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Bucs Run Away With Super Bowl

Mill Woods

Posted on February 8, 2021 07:18

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In my pre-game report, I made the comment: "The team that kicks the most field goals is likely to lose". Imagine my chagrin as I watched the Chiefs settle for three field goals, while the Bucs scored TDs. But that was far from all that the Chiefs' coaches did wrong. Super Bowl 55 proved that a very good team can be blown out if major mistakes are made by coaches.

Almost everyone thought we'd see a classic Super Bowl cliffhanger, and I always cheer for a good, competitive game, being mostly agnostic about the two teams. In recent years, the NFL had scored a succession of exciting contests, but that streak came to a screeching halt on Sunday.

Although I went with the Chiefs, I expressed my admiration for both teams, and I predicted a close chess match. I congratulate the Bucs on a great win, but I must also report the major failures I saw by the Chiefs.

Now, some say that the exploits of Tom Terrific — combined with that stifling Tampa D — were just too dominant.  Some comment that Patrick Mahomes had an off day, and others say the Chiefs' players committed too many penalties. While all of those comments are true, there is a better explanation for the blowout: the Bucs' coaches outcoached their opponents.

When the Chiefs settled for field goals early, I believe they could have converted on at least two of the three fourth downs — if they had called plays targeted to get a chunk of the needed yardage on third down, but not all. For example: on a third and long, they could have targeted getting five yards or so, and then attempted to get the rest on fourth down. But they tried to get it all and more on third down, and that strategy usually ends in an incompletion. That is why the Chiefs ended up kicking field goals instead of extending drives and scoring TDs.

Besides settling for field goals early in the game, the Chiefs' coaches failed to counter those aggressive Buccaneer defensive plays. As I expected, DC Todd Bowles sent the dogs after Mahomes. What I did not expect was Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy having zero answers for the pressure. The Chiefs ran very few screens or draws to counter blitzing; they relied on Mahomes' scrambling ability. I can't recall the Chiefs running a single screen play.

And the Chiefs' play-calling was equally as bad on the other side of the ball — defense. The Chiefs declined to "return the favor" by blitzing Tom Brady as often as the Bucs blitzed Mahomes. Now, the Chiefs are not known for blitzing, but I commented in my pre-game article that I thought the Chiefs might want to increase the blitzing for this one game. But the Chiefs played it safe, and Brady was hardly touched all evening.

I also mentioned my interest in how the coaches would use their safeties. The Bucs kept theirs back, blitzing linebackers instead, and sometimes, they got sufficient pass pressure from just the defensive line. The Tampa defenders did an excellent job of surrounding Tyreek Hill. Mahomes did a poor job of finding other wide receivers, and the occasional big play to Travis Kelce was simply not enough.

The Bucs became the first team to win a home Super Bowl. The Chiefs? It will take a while to recover from the hangover.

Mill Woods

Posted on February 8, 2021 07:18

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