Super Bowl LV: A Disappointing End to a Historic Season

Miles Mann, Sentry Reporter

By all accounts, Super Bowl LV should have been one of the great games of the modern football era. It was a game that was to put an end to prominent discussions: the place of Tom Brady in the post-Patriots era and the staying power of Patrick Mahomes following his meteoric rise to fame. Most importantly, the game was to be a test of whether it was time for the baton to be passed from the former to the latter. When Sunday rolled around, however, fans were subjected to a one-sided beatdown of Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tom Brady has been making waves for decades, breaking records almost constantly and proving without a shadow of a doubt that he dominates any debate regarding the greatest quarterback of all time. It was Brady who won the NFL championship for the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005, the last time consecutive titles had been won to date and the achievement that the Chiefs were attempting to earn this year. Heading into Super Bowl LV, however, he was not the only titan on the field. 

Patrick Mahomes is far more than a man with a good arm. Throughout his fourth season in the NFL and with the Chiefs, talk abounded of the young quarterback seemingly destined to be the next Brady. With these kinds of bold predictions being tossed around, it seemed only right that they should come to a head at the biggest televised event in the nation, the veteran legend facing off against the rising gunslinger.

With this level of hype surrounding the opposing quarterbacks, the Chiefs’ lackluster performance was attributed by many to Mahomes himself. In reality, Mahomes was the only member of his team (aside from perhaps his kicker) that saved Kansas City from a complete shutout. Even with almost no protection from his offensive line, he was able to advance the ball and hold his team back from the precipice of defeat for as long as he could. 

Even with the solid performance that Mahomes delivered on Sunday, no one player is enough to turn the tide of a game themselves, and the rest of the Chiefs made this painfully obvious. The offensive line seemed utterly incapable of stopping the Bucs’ rush, forcing their quarterback to evade and cede precious yardage when it should have been unnecessary. If Mahomes had proper protection, the entire game could have been turned around.

The atrocious gameplay exhibited by Kansas City’s offensive line, however, was not just the unfortunate product of a game day slump. There were a staggering four offensive linemen absent on Sunday, mostly due to injury. The resulting reshuffle left the Chiefs with a confounding mix of out-of-position players and backups to man their line, with only a single early-season starter playing his preferred position. Disappointing though it may be, it is not all that surprising that the Chiefs’ offense performed as they did.

If the failure of the offensive line was the first nail in the Chiefs’ coffin, their defense took the shovel and buried it. The Bucs played perfectly into the imperfections in their opponents’ mentality, leading them to play as if the winner of the game was whoever looked tougher. As penalty after penalty stacked up against the defending champs, it became clear that the failings of the defense would spell the end for the team.

With a poorly performing defense, the last thing in the world one wants to face is the Buccaneers’ star-studded offensive cast. With Brady at the helm throwing three touchdown passes in the first half alone, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski became deadly weapons, outpacing the Chiefs at every turn and ensuring that there was no room for lax coverage. The real deciding player, however, was Leonard Fournette, a running back drawing some buzz for his postseason stats. It was with his electrifying performance that the Buccaneers shut the door on the Chiefs’ championship aspirations.

The game’s result cannot be attributed solely to Kansas City’s ineptitude, but it took what would have been a hard-fought battle and turned it into a boring, dismal slog. A game perfectly poised to usher in a new football dynasty fell apart dramatically, becoming one of the most disappointing and flat events in recent football history. The game was a letdown not only to fans of the Chiefs but also to fans of football in general.