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Fifty-five: Match up of the century

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers emerged victorious Feb 7, Super Bowl weekend. The clock ran out on the Kansas City Chiefs as the Tampa Bay scoreboard intimidatingly illuminated the results. After the 31-9 win, Brady’s former team was one of the first to tweet congratulations. The New England Patriots sent out a message of congratulations to the “G.O.A.T.” and a direct warning toward Brady’s running mate, Rob Gronkowski.  “And Gronk, be careful with that trophy…”

If you’re confused by this statement, it’s important to recall an incident from 2019 where Gronkowski dented the team’s sixth Lombardi Trophy after he used it to bunt a baseball before the team’s Super Bowl LIII celebration at Fenway Park. 

Brady and Gronkowski made a little bit of history Sunday, passing the legendary Joe Montana and Jerry Rice for the most playoff touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver duo.

Throughout the 20 years of Brady’s career, he has won six Super Bowls out of the nine he appeared in. Making him the winner of the most Super Bowl championships than any singular team. Together, Gronk and Brady have won the last three of those championships. 

The 43-year-old quarterback has set countless records, such as being named the Super Bowl LV MVP for the fifth time. He also became the first quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl with teams in both conferences —he won the Lombardi Trophy with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. 

While Brady and the Buccaneers were celebrating their numerous accomplishments, the Kansas City Chiefs fell short that night. The Chiefs failed to become back-to-back Super Bowl champions as their season ended. They finished the season with 16 wins and three losses suffering from the possible “Super Bowl runner-up curse” heading into the offseason.  While some call it a hangover, others a curse, it marks impending doom for the NFL runner-up. This “curse” is 48 years in the making, resulting from three of the last five Super Bowl runners-up having missed the playoffs. In those 48 years, only one team has gone from losing the Super Bowl to winning it the following season. 

Super Bowl LV made up the matchup of the century; Tom Brady against the current best quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Sadly for the Chiefs, the victory wasn’t written in the stars. Mahomes did his best to leave it all on the field despite his injury. He has been nursing a turf toe ailment that was suffered from the American Football Conference title game against the Buffalo Bills. It began to seem evident that he wasn’t 100 percent playing against the Bucs. 

Mahomes abnormally failed through a mix of critical drops by targets, poor offensive line play and of course, his injury. The fact he was without his starting tackles seems to exacerbate his foot. 

The reason the Chiefs were without their best offensive lineman: right tackle Mitchell Schwartz,  out of the game because of a back injury, they also lost their blind-side protector Eric Fisher, who tore his Achilles in the AFC Championship Game. The end result: Mahomes being sacked three times and the Buccaneers hitting him eight.

Mahomes is reportedly going to undergo surgery to repair the injury, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Assuming a traditional offseason, Mahomes’ recovery will likely sideline him from minicamp and training camp but is expected to make a full recovery in time for Week 1. Despite his injury Mahomes ran for nearly 500 yards before throws or sacks in the game. His 52.3 passer rating was by far the lowest of his NFL career and he had no touchdowns, and two interceptions against Tampa Bay’s defense. 

Super Bowl LV brought the worst Expected Points Added numbers of Patrick Mahomes’ career, but looking at Pro-Football Focus, a website that focuses on a thorough analysis of the Division-I football in the United States, they gave Tom Brady a 66.9 grade and Mahomes a 65.8 grade. These quarterbacks played relatively even, the main difference was the support their teammates provided them. The Chiefs allowing 30 pressures and dropped three of his passes, while Brady was greatly supported with four pressures allowed and zero dropped passes.

Although the Chiefs didn’t finish the season in success, there’s always a chance that they’ll bounce back to fight again. Their head coach Andy Reid said in an interview with Forbes Magazine, stating that he blamed himself for not putting them in a better position. 

 “It was a bad day,” Reid said, “to have a bad day.”