On Sunday, February 7th, Super Bowl LV kicked off at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Florida. This year's match-up of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pitted the 2020 Super Bowl champions against a team that hadn't been to the big game since 2003. But being Super Bowl champs didn't mean anything for the Chiefs this year. From the outset of the game, Tampa Bay took control. The Bucs scored three touchdowns in the first half alone, bringing the half-time score to 21 to 6. The final score was 31 to 9, with Kansas City only being able to score 3 field goals.
Even though the Chiefs lost, Patrick Mahomes was the top passing performer, completing 26 of 49 passes for 270 yards, but with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. By comparison, Tom Brady completed 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. The other top performers were Leonard Fournette of the Bucs, rushing leader with 16 carries for 89 yards and 1 touchdown, and the Chief's Travis Kelce, top receiver with 10 receptions for 133 yards. Kansas City entered the game favored to win but they were undone by a struggling offense and too many costly penalties.
There were a number of firsts during this year's game. This was the first time that the Chiefs, playing under quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, failed to score a touchdown in a game. They lost the game by double-digits, making them only the third Super Bowl team to not score a touchdown. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first team to play a Super Bowl at home and to also win a Super Bowl in their home stadium. This was Tom Brady's first year with the Bucs. It was also the first Super Bowl starring the two most-recent Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.
Maral Javadifar, the 30-year-old assistant strength and conditioning coach for Tampa Bay, and 56-year-old assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust were the first female coaches on a team to win a Super Bowl. They, along with all other team members will get Super Bowl LV rings – that's some bling, and we ladies just love bling. Sarah Thomas also made history as the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl, working as the down judge. Super Bowl referees must have been officiating in the NFL for at least 5 years before becoming eligible for a Super Bowl position. One of the bombers flying in formation during the fly-over was piloted by a woman, also a first.
It was the first time a super bowl had the least attendance – seating was limited to 25,000 in a stadium built to seat over 65,000. Over 30,000 of the remaining seats were filled with “fans” who paid to have a photo they submitted converted into a life-size cardboard cutout. It was the first super bowl to be played during a pandemic after a season played amid COVID-19 restrictions. It was not only the first paperless super bowl but also the first paperless NFL game. The game was fully mobile ticketed for the fans that were in attendance and fully cashless inside the stadium for all concessions. All attendees needed their smartphones for entry and for concession payments. Ugh, that would be a disaster for smartphone-challenged people like me.
I was 9 years old when the first super bowl, Super Bowl I, was played on January 15, 1967. Interestingly, the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Green Bay Packers, 35 to 10 that day. Ticket prices were $12 per seat for that game, compared to the average ticket price this year of $5,000 and that was before fees. Ticketmaster was actually selling tickets this year for $35,000 each!
I watched all the football games during that 1966 that season with my dad, peppering him with a constant flow of questions about the game. God love him, he was so patient answering all my questions while trying to watch the games. But he taught me a lot and spending time on Sundays with my dad grew right along with my love of football. Growing up in Rhode Island, naturally, we were New England Patriots fans and he and I always watched those games together.
I remember when the Patriots first drafted Tom Brady. He was picked 199th in the sixth and final round of the 2000 NFL draft. It seemed that no team wanted him, so the Patriots got a screaming deal at that point. Brady served as a backup to starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe in 2000 and played in only one game during that first season. But 2001 was a completely different story: Drew Bledsoe had a near-fatal injury in game 2. Brady took over in that game and never looked back. He proved himself a strong leader with a powerful arm. Anyone who doubted his abilities only had to look at the team's record that season. It was an impressive 11 wins to 3 losses in the 14 games that Brady started. The Patriots also won their first Super Bowl with Brady at the helm that year, Super Bowl XXXVI on February 3, 2002.
So, 54 years after my first TV experience with Super Bowl I, I still love the game and still think about my dad every time I watch a game. I wonder what he would think about how far the games have come since that first super bowl and how different things are now.
Great story. Thank you.