The Super Bowl matchup is now set, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to prevent the Kansas City Chiefs from becoming the first repeat champions since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. Mahomes and Brady will square off yet again, this time in the biggest stage the game can provide. Let’s take a look at how they got to this point by reviewing the action from the two Championship Round games.
(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 31 vs (1) Green Bay Packers – 26
It turns out it didn’t matter where the NFC Championship game was hosted, as the Packers still managed to fall just short of reaching the Super Bowl. Despite the Buccaneers best attempts to hand the Packers the game, they were unable to pull out a victory, and Aaron Rodgers Championship Game woes continue.
The Packers really can only blame themselves after this loss. Aside from Brady turning an Aaron Jones fumble into a quick touchdown to start the second half, it was all Packers afterwards, as they chipped away at a 28-10 deficit. The Packers ended up winning the turnover battle due to Brady throwing interceptions on three straight drives, but only managed to put up 6 points off of them. The Buccaneers turned Jones fumble and an Aaron Rodgers interception into 14 points on the other hand. The Packers had the ball twice down by only five points, but both of those drives ended up being three-and-outs.
This wasn’t the only problem the Packers faced. The sure-handed Davante Adams dropped a would-be touchdown in the end zone, and the Packers were forced to settle for a field goal on the drive. Equanimeous St. Brown dropped a two-point conversion attempt that would have turned the previously mentioned five point deficit to a three point deficit. Allen Lazard turned around about a half-second too late, and ended up watching a touchdown, and a chance to tie the game, go flying by him. These are huge points left on the board by the Packers, and probably cost them the game.
Despite the loss, Aaron Rodgers can’t really be faulted in this one. Despite a costly interception, he willed the Packers back into the game, as he threw for 348 yards and 3 scores. He didn’t get much help from the run game, which was due to a combination of them falling behind so early, and Aaron Jones picking up an injury in the third quarter. Rodgers was constantly under siege throughout the afternoon, as he was sacked 5 times in this one. Rodgers needed some help to make it back to the Super Bowl, but he didn’t receive much yesterday.
On the other hand, Tom Brady did. Despite throwing three picks in the second half, the 18 point lead the Bucs built up proved to be just enough. While the run game struggled for much of the afternoon, Brady got a huge 20 yard touchdown from Leonard Fournette in the first half. That was pretty much all the Bucs got on the ground, but it was enough to help out Brady.
Tampa’s defense also had some huge stops late in the game that saved the game for the Bucs. Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for all five sacks the Bucs had, and Devin White had another monster game, picking up 15 tackles and a fumble recovery. Whereas the Packers defense, primarily cornerback Kevin King, struggled through the afternoon, the Bucs had a pretty good outing defensively. Sure they allowed the Packers to make it a game, but Brady’s three picks didn’t make things any easier for them. They came through when it mattered the most, and played a big part in getting the Bucs back to the Super Bowl.
This game was a case of one team playing up to it’s potential, and one team relying solely on their quarterback. The Packers wasted another year of Aaron Rodgers career, and remains on his quest to find his way to the Super Bowl for the second time in his career. As for Brady, he makes it to the Super Bowl for the tenth time of his storied career. He wanted to prove that he could do it without legendary coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, and he did. However, his toughest task lays ahead in the Kansas City Chiefs, and despite the win in this game, the Bucs are going to have to play much better against the Chiefs if they want to come away with their first Super Bowl win since 2002.
(2) Buffalo Bills – 24 vs (1) Kansas City Chiefs – 38
It always felt like it would be more surprising to not see Mahomes and the Chiefs back in the Super Bowl this season. After squeaking by the Browns, in part to Mahomes having to leave the contest, the Chiefs came out and dominated against the Bills. The Bills took an early 9-0 lead, and then it was all Chiefs. The score makes the game look closer than it really was, as the Bills got 9 garbage time points late in the fourth quarter.
This was expected to be a shootout, but the Chiefs spoiled that storyline by making Josh Allen’s day a nightmare. Allen was either holding onto the ball for ridiculous amounts of time, or running for his life because the Chiefs pass rush overwhelmed him. Allen was only sacked four times, but somehow managed to lose 53 yards on those sacks. Allen has rapidly developed over this past season, but he showcased that he still lacks experience in this game.
Despite that, Allen still managed to post a relatively competitive statline. He threw for 287 yards and 2 scores, while also picking up 88 yards on the ground. If this postseason has showed the Bills anything, it’s that they need to invest in the running back position. Devin Singletary has contributed pretty much nothing to this team since the regular season, and if the Bills could establish any sort of credibility, it will help their offense out in numerous ways.
The Chiefs didn’t get much help from their ground game, but they have Patrick Mahomes to offset that lack of production. Clyde Edwards-Helaire carried 6 times for 7 yards, but still managed to find the endzone somehow. Darrell Williams managed to do most of the work, with 13 carries, 52 yards, and a score. Mecole Hardman padded the numbers by taking an end around 50 yards down the field, but the rushing attack did little to threaten.
Truthfully, the Chiefs didn’t need much help on the ground, as the three-headed monster of Patrick Mahomes/Tyreek Hill/Travis Kelce completely dominated this game. Hill and Kelce had 290 of Mahomes 325 passing yards (Hill 172 Kelce 118), as the Bills just had no answer for them. Hill in particular ran riot on the Bills defense in the second half, as his speed is just unmatched in the NFL. Kelce did work in the red zone, hauling in two of Mahomes three touchdown passes, and the Bills just had no answer. The Bills locked these two down the last time they played, but they had absolutely no answer for them this time around.
So, after avoiding an injury scare for Mahomes, the Chiefs roll back to the Super Bowl. Mahomes will go up against Brady for the fifth time in his young career, and has split the past four games with the legendary shot caller. The Bucs defense has looked to be in peak form this postseason, but Mahomes and Hill absolutely torched the Bucs earlier this season. This game could turn into an absolute shootout, but even it does, Mahomes is well equipped to lead the Chiefs back to their second Super Bowl win in a row.
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