Super Bowl 2021 score, analysis: Led by Tom Brady, Buccaneers rout Chiefs for title


Super Bowl 55 might go down as one of the most important in NFL history. At least, it has been billed that way over the last two weeks, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the first true "home" Super Bowl against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, putting a bow on the 2020 season the league navigated under the circumstances and challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic

USA TODAY Sports is here to bring you the latest updates and analysis from our reporters and columnists at the game and across the country.

Tom Brady wins Super Bowl MVP 

"How 'bout that!" Brady said as he lifted the Lombardi Trophy for the seventh time. He won his fifth Super Bowl MVP, and he's not retiring, he said. 

Chiefs 1st half penalties sink chances

Quick look: Refs were bad, but that's normal 

The Chiefs were called flagged for 11 penalties and 120 yards. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers committed four for 39 yards. 

Pressure dooms Chiefs, Mahomes

Quick look: Don't blame Mahomes for Chiefs loss 

Mahomes ran for his life all night. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Mahomes being pressured on 29 of 56 dropbacks is the most in Super Bowl history.

Brady was pressured four times on 30 attempts – the least amount of pressure he faced in any Super Bowl of his career.

The Chiefs missing both starting tackles certainly did not help. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl 55 

Final: Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 9. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.

The confetti is falling, the clock is showing zeros, and the GOAT is a champion in his first season away from the Patriots. 

Buccaneers intercept Mahomes again

Hounded all night, Mahomes threw his second interception of the game in the end zone (picked off by Laonte David). 

Bruce Arians will become the oldest coach to win the Super Bowl. 

Two-minute warning update: Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 9 

The fourth quarter has been scoreless, but the Chiefs are inside the red zone once again. It's far too late, however, and the Buccaneers will win their second Super Bowl title — Brady's seventh ring — while spoiling the Chiefs' chances of becoming the NFL's first repeat champions since... Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in 2003-04. 

Fan interrupts Super Bowl in 4th quarter

With 5:03 remaining in the game, a fan ran on the field, and officials stopped play.

“One of the great runs of the night, I will say that,” CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz said before the network cut to a commercial break.

Chiefs blow chance of making it a game

That’s the second would-be touchdown pass that has gone through a Chiefs player’s hands and hit them in the helmet. It happened to Tyreek Hill earlier and Darrel Williams on that fourth-down play. Mahomes’ effort to heave the ball into the end zone while being tripped and falling to the ground is an example of how, even not fully healthy, he is a freak of nature.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass in the air against Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston (92) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.

End of third quarter: Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 9

The Chiefs are 1-for-8 on third down. 

Buccaneers lead 31-9 

With a short field, the Buccaneers entered the red zone once again. But a bad snap over Brady's head pushed them back and resulted in a field goal try. Ryan Succop's 52-yard kick was good with less than three minutes left in the third quarter. 

Antoine Winfield Jr. intercepts Patrick Mahomes

Backbreaking – only way to describe that interception. Mahomes tried to go long again, the ball was tipped back and wound up in the hands of a diving Antoine Winfield Jr., who corralled the ball for the pick. 

A flag came out but it was on the Chiefs and the penalty was declined. Tampa Bay takes over on the Kansas City side of the field with a chance to make this even more of a blowout. 

Buccaneers up Super Bowl lead over Chiefs

Every time the Chiefs seem like they want to crawl back into the game, the Buccaneers offer a demoralizing blow. This time, Tampa Bay marched down the field — a 25-yard completion from Brady to Gronkowski helped — before Leonard Fournette found a seam down the right side and took a handoff 27 yards for a touchdown. 

Tampa Bay leads 28-9 with 7:45 left in the third quarter, as Brady appears poised for a seventh Super Bowl title and the Chiefs need to regroup now or never. 

Chiefs settle for field goal to open 2nd half

Field goals aren’t going to cut it, but the Chiefs will take that opening possession of the second half. Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire got things started with a 26-yard run up the gut. Two plays later, he added 10 more yards on the ground for a first down. The Chiefs stalled there though, and Harrison Butker again came through, this time connecting from 52 yards out to make it 21-9. 

