yards an attempt and connecting on three touchdown passes — two to Rob Gronkowski, and the third to Antonio Brown just before the break.
That combination — 80 percent completions and three passing TDs in a half — had never occurred before in the 55-year history of this game.
The Chiefs not only were bad on offense, they were sloppy in all three phases. A series of special teams gaffes, including when Antonio Hamilton lined up offsides on a fourth-and-5 field-goal attempt, basically gifted Tampa Bay four points.
The Chiefs committed eight penalties for 95 yards in the first half alone — a Super Bowl record.
While Tampa Bay’s front four didn’t get to Mahomes in the first half, it hurried him three times and two of Devin White’s five tackles were for loss. Mahomes averaged a mere 3.5 yards per pass before intermission.
The second half was more of the same. A potential classic fizzled out quickly.
And Brady, again, ended the evening with the Lombardi Trophy in his grasp.
Afterwards, he refused to play the comparison game. But he did level a warning to the rest of the league that should be taken seriously:
“We’re coming back.”
Story by Adam H. Beasley, Miami Herald.