Even in the wake of their Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Kansas City Chiefs entered the 2021 NFL season viewed by many as favourites to get back to the grandest stage and regain the Lombardi Trophy.

A banged-up offensive line that was dramatically overmatched against the Buccaneers' defensive front in their chastening February defeat in Tampa had been seemingly fixed by what looked an astute investment in both youth and experience in the trenches. Kansas City appeared poised to reassert themselves as a dominant power.

Yet the issue with using your resources primarily on one area is that other concerns can be swept under the rug, only to rear their head when attention turns back to competitive action.

That has proven the case for the Chiefs, who at 3-4 look anything but Super Bowl contenders, with a disappointing pass rush and the consistently poor play of an extremely vulnerable secondary resulting in a defensive performance that has seen them give up a league-high 6.57 yards per play.

Their defensive struggles have come combined with turnover problems for Patrick Mahomes and Co, meaning the Chiefs are some way short of the team that reached three successive AFC Championship Games.

Indeed, Kansas City entered Week 8 ranked 27th in Stats Perform's efficiency versus expected (EVE) model, which looks at down, distance, yards from goal, quarter, time remaining, and score difference and uses those six factors to train a model to predict yardage output for any game situation. From there, the projected yards are compared to the actual yards gained or prevented in those situations.

With the Chiefs performing at the level of a bottom-half team and arguably facing a make-or-break game against the New York Giants on Monday to even stay in the mix, who are the lead contenders for the Super Bowl? Stats Perform looked at the EVE rankings to identify the two AFC and NFC favourites.

AFC

1. Buffalo Bills

The Bills entered Week 8 ranked second by overall EVE, their drop from the top spot a result of them having a bye in Week 7.

At 4-2, the Bills have work to do to secure the top seed in the conference, but they have a compelling case for being the most complete team in the AFC.

Eighth in yards over expected on offensive plays, their average of 0.593 yards over the projected was bettered by only three AFC teams ahead of Week 8.

Meanwhile, on defense, the Bills are allowing 0.788 yards under expected, which put them second in the league behind the New Orleans Saints prior to Thursday Night Football.

Their ranking and their performances have served as a reflection of quarterback Josh Allen's ability to prove his gargantuan year-three leap was no fluke and the significant strides made by the defense through six games.

Six of the Bills' final 11 games are against teams ranked in the bottom half of the league via EVE, giving them a clear opportunity to recover from early slip-ups against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans and establish themselves as the cream of the AFC crop.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

However, the gold standard of the AFC and - according to EVE - of the league as a whole are the Cincinnati Bengals.

That is not a sentence many will have expected to read after Cincinnati's first seven games but, in a tightly packed conference, they are worthy of consideration as genuine contenders to go all the way.

Their position atop the league by EVE is built on an offense that is fifth overall with a yards-over-expected average of 0.699, the best in the AFC, and a defense ascending earlier than anticipated.

The Bengals are third in the NFL in yards allowed under expected, though they figure to be sternly tested on both sides of the ball down the stretch.

Indeed, the Bengals have two games against a Browns team ranked third overall as well as meetings with another top-10 team in the Las Vegas Raiders and a 2-4 San Francisco 49ers team whose ranking of 13th is not reflected by their record.

A rematch with the Baltimore Ravens and an offense that entered the week seventh in yards over expected looms in Week 16 and that slightly more difficult road compared to the Bills makes it tough to install the Bengals as AFC favourites.

There can ill-afford to be any let-up from Joe Burrow - fifth among quarterbacks with 100 pass attempts with a well-thrown ball percentage of 82.4 - and dominant rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase if the Bengals are to emerge as a legitimate threat to win it all, but their Week 7 win thrashing of the Ravens suggests they will be undaunted by the challenge.

NFC

1. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams' bet that Matthew Stafford's arrival would take them to the next level is proving a successful one to this point, with Los Angeles 6-1 and looking every bit a team ready to make a concerted push to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

Sean McVay's team went into Week 8 fourth in EVE and as the class of the NFC, despite their heavy home defeat to the Arizona Cardinals back in Week 4.

After the malaise of Jared Goff's final year as quarterback, Stafford has elevated the offense to one that trailed only the Dallas Cowboys in yards over expected with an average of 0.965 pre Week 8.

That lift has been crucial in a year where the defense has, perhaps unsurprisingly, taken something of a downturn following offseason losses in the secondary and the departure of coordinator Brandon Staley.

Yet the Rams remain a top-half team on that side of the ball (11th in yards allowed under expected) and face a schedule that sees them take on just two top-10 teams by EVE the rest of the way.

They do have two games with a 49ers team the Rams have not beaten since 2018 but, analysing what they have produced so far and the tests to come for the Rams, it is difficult to envision an NFC Championship Game in which they do not feature.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Cardinals are the second-highest ranked NFC team after the Rams by EVE, occupying fifth spot overall prior to their defeat to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday.

Despite their 7-1 record, it is tough to make a case for the Cardinals over the defending champion Buccaneers, who approached Week 8 only just behind Arizona in sixth and have the benefit of an easier run-in.

In addition to facing those strange but potentially dangerous – if they ever put it together – 49ers in Week 9, the Cardinals must face the Rams again and have a meeting with a Cowboys team whose league-leading offensive effort had them ninth in EVE following the last slate of games.

While the Buccaneers have the significant challenge of facing the Bills in Week 14, a New Orleans Saints team 24th in offensive yards over expected are the only other remaining opponent on Tampa Bay's schedule in the EVE top 10.

The Bucs are 20 places higher than New Orleans on that side of the ball, with Tom Brady in the MVP conversation having thrown a league-leading 21 touchdowns through seven games.

Trust in the 44-year-old Brady and this Bucs offense continues to grow. By contrast, there are likely to be plenty of questions about the Cardinals after they fell short against a Packers team missing their three top wide receivers on Thursday.

The Rams and the Bucs are the best the NFC has to offer at this stage and, come the end of Week 8, the EVE rankings will likely reflect that.

The Super Bowl half-time show has long been a global stage for the biggest stars in music, and the NFL has lined up a formidable cast for this season's showcase event.

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will perform at Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles on February 13, the NFL announced Thursday.

The five artists have combined for 43 Grammy Awards during their careers, which date to Dre's role as a foundational member of the West Coast hip-hop scene in the late 1980s.

Jay-Z's Roc Nation is in its third season of a collaboration with the NFL to help organise and produce the 12-minute half-time show, and the mogul called this year's lineup "history in the making".

While all five performers have deep and impressive catalogues, the fact that Dre, Snoop and Lamar are all Los Angeles-area natives is an added bonus for the first Super Bowl to be played in LA since 1993.

"The opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl half-time show, and to do it in my own backyard, will be one of the biggest thrills of my career," Dre said in a media release.

The star-studded gathering figures to have a much different feel than the Super Bowl LV performance in Tampa, a solo effort by The Weeknd.

David Patten, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, has died at the age of 47, his agent has confirmed.

Patten played for the Patriots between 2001 and 2004 and won three Championship rings with the franchise.

He had previously played for the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants and went on to have spells in Washington and New Orleans before returning to Ohio and then New England to round off his career as an offseason and practice squad member.

The former wide receiver, who had been the assistant coach of the Western Carolina Catamounts since 2013, cemented his place in Pats history when he caught Tom Brady's first postseason touchdown pass to put New England 14-3 ahead against the St. Louis Rams in 2002. 

New England went on to win 20-17, with the catch the only one Patten made in the game. It was Brady's first Super Bowl success, and the quarterback went on to become an all-time great, winning the Championship game on seven occasions, most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year.

Patten tallied up 4,715 regular-season receiving yards over a 12-year career in the NFL, and 106 for rushing.

On Friday, news of his passing was confirmed by Sam Gordon, who runs the G2 Management agency of which Patten was a client.

"Today, I woke up to the worst news you could hear," Gordon posted on Instagram, alongside a photo of himself and Patten.

"My close friend and childhood hero David Patten passed away suddenly last night.

"Very rarely do people get to call their childhood heroes/favorite players their friends. Or even have them take a chance on you. You blessed with me with that. You blessed me with your belief in me when I was getting my company off of the ground.

"But most important of all, you were there to talk when the stress was too great and I was unsure of myself in my field. Mr Patten. My friend, my hero, the first one to believe in me as a manager/agent. I will miss you every day.

"Thank you David Patten. Thank you so much for your friendship, your inspiration, believing in me and trusting me to be your manager."

Richard Seymour, who was Patten's team-mate during his stint with the Patriots, tweeted: "heartbroken... great man of God… lost for words – David Patten..."

Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes said the Super Bowl LV defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will motivate him for the rest of his career.

Mahomes and the Chiefs were no match for Tom Brady's Buccaneers, who claimed a comprehensive 31-9 victory in Tampa on Sunday.

The Chiefs were looking to become the first NFL team since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004 to win back-to-back Super Bowls, but the Buccaneers had other ideas following Brady's MVP performance.

Mahomes was stifled by the Buccaneers, overpowered as the quarterback finished 26-of-49 passing for 270 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and three sacks.

"It was a bad feeling in that locker room after the game,'' Mahomes, who was the reigning MVP heading into the showdown, told reporters. "You don't want to have that feeling again.

"It's not the end of something. It's going to be another chapter where we're going to have to continue to drive to make ourselves better so we're back in that game.''

Mahomes - the 2018 NFL MVP - added: "I'm going to look at the film and try to find ways to get better. Obviously with our offense and the success that we've had, when teams see the defensive plan that [the Bucs] had and how well it worked, they're obviously going to try to do the same things.

"So we'll try to find ways to combat that. It's the evolution of our offense where we're going to have to do better things and be more efficient.

"That really goes with me and not always looking for the big play but just finding ways to move the ball down the field.''

"I thought I did a good job toward the end of the season of being more efficient,'' he said. "Obviously I didn't do that in the Super Bowl, but I'm going to try to find ways to better myself that way. Just being more efficient, taking what's there, especially when these teams are playing such deep coverages against us.

"It's something I've got to battle with because I've got such an aggressive nature and want to have the big play. But as I watch the film and really study myself, I'll have to get better at that so I can be a better quarterback at the end of the day.''

Serena Williams took inspiration from the "unbelievable" Tom Brady as she cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a "vintage" performance.

Brady made yet more history on Sunday, the most successful player in NFL history winning a seventh Super Bowl as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.

The incredible Brady, 43, showed age is no barrier, throwing three touchdown passes – two of which were scored by his long-time friend Rob Gronkowski – and completing 21 of 29 throws for 201 yards.

Brady did now allow any interceptions as he picked up the MVP award at Raymond James Stadium.

Williams started her quest for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title with a 6-1 6-1 defeat of Laura Siegemund on Monday, then paid tribute to her fellow American Brady.

She said of his exploits: "It's unbelievable. I just was watching as much as I could to see. My only word is it's unbelievable. I kept saying: 'This is unbelievable, this is unreal'.

"You can't say it was the system he was at formerly [the New England Patriots]. It's definitely Tom Brady, he's Tom Brady. He's amazing."

Brady banished everyone from his house in the days leading up to the Super Bowl so he could fully focus on inspiring the Buccaneers to victory, but the 39-year-old Williams said she could never do the same as she would not want to be separated from her daughter, Olympia.

"I would not be able to go function without my three-year-old around," Williams said. "I think I would be in a depression.

"We've been together every day of her life, so... Is that healthy? Not at all! Not even close. But every single day I just want to be around her. It's great. Everyone's different.

"I can totally understand why he would banish because if I had the strength to do it, I would too.

"I could see it's definitely a distraction, especially every year that I've played except for the past few months, I finally am starting to get better at it. The first two and a half years was very difficult. I wasn't strong enough to do the banishment."

Williams, who will face Nina Stojanovic in the second round at Melbourne Park, was delighted with the manner in which she swept Siegemund aside and had no issues with her shoulder after withdrawing from a pre-tournament event citing an injury problem.

"This was a good start. Definitely vintage 'Rena'. It's definitely good. I think I'm pretty good at pacing myself in a grand slam," she said.

"I was happy just to get through it. Wasn't sure how my serve would be after a little bit of that shoulder, but it's feeling good, I'm feeling good. So, it felt really good.

"Last year was very crazy for the world, and to be able to do what I love and to be able to come out and compete and play at a grand slam, after the last 12 months, it makes me appreciate the moment even more."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has no plans to retire after capturing his first Super Bowl crown, insisting he will return to try and claim back-to-back Lombardi Trophies.

Arians became the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl after Tom Brady led the Buccaneers past defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Sunday's Super Bowl LV.

After retiring in 2017, Arians returned to coach the Buccaneers in 2019 and he capped his comeback by delivering a first Super Bowl championship to Tampa since the 2002 season.

Having upstaged Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers and Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs en route to glory, the Buccaneers became the first team in history to win three games against former Super Bowl MVPs in the same postseason, per Stats Perform.

Asked if he might retire after tasting Super Bowl success, the 68-year-old Arians told reporters: "Hell no, I'm not going anywhere. I'm coming back, trying to get two then we will see after that.

"This football team, I love these guys. We have a great staff, great team. Hopefully [general manager] Jason [Licht] and I can get together and keep most of them and try to repeat."

Having retired following four years in charge of the Arizona Cardinals until 2017, Arians spent a year as a television game analyst in 2018.

Arians is also a prostate cancer survivor and when asked if he had ever imagined winning a Super Bowl title, he replied: "Not really. I think I would've been smoking something illegal to really imagine this.

"I can't thank Jason enough, the Glazer family for giving me this opportunity, and my coaching staff, they are outstanding. I don't do anything, they do it all.

"We have great, great players. Jason, again, gets all the credit for the roster. I just try to get out of the way and not screw up."

Looking ahead to defending their crown, Arians added: "We need to keep our guys here and try to hit another home run in free agency. Just with our guys and maybe an outside guy. Jason will hit another home run in the draft.

"We don't have many weak spots, if we get the guys we need back, we just need great athletes in the draft."

Brady was the star of the show at Raymond James Stadium, where the evergreen 43-year-old superstar clinched a record-extending seventh Super Bowl championship in his first season with the Buccaneers.

He threw three touchdowns to be crowned Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his illustrious career.

With the memorable victory, Brady joined MLB first baseman Johnny Mize (1950s New York Yankees) and NHL goaltender Johnny Bower (1960s Toronto Maple Leafs) as the only players to win four championships aged 37 or older, per Stats Perform.

Brady also followed in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history to win Super Bowls with two different teams, while he became the first player to win Super Bowls in three different decades.

"It was a slow and steady progress, every game and every week," Arians said after being asked when he knew Brady was ready in Tampa after arriving from the New England Patriots.

"Really the second half of the Chiefs game, we made a nice comeback, but the 31 points we put on Atlanta in the second half, we started attacking more and haven't stopped attacking since."

Tom Brady hailed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense for stepping up after another dominant display in their Super Bowl LV victory.

Brady won a record-extending seventh Super Bowl title as the Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 on Sunday.

The Buccaneers became the first team to win three games against former Super Bowl MVPs in the same postseason after overcoming Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) and Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs).

Mahomes was intercepted twice and sacked three times and Brady said the Buccaneers' defense delivered again.

"They stepped up to the challenge. You go up against a guy like Pat, incredible player, Aaron, MVP, two weeks ago they played incredible and then Drew they played great," Brady told a news conference.

"They stepped up, they rose to the occasion and we needed it because playing extremely talented offenses but just so happy we all came to play."

While Mahomes completed 26 of 49 passes for 270 yards, Brady was 21 of 29 for 201 yards and three touchdowns and was named Super Bowl MVP.

The Buccaneers quarterback was full of praise for his team's belief after Tampa Bay won a first Super Bowl since the 2002 season.

"I think everybody believed we could win. I think all year we believed in ourselves," Brady said.

"Our coaches believed in us, we believed in ourselves and again we were going up against a great team and just happy we got the job done."

"The worst I've been beaten in a long time". That is how Patrick Mahomes described the Kansas City Chiefs' 31-9 defeat to Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.

The Chiefs were looking to become the first NFL team since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004 to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

But Mahomes and the Chiefs were overpowered by a brutal Buccaneers team – spearheaded by superstar quarterback Brady and a relentless defensive and offensive line in Tampa on Sunday.

Mahomes and the Chiefs were stifled by the Buccaneers, who claimed their first Lombardi Trophy since the 2002 season as Brady clinched a record-extending seventh championship ring.

After finishing 26-of-49 passing for 270 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and three sacks, Mahomes told reporters: "The worst I've been beaten in a long time, but I'm proud of the guys and how they fought until the end of the game."

"We weren't on the same page as an offense in general," Mahomes said. "I wasn't getting the ball out on time, receivers were running routs not exactly where I thought they'd be.

"The offensive line, they were good at times but sometimes let guys through. When you play a good defense like that, you have to be on the same page as an offense and we weren't. That's why we played so bad."

Mahomes had little support as he was roughened up by the Buccaneers, though the 2018 NFL MVP was far from his best despite a battling performance.

Asked about an ongoing toe problem and whether he requires surgery, Mahomes replied: "I can't say my toe was a problem when I played two weeks ago and played well on it.

"You're playing football, you have to battle through injuries.

"We'll look at it tomorrow [Monday] and make a final decision as to whether to have surgery or not."

There have been eight teams all-time to reach the Super Bowl after averaging at least 410 total yards per game – the Denver Broncos (2013), Miami Dolphins (1984), New England Patriots (2011 and 2007), Los Angeles Rams (2018 and 2001), the Atlanta Falcons (2016) and Chiefs this year. All eight sides went on to lose the showpiece, per Stats Perform.

Despite the comprehensive nature of the defeat, Mahomes was upbeat afterwards.

"My dad lost in the World Series in his [MLB] career and he continues to battle and be who he is," Mahomes added. "Obviously it hurts now, it hurts a lot. But we are going to continue to get better. We have a young group of guys that have had a lot of success and learnt from that, but a few failures and we have to learn from that.

"We can't let this define us. We have to get better, going into next year, being even better in preparing ourselves to hopefully be back in this game next season."

He continued: "We have a young group of guys, when we joined together we knew it wasn’t always going to be successful and you weren't going to be able to win 1,000 championships in a row.

"We knew we would go through times like this and adversity. Leadership ability to be better next year. Obviously we didn't end the same the way we wanted to but we can learn from that and learn from successes through the season, end of the day come in at blank slate and get to the Super Bowl again."

Andy Reid did not see the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl LV performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming.

Tom Brady led the Buccaneers to a comfortable 31-9 victory over the Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.

Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes completed 26 of 49 passes for 270 yards and two interceptions, while being sacked three times.

Reid said the performance came as a surprise, with the Chiefs also giving away 11 penalties.

"I didn't see it coming at all. I thought we were going to come in and we were going to play these guys right just like we had been playing teams. It didn't happen that way," the Chiefs head coach told a news conference.

"They did a nice job, I give them credit on it. I didn't anticipate this happening."

While Mahomes also rushed for 33 yards, the quarterback was consistently troubled by the Buccaneers' defense.

Reid said there were no questions over the mental toughness of last season's Super Bowl MVP, but he also took responsibility for not giving the 25-year-old more chances.

"Until the last snap he was trying to win the football game. That should never be questioned," he said.

"I could have done a better job in helping him out with the run game. I could've given him more opportunities where we could've run the football."

Reid's son, Britt, was involved in a multi-vehicle crash on Thursday and the Chiefs head coach said it impacted him personally.

"I'd be lying if I didn't tell you my heart bleeds for the people involved in it. We had put the game plan in the week before. It wasn't a distraction as far as the game plan goes. That was already in and how we were going to work with it and go forward," he said.

"From a human standpoint, it's a tough one. From a football standpoint, I don't think that was the problem."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Tom Brady dismissed any talk of retirement, saying he was "coming back" after winning Super Bowl LV.

Brady led the Buccaneers past the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 on Sunday to win a record-extending seventh Super Bowl crown.

There was speculation the 43-year-old quarterback could retire if the Buccaneers won the showpiece game, but Brady will return for a 22nd NFL season.

"We're coming back. You already know that," he said after being named Super Bowl MVP.

Brady completed 21 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns as the Buccaneers dominated, winning their first Super Bowl since the 2002 season.

After beating Drew Brees' