GIVING YOU A “PEACE” OF MY MIND
If your rookie safety costs you 15 yards for an unnecessary personal foul late on in a Super Bowl for taunting, you could be forgiven for being a little irked. But when Antoine Winfield Jr. drew a penalty for flashing the peace sign right in Tyreek Hill’s face, it merely cost Tampa Bay field position rather than points on the board.
It was a calculated act of revenge for being disrespected earlier in the season and, though condoned by commentators at the time, you have to feel for the Bucs’ defensive back. And given the timing, context and delivery of the reaction, it was almost worthy of respect in itself.
When Tampa’s defence stopped Kansas City on a fourth down with around four minutes left to play, with Winfield breaking up a long pass aimed at Hill, he gave the Chiefs wideout a taste of his own medicine before the flags fluttered in. It was direct payback for Hill’s trademark celebration: flashing the deuces at his flailing markers as he runs off into the end zone.
The Cheetah did exactly that against Winfield in Week 12, on a 75-yard touchdown when the Chiefs beat the Buccaneers 27-24. Hill (who racked up a monstrous 269 yards and 3 TDs that day) also performed a backwards somersault into the end zone with Winfield trailing in his wake, winding the Bucs’ defender up even more. Revenge was always going to be sweet and, having kept Hill pretty quiet all night, getting it four minutes from lifting the Lombardi Trophy couldn’t have been better timing.
“The taunting, it was something I just had to do,” Winfield explained afterwards. “When we played them earlier, Hill went off on us. He back-flipped in front of my face and gave me the peace sign. So, it was only right that I gave him the peace sign right back to him at this moment. It felt amazing to be able to do that. I’m not even gonna lie.”
I think that if you dish it out, as Hill often does, you have to be able to take it back. And with Winfield Jr. finishing the game with six tackles, one interception, two pass breakups and a Super Bowl LV ring, the fine he’ll get for incurring the penalty will be the last thing on his mind.
MOTLEY CREW ROCK THE SUPER BOWL
Did you ever see that film Space Cowboys? A rag-tag bunch of aging and retired test pilots – played by Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner and Donald Sutherland – are plucked out of obscurity to form an unlikely team that save the day by sorting out a defunct Soviet satellite. (No, I don’t blame you…)
Anyway, that’s how the Super Bowl felt, with Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette all lured to Tampa Bay by the chance to play alongside our handsome lead actor and the oldest of the crew, 43-year-old Tom Brady. He may be getting on a bit but he can still show young whippersnappers like Patrick Mahomes a thing or two, reminding everyone that they can’t put him out to grass quite yet.
Then there’s his best mate, who he coaxed out of retirement. A lot of the talk before the game was about what damage KC tight end Travis Kelce might do, coming off the back of a historically prolific season but in the end, it was all about the TE on the other team, Rob Gronkowski. Gronk only moved to Florida for the weather and to be with his buddy, but he stole the show on Sunday night after a solid if not spectacular season, following a year away. His two-touchdown performance highlighted exactly why Brady wanted a reunion.
Another of our gang of four, Antonio Brown, bounced from pillar to post following his departure from Pittsburgh. Clearly battling a number of issues, the troubled wide receiver played just one game for the Patriots last season. He was Brady’s housemate in New England and they teamed up again in Tampa mid-season after an eight-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy (one of several misdemeanours that threatened to end his career prematurely). To see him score a TD on the biggest stage was not something I’d expected to see. Bringing him in was a massive gamble and many thought he didn’t deserve a second shot, let alone a third or fourth, but his moment of redemption, thrown his way by Captain Brady, was the perfect end to that particular story.
Our final crew member is Leonard Fournette, who scored with a 27-yard rumble in the third quarter. Like Brown, Fournette (135 total yards on Sunday) was another reject, having been waived by the Jaguars last summer. But in Florida, the former first-round pick looks rejuvenated, as he transformed from being a backup to Ronald Jones into ‘Playoff Lenny’, notching four post-season touchdowns.
A year ago, most of us wouldn’t have put money on seeing this bunch of misfits on the field again, let alone scoring four TDs between them in a Super Bowl and outshining Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the process. It seems like head astronaut Brady had a big hand in bringing all three in from the cold and his bunch of Space Cowboys have paid back that trust in spades.
A HEROIC EFFORT DOESN’T GET ITS REWARDS
The history books will always say that the Kansas City Chiefs lost Super Bowl LV. They will always also state the Chiefs were held without a touchdown for the first time since November 2017. It was the first time since September 2019 that Patrick Mahomes didn’t throw a touchdown pass, when playing in the game. Strange really then that one of my biggest takeaways was just how well Patrick Mahomes played on the biggest stage of them all.