The Weeknd performs Super Bowl halftime show 

R&B star The Weeknd played the Super Bowl halftime show, wearing a bedazzled red jacked and singing hits such as "Can't Feel My Face," "I Feel It Coming," "Earned It" and "The Hills." The performance started on a stage in the stands and ended with "Blinding Lights" on the field. 

The Weeknd told reporters last week he spent $7 million of his own money on the performance. 

HALFTIME: Buccaneers 21, Chiefs 6 

A look at each quarterback’s stats tells most of the story.

Tom Brady: 16-for-20, 140 yards, 3 TD

Patrick Mahomes: 9-for-19, 67 yards

And accounting for each team’s penalty yardage tells the rest.

Buccaneers: one for five yards

Chiefs: eight for 95 yards — the most for the Chiefs in a first half under Andy Reid. 

Buccaneers steal TD before halftime 

Penalties have been the theme of the first half for the Chiefs. Five defensive penalties have gifted the Buccaneers 73 yards, and Bashaun Breeland was flagged for pass interference on a deep pass to Mike Evans. Then Mathieu was called for pass interference in the end zone to put the ball on the 1-yard line. With 10 seconds remaining, Brady took a quick three-step drop and drove the ball into Antonio Brown’s hands to give Tampa Bay a 15-point lead with six seconds left in the half – the one thing the Chiefs could not afford.

An NFL official moves in to separate Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) during the second quarter of Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.

After the touchdown, Mathieu got in Brady's face and was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 

Chiefs chip away 

Mahomes started slow but started 5-for-5 on the drive before he and the Chiefs sputtered in the red zone. Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the former New York Jets head coach, clearly has the Chiefs offensive line on its heels with his exotic blitz packages.

Harrison Butker made it 14-6 on a 34-yard field goal with 61 seconds until halftime.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates scoring a touchdown with offensive guard Aaron Stinnie (64) during the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.

Brady, Gronkowski connect again 

Football is a game of fortunes, and the Buccaneers lived right on that drive – while the Chiefs’ mistakes came back to bite them. After great coverage on the first punt, Townsend managed a 29-yard effort that set Tampa Bay up in great position.

Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Brady on a tipped pass, but a flag in the secondary kept the possession arrow with Tampa Bay. Once the Chiefs defense provided a stop and the Buccaneers kicked a field goal, a flag came out for offside – giving Tampa Bay another first down. Of course, Brady made them pay for real this time, and connected with Gronkowski for the second time to make it 14-3 with 6:05 until halftime.

Cardboard cutout controversy 

While "PACKED" trended on Twitter, Raymond James Stadium is not full of fans. That's 30,000 cardboard cutouts in between pods of fans. There are about 25,000 people in attendance, including 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers. 

“There are 30,000 fan cutouts killing seats spread out evenly among the lower, middle and upper bowls," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote to USA TODAY Sports in an emailed statement. "These cutouts provide physical distancing between pods of fans and the vaccinated health care workers." 

Chiefs D comes up big with goal-line stand

A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Chiefs pass-rusher Chris Jones pushed Tampa Bay near midfield and then Brady found Mike Evans for a 31-yard gain into the red zone. Offensive lineman Joe Haeg got his hands on a potential touchdown but the ball was knocked away on second down. Running back Ronald Jones II was stood up the next play. That brought up the pivotal fourth-down play – there was hardly any doubt coach Bruce Arians would go for it. Defensive lineman Vita Vea came in as the fullback and the officials ruled Jones as short of the goal line on a second consecutive rush – a possibly massive momentum shift and much-needed for a Kansas City unit that was bullied on that drive.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after a call during the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.

Tampa Bay challenged the play, but the call on the field stood, so the Buccaneers lost their second timeout, leaving them with one for the rest of the first half. 

Buccaneers answer to jump out front 

And here come the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay had gains of 16, 15 and 11 on the drive before the most prolific postseason tandem – Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, who joined Brady in Tampa this offseason – connected on a play-action pass. It was Brady’s first first-quarter touchdown in his 10th Super Bowl, with 37 seconds to spare, as the Buccaneers took a 7-3 lead. The duo passed the legendary combination of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice for most touchdowns between a quarterback-receiver pairing (13). 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the first quarter in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.

Chiefs take 3-0 lead 

Aided by comfortable field position after the Buccaneers’ second punt of the game, the Chiefs strolled into Tampa Bay territory. Tampa Bay defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting saved a touchdown after his team jumped offside and Mahomes took a shot to the end zone on a free play from the 35-yard line.

Mahomes and Tyreek Hill nearly connected for what would have been an incredible touchdown play, but the ball fell through Hill’s hands. The first points of the game came on a Harrison Butker 49-yard field goal with 5:14 left in the first quarter.

End of the 1st quarter

Buccaneers 7, Chiefs 3: The Buccaneers carry a four-point lead into the second quarter and have the ball back. 

Mahomes threw for 229 yards during the Chiefs' win over the Bucs earlier this season. He had nine on Sunday. 

Tiger Woods is at the Super Bowl 

Tiger Woods made an appearance at Super Bowl 55, posing with NFL Hall of Famer and former Buccaneers great Derrick Brooks. 

Two punts open game

Kickoff, officially, was at 6:39 p.m. ET. Hardly two minutes later, the Buccaneers had punted the ball back to the Chiefs and Mahomes, who was able to gain a first down with his legs before he and the Chiefs punted. The Chiefs missed on two downfield shots near midfield. Tampa Bay will take over at its own 20 after a touchback by punter Tommy Townsend, who kicked for only the second time this postseason.  

KC Chiefs win Super Bowl 55 coin toss

It was heads! One of the most intriguing prop bets for the Super Bowl – heads or tails – swung plenty of dollars at the sportsbooks. The Chiefs deferred and the Buccaneers will receive the ball first. 

Amanda Gorman preceded the coin toss with an emotional reading of an original poem she penned, honoring the frontline workers who went to work every day during the pandemic.

Before that, There was a “trifecta flyover” following the national anthem: one B-521, one B-1 and one B-2. Add those numbers up: 55.

Alicia Keys sings 'Lift Every Voice and Sing'

Both teams lined their respective end zones while a video of Alicia Keys performing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," known as the Black national anthem, played. The NFL began playing the song before each game in 2020. 

Sarah Thomas: First female official in Super Bowl 

Sarah Thomas is making history on Sunday. Never before has a female official worked a Super Bowl. Thomas became the league’s first full-time female official in 2015 and has four playoff games under her belt.

No notable inactives

The big names – like Chiefs RB Le’Veon Bell, Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins, Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield Jr., Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate and Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown – are active. Here's the full inactive list:

Chiefs: RB Darwin Thompson, TE Ricky Seals-Jones, DE Tim Ward, DT Khalen Saunders, QB Matt Moore, CB Chris Lammons

Buccaneers: QB Drew Stanton, QB Ryan Griffin, RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, WR Justin Watson, TE Antony Auclair, DL Jeremiah Ledbetter, DL Khalil Davis

Fans attend Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium

The smallest crowd in Super Bowl history will be on hand in Tampa due to pandemic restrictions. All fans will wear masks and of the approximately 25,000 in attendance, 7,500 will be vaccinated healthcare workers

The numbers may be limited, but the prices sure aren't — beers are going for $13-15. 

KC Chiefs will be without Britt Reid 

Britt Reid, the Chiefs' outside linebackers coach and son of head coach Andy Reid, did not travel with the team after he was involved in a multi-vehicle accident Thursday night. Kansas City TV station 41 Action News reported that Reid told police two or three drinks. 

Reid, 35, has been on the Chiefs staff since 2013. 

Joe Biden wants to catch a pass from Patrick Mahomes

The 46th president has been preaching unity during his first weeks in office, and he struck a conciliatory tone when asked whether he'd go with Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes (Biden played wide receiver growing up). 

"Obviously, Brady is a great quarterback," Biden told CBS. "Mahomes seems like he's got a lot of potential and so I'd probably take a shot with the young guy." 

Fans arrive before the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

When pressed if his pick of Mahomes reflected who he thought would win the game, the president demurred.

"I don't know who's going to win," Biden said. "I think they're both great quarterbacks."