Unsung heroes

Tampa Bay defense comes up big in Super Bowl win


Photo via Wikimedia Commons (All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA - Second_Photos_42) under CC BY-SA 2.0

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David waits for the upcoming snap during the team’s 31-23 wild card game win against the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field on Jan. 9. Last night, David and the Buccaneers successfully shut down the Kansas City Chiefs and their offense to win Super Bowl LV, 31-9. Kansas City did not score a single touchdown throughout the Super Bowl, the first time the team did not score a touchdown in a game since quarterback Patrick Mahomes took control under center. On top of six tackles, David helped contain Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, limiting Kansas City’s most productive receiver to 10 receptions and 133 yards.

There is a reason why several people say, “Defense wins championships.” Last night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went up against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and their high-flying offense in Super Bowl LV. When it was said and done, the Buccaneers embarrassed Kansas City’s offense in a 31-9 blowout win.

The silver lining was that Tampa Bay boasted one of, if not the, best front sevens in the entire league.

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

In week 12, these two teams faced off for the first time. The high-powered Chiefs offense ended up being too much for the Buccaneers’ young secondary to handle, leading to a 27-24 loss. From that point, Tampa Bay took their bye week, and never looked back.

They went from being frustratingly inconsistent to finding their groove, this applies to the defense and how they played in the postseason. They shut down mighty offenses in the Saints and the Packers to let their offense fly and punch their ticket for a home-field Super Bowl.

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles had his work cut out for him if the Bucs wanted to win their second Super Bowl in franchise history. The objective was simple — ground Kansas City’s offense. The biggest challenge ahead of him was getting the young secondary that struggled in their first matchup to take down the opposing weapons in wideout Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

Kansas City in general boasted a game-breaking passing offense under quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The silver lining was that Tampa Bay boasted one of, if not the, best front sevens in the entire league. Combined with the fact that the Chiefs’ two starting tackles were out due to injury, they had what they needed to give Mahomes trouble all game long.

Many expected Super Bowl LV to be a shootout spectacular, with Mahomes and Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady pulling out all the stops. That is not the game that transpired. What spectators saw was a one-sided beatdown in which not only did the Buccaneers’ offense utilize every ounce of their talent, but the defense played better than anybody could have expected.

The Chiefs were smothered play after play, and the Tampa Bay defense played like a hurricane force.

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

Priority one was shutting down the passing game. Bowles orchestrated a simple yet effective plan to get his defense in a winning position. He made small adjustments. He focused on getting his front seven to provide enough pressure up front and allow his safeties to go deep to cover the speed advantage the Chiefs had, particularly with Hill.

Every target for Mahomes was covered. Whether it be the secondary playing outstanding man-coverage, or linebacker Lavonte David handling Kelce, leaving Kansas City’s most effective weapon minimally effective. Mahomes ended up having the worst game of his career, 26-for-49 for 270 yards and two interceptions. The only time in his career where his offense did not score.

Tampa Bay’s front seven cannot be understated. Name any one of their pass rushers. Whether it is defensive ends Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul, or linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Devin White, Mahomes was relegated to running for his life play after play.

The Buccaneers did not rely on the blitz against the Chiefs, which has been a staple for them. Most of their plays they chose to roll with the typical four man rush. Regardless, it worked and their execution was beyond effective.

The Chiefs were smothered play after play, and the Tampa Bay defense played like a hurricane force. Their pass rush provided a foundation for a shutdown defense that made Kansas City’s typical offense look like a fantasy.

All the scheming and execution paid off, as they steamrolled the Chiefs to claim the title of Super Bowl champions. Yes, this also is monumental for Brady as well. With this win he has risen to sports immortality and is undoubtedly the greatest quarterback of all time, bar none. Even so, this was a team effort, and this was the best spot for him to win from the very start.

Not just the offensive weapons around him, but the defense under Bowles had the pieces they needed to be great. In the Super Bowl, Bowles coached a fantastic game for his defense. They shattered expectations and went from a strong defense, to an elite defense in the one game it mattered the most.

Super Bowl LV was ultimately going to come down to defense. In this regard, the Chiefs crumbled against a Buccaneers offense that was simply too much. On the other hand, Tampa Bay played above and beyond expectations to dominate in one of the most respectable defensive showcases in a long time.