Mahomes was pressured on a ridiculous 52% of his total drop backs on Sunday. To nobody’s surprise, that is a Super Bowl record. More often than not, the Bucs managed to do this while just rushing four. It meant that they were able to double Tyreek Hill out of the game and blanket Travis Kelce, who is the normal relief in the short to intermediate range for the QB to go to. Mahomes amassed a ludicrous 497 yards scrambling before throwing in an attempt to do anything to keep the Chiefs in the game.
He took hit after hit and kept on getting back up. Mahomes has the ability to make the impossible look routine. The one throw in particular where he ended up launching the ball towards the end zone while literally flying through the air left my viewing jaw on the floor. Anyone that knows anything about quarterback mechanics will tell you how important setting your feet is as part of the process. The spiral that Mahomes threw from literally no base was nothing short of spectacular. There were several other examples of him making something out of nothing and despite playing on a toe that requires surgery, he also added 33 yards rushing including picking up some first downs.
Despite all of the challenges Mahomes kept on going. He actually managed to only get sacked three times. He took some vicious hits, one in particular where three Bucs converged from all angles. All of this when it seemed fairly obvious to the fan at home that the Chiefs were never getting back into this contest. Yes, I know he is paid a fortune and he should be the leader of this team. Yes, I know he sometimes gets too much praise for the simple things that he does. The torch may not have been officially passed from Tom Brady on Sunday night, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that if it needed confirmation, we found our heir apparent in Patrick Mahomes.
THE SUPPORTING CAST THAT DIDN’T OFFER MUCH SUPPORT
In all truth, there aren’t many Kansas City Chiefs players whose performance in Super Bowl LV can be categorised as one of their better nights in the NFL. However, for a receiving corps that have been widely regarded as the best in the league, it was a particularly dark evening in Florida.
The run-up to Sunday’s big game was littered with conversation about how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defence was going to cover the track team that the Chiefs presented at wide receiver, tight end and running back, with the general consensus being that they wouldn’t be able to. Yet as the world saw, a number of drops, slips and mistakes perforated any hope for Chiefs fans and bettors alike that they could take over a game like they did back in Week 12 where Tyreek Hill alone ended up with 269 yards and three scores.
At first glance from Sunday’s rematch, the yardage for the key characters all looks normal (133 for Kelce, 73 for Tyreek) yet in one crucial category, they all scored a perfect zero – touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes did his best to give his guys some chances, but for one reason or another, none of them came through, including a pair of excruciating drops in the end zone by Damien Williams and Tyreek Hill. Hill’s opportunity with five minutes remaining in the first quarter was difficult enough in double coverage that the loss will hardly fall on that moment, but in a season where the Chiefs offence has seemed utterly unstoppable at times, the instant did provide some rather accurate foreshadowing if nothing else.
In the second quarter, it was Kelce’s turn to drop one, butter-fingering a 20-yard bullet from Mahomes on 3rd-and-8 to give the ball back once again to the Bucs with Tom Brady in full swing. The always-dependable Kelce was hardly to blame for the loss with the previously mentioned 133 yards, but as Hill’s drop had been before him, the slips and misses of the hyper-consistent Kelce were just another one of those things in an ultimately disappointing evening for the Chiefs.
With the Bucs staying attached to the Cover-2 that served them so well throughout, and the Chiefs unable to run them out of it into the fourth quarter, Mahomes produced a pass for the ages. Chased down by Shaq Barrett, who was superb throughout, Mahomes was tripped and threw a pass as he fell through the air into quadruple coverage. Running back Williams allowed it to hit his hands before it fell harmlessly to the floor on a crucial 4th-and-9. While his drop will be considered the most egregious in preventing a potential Mahomes comeback, Williams’ mistake was in fact just the final nail in an error-prone coffin that had been in production since the first quarter.
A PERFORMANCE TO RE-MEME-BER
When you fund a Super Bowl half-time show for approximately $28m, I don’t think it speaks well when everyone is turning it into memes.
The Weeknd joined a stellar list of performers to provide a spectacle at the biggest game in sports. However, there was a particular segment that was more than relatable to all of those watching it.
The segment performed under the stage in what seems to be a golden passageway/maze seems to have got everyone thinking creatively and relating it to their everyday lives and even the Super Bowl itself. Below is a selection of memes that caught our eye:
The social media world is very quick to jump on every opportunity to get clicks/likes and follows. I wonder what percentage tried to meme this particular aspect of the performance?