One year ago today, on Feb. 7, 2021, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made history.
Having already made their mark on the NFL record books by becoming the first team to play for the Super Bowl in its home stadium, Tampa Bay went one step further and became the first team to win the Lombardi Trophy in its home stadium. For neutral viewers, it was likely pretty forgettable. But for the Buccaneer faithful, it was a magical night that will be remembered forever.
From the very beginning, it was simply surreal. The scene at Raymond James Stadium itself was bizarre, with one end zone painted red for the Bucs and the other end zone painted yellow for the Chiefs while 25,000 fans/health care workers and 30,000 cutouts looked on from the seats due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Once the pregame ceremonies concluded, the game started slow. The two teams traded punts before Tampa Bay’s second punt led to a Kansas City field goal drive. But, as it would turn out, that 3-0 lead for the defending Super Bowl champions would be their only lead of the night.
An eight-play, 75-yard drive got the Bucs on the board, with Tom Brady hitting Rob Gronkowski for an eight-yard touchdown. The Buccaneer defense kept the momentum going from there and even though the offense was stopped on a fourth-down try on its next drive, the defense continued to hold up. A 29-yard punt then gave Brady a short field to work with, and it didn’t take him long to find Gronkowski again—this time for a 17-yard touchdown.
Kansas City managed to respond with a field goal drive that took 5:04 off the clock, but a penalty-aided 71-yard drive ended with Brady finding Antonio Brown for a one-yard touchdown to give the Bucs a 21-6 lead heading into the locker room.
After The Weeknd gave everyone an incredibly memorable halftime show, the second half was more of the same. Tampa Bay’s defense continued to relentlessly get after Patrick Mahomes, and the Chiefs’ field goal at the 11:26 mark of the third quarter turned out to be their final points of the game. By the time Leonard Fournette broke free for a 27-yard touchdown run with 7:45 left in the third quarter, the celebrations could pretty much already begin in the stadium, as well as in bars and homes throughout the city.
Tampa Bay coasted the rest of the way, finishing off a dominant 31-9 win over a Kansas City team that had never been held without a touchdown with Mahomes as its quarterback. Brady was great, finishing 21-of-29 for 201 yards and three touchdowns on his way to being named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his career. He also earned his seventh Lombardi Trophy, which is more than any other NFL franchise has. It was a remarkable end to what was a stellar first season in Tampa, as the 43-year-old proved that he very much could get it done in the big time away from New England.
As good as Brady was and as many memorable moments as there were from guys like Gronkowski and Fournette, that special night last February belonged to the Buccaneer defense. Tampa Bay pressured Mahomes on 29 of his 56 dropbacks, setting a Super Bowl record for quarterback pressures in the process. Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston and Vita Vea were getting pressure on their own for much of the night, as the Bucs really didn’t even need to blitz all that much (in fact, they blitzed on only 11% of snaps in the game). Barrett had four quarterback hits, while Suh added two. Gholston, Anthony Nelson, Cam Gill and Steve McLendon all added hits of their own to take the total to 10 on the night. It was quite the sight to see.
The Tampa Bay defense didn’t fall short on takeaways either, with Antoine Winfield Jr. and Devin White both intercepting Mahomes on the night. White’s effectively ended the game, ensuring that Kansas City would go the whole night without finding the end zone. The exclamation point on the defense’s performance was, well, you already know:
When the clock hit triple zeroes, the Buccaneers were Super Bowl champions for the second time in franchise history. The front office’s “all in” strategy had officially paid off and Tampa Bay was on top of the football world for the first time in almost two decades. Of course, that night was only the beginning of the celebrations, as the legendary boat parade took place just a few days later. From Brady tossing the Lombardi Trophy from boat to boat to Scotty Miller dropping Chris Godwin’s phone in the bay, that day certainly didn’t fail to deliver on memorable moments either.
Long-suffering Buccaneer fans deserved a night like the one they got on Feb. 7, 2021. So, Bucs Nation, happy one-year anniversary! If you’re looking for some good content to consume in the name of celebration, we’ve got you covered:
- Chiefs vs. Buccaneers | Super Bowl LV Game Highlights (NFL)
- Super Bowl LV Mic’d Up! | “This is What We Do, Two Tuddies!?” | Game Day All Access 2020 (NFL)
- Super Bowl LV | NFL Films Presents (NFL Films)
- Super Bowl LV Trophy Presentation & MVP Speech! (NFL)
- In the Current | Episode 6 2020 Season | Champions Forever (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
- NFL America’s Game 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL Films)
- The Buccaneers Super Bowl boat parade in 3 minutes (Fox 13 Tampa Bay)
- The Making Of and Story Behind the Bucs Super Bowl LV Championship Ring (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
- Tom Brady’s Super Bowl LV Ring Ceremony Speech (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Enjoy, Bucs Nation!
SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS! pic.twitter.com/X2slO2g6xW— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 8, 2021
The throw ➡️ The catch pic.twitter.com/OeO2LsDP7D— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 10, 2021