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Chiefs-Bucs Super Bowl LV rapid reaction: ‘Run It Back’ campaign falls just short

Mahomes and the Chiefs lose to Brady and the Bucs, 31-9, in the Super Bowl championship.

Super Bowl LV Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Running it back will have to wait at least another year for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are Super Bowl champions after defeating Kansas City 31-9. The Chiefs finish the 2020 season just one win shy of completing their title defense.

The Chiefs began the game by scoring first, taking a three-point lead. In a season of ups and downs, kicker Harrison Butker was perfect. That was about the extent of what went right for the Chiefs in Tampa Bay.

Let’s get this out of the way: the game was officiated poorly and unfairly — especially in the first half. That is not the reason the Chiefs lost the Super Bowl. The Chiefs lost the Super Bowl because they were outplayed at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.

All week, it was suggested that the Chiefs makeshift offensive line would be tested against a Buccaneers front that willed its way past Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago. That rang true, and in fact, was a grand understatement. The Chiefs missed tackles Eric Fisher and Mitch Schwartz dearly; they also missed Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Kelechi Osemele.

Shaq Barrett was relentless — and by the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes — already hobbled by turf toe that is expected to require surgery — was running for his life.

The Bucs offensive line, on the other hand, ran what can be considered a clinic. The Chiefs defensive front was pushed around, creating gaping lanes for Leonard Fournette, who was fantastic. Tom Brady picked apart the Chiefs’ weak points at the second and third levels, and for the second time in three years, Kansas City had no answer for the same man: Rob Gronkowski.

The key momentum swing came as a result of extremely tight officiating we simply did not see in the conference round — particularly throughout the NFC title game. With the Bucs only up 7-3 midway through the second quarter, Tyrann Mathieu appeared to intercept the football, but the play was called back due to what could be viewed as a soft defensive holding call on Charvarius Ward. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman then lined up a Dee Ford’s length on what would have been a Bucs’ field goal plays later, giving them a first down.

On the next play, Gronkowski caught a touchdown, extending Tampa Bay’s lead to 14-3. The Chiefs were flagged a record eight times in the first half for 95 yards. The Buccaneers were flagged once. The Chiefs could not crawl out of the 21-6 hole in the second half.

As a result of his efficient performance, Brady won his seventh Super Bowl — this one with a new team. Going into the Super Bowl, head coach Bruce Arians made headlines when he remarked that it took only “one man” to completely turn around Tampa’s organization.

It may be difficult to salvage a silver lining from what transpired on Sunday night, but the truth is the Chiefs can say the same. In three seasons as the starter, Mahomes has led Kansas City to three straight AFC title games and two straight Super Bowls.

He leaves Sunday night with a 1-1 record in the championship game. There is no doubt an abundance of problems for the franchise to address — and we will cover the Chiefs’ stabs at solutions on these pages beginning Monday and beyond.

But because of Mahomes and all that he does — sleep soundly knowing one thing: the Chiefs will be back.