In the Tampa Bay Bucs’ 31-9 Super Bowl romp over the Kansas City Chiefs, Tom Brady averaged a little less than 7 yards per pass attempt and Leonard Fournette a little more than 5.5 yards per rush. A 7-yard pass, a 5-yard run, a 7-yard pass, a 5-yard run. Tampa overwhelmed Kansas City with dinks and dunks, piling up 26 first downs on just 340 total yards, 10 fewer than the totally outclassed Chiefs (who padded their total thanks to ample fourth quarter garbage time). The only extraordinary thing about the Bucs’ offensive performance: a Super Bowl record six first downs by penalty in the first half alone. The previous record: four, in an entire game.
Penalties, penalties, and additional penalties! The Chiefs’ backup offensive tackles playing like the backups to the backup offensive tackles’ backups! Tom Brady taking what the defense gave him! The decisive factors in Super Bowl LV were not what football experts would call “entertaining to behold.” But this Super Bowl was only mostly devoid of frivolity. Here is a complete list of everything that approximated joyousness, whimsy, and/or fun.
Antoine Winfield Jr.’s taunt. Despite the CBS booth’s attempt to problematize the Bucs defensive back’s digital heckling of Tyreek Hill, this was in fact fun and cool.
Yes, Winfield got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. But Winfield gave Hill what Hill had given the Bucs.
At worst, those peace signs offset. Perhaps instead of throwing a flag, the refs should’ve awarded Winfield a small trophy to honor his observational skills and dramatic timing.
The idiot on the field (and Kevin Harlan’s call of the idiot on the field). Another quantum of fun that CBS—which cut away from the action just as it was getting good—tried and failed to ruin. Thank you to Kevin Harlan, who was calling the game for Westwood One radio, for knowing what the world needed to hear.
Sure, this was not as fun as the time that Harlan dramatized the scampering of a freaked-out cat.
But for this Super Bowl, this was top-notch entertainment.
Gronk. I will admit that I enjoy the galoot–slash–CBD salesman.
I didn’t enjoy this next part at all, but it was after the game, and so it doesn’t really count for the purposes of this conceit. Lucky break for our guy Gronk.
Devin White and Leonard Fournette. As an LSU fan, I acknowledge that these guys have a special place in my gumbo-slathered heart. But objective observers will agree that the Bucs’ Louisianan linebacker and running back were Tampa’s two best players on Sunday (non-elderly-quarterback division).
Whatever it was that Patrick Mahomes did here. For the Chiefs to win on Sunday, their phenomenally talented quarterback would’ve had to do this:
While also, somehow, doing this:
Instead, we got extraordinary athleticism, coordination, and gumption … resulting in passes doinking off dudes’ facemasks.
This, in Super Bowl LV, was the height of fun: a series of extraordinary failures that did nothing to prevent or even slow down the inexorable, painful march of defeat. You did your best and so much more, Patrick Mahomes, and it wasn’t even close to good enough.