Although there was an obvious disappointment in the Chiefs post-game press conferences, the players did not discredit their opposition’s performance. They tipped their hats to the better team, and the Buccaneers definitely proved they were. It also proves that defenses still wins championships.
According to Pro Football Reference (PFR), the Bucs defense came into the post season ranked eighth, while the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense came in ranked sixth. This Bucs defense has had several ups and downs throughout the season, being at their lowest point when these two teams first faced each other in week twelve when they got torched for 543 total yards.
The Bucs have been quite resilient all year though. They were forced to learn how to win against the best and they kept proving everyone wrong. Many thought they couldn’t beat the Saints, but they proved them wrong. Then many more thought they couldn’t beat the high scoring Packers with the league’s MVP. Again, they proved many of their doubters wrong. Then they reached the highest peak, and still, many didn’t give them a chance against the Chiefs offense.
But in Buccaneers’ postseason fashion, they proved the naysayers wrong. Again.
During the post-game press conferences, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was asked how Tampa Bay’s defense was able to keep Patrick Mahomes running backwards most of the second half of the game and forcing plays dead at the snap.
“Their defensive line kind of thrives off of being able to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback,” Kelce responded. “Sure enough, they had us schemed up pretty well.”
ESPN Next Gen Stats had Mahomes running around for 497 yards before he can get a throw off. Although Kelce said Mahomes typically does “magical things” when he’s forced outside of the tackle box, he credited the Bucs defense yet again when asked about his quarterback being hurried out of the pocket throughout the game.
Referring back to Kelce’s statements about how the Bucs schemed the Kansas City offense, a reporter asked him about the most difficult challenge they faced to move the ball.
“They put a cap over the top and didn’t let us get behind the defense knowing how much speed we had.
Their front seven is second to none in the league. It was frustrating, it was one of those days where it just felt like anything you did, they had an answer for it.”
It’s undeniable that the Bucs defense won this championship. They applied a ‘bend, don’t break’ game plan. They attacked the quarterback and bracketed the big play makers, and the secondary played their best game keeping the deep threat under them. Meanwhile, the defensive line contained and rushed Mahomes’ to take him out of his comfort zone and ability to make plays downfield.