Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl, 31-9, on Sunday night as he powered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs in a game staged in the shadow of a deadly pandemic and a nation roiled by political and racial division.
Brady, 43, outplayed his much younger counterpart, Patrick Mahomes, to deliver his first title to the Buccaneers, who signed Brady to a two-year deal in the off-season after he spent two decades with the New England Patriots.
The title was the second in Tampa Bay’s history, and Brady and his offense scored 30 or more points in all four of their playoff games.
The Buccaneers, the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium, leaned on two other newcomers to the team as well. The tight end Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdowns and Leonard Fournette had a rushing scoreand 89 yards. Fournette, who was let go by the Jacksonville Jaguars before this season, had four touchdowns in the playoffs. The Chiefs, who were trying to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Patriots did it in 2003 and 2004, never got their high-powered offense going. The Buccaneers blanketed Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs’ speedy top receiver, and Mahomes, 25, played on an injured toe and without two starting offensive tackles. He was forced to scramble all night.
The double-digit defeat was the first in Mahomes’ short but brilliant career. He ended the game 26 for 49 passing and 270 yards with two interceptions. Several of his passes were dropped or hit receivers in the face mask.
Brady, who led the Buccaneers to victories in Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay in the playoffs, was ruthlessly efficient. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Gronkowski caught six passes for 67 yards.
The Buccaneers’ defense was even more impressive. Its front line of Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh feasted on the Chiefs’ backup offensive tackles and pressured Mahomes throughout the night.
The Chiefs were forced to settle for field goals as the Buccaneers scored touchdowns.
The possibility of a Buccaneers’ championship seemed dim in November, when they dropped three out of four games and fell to 7-5. Brady appeared out of sync with his receivers.
But the Bucs won when it counted, claiming the last four games of the regular season to finish 11-5 and winning four more times in the postseason. Brady found his rhythm with his receivers and Gronkowski, who came out of retirement to rejoin Brady after their years together in New England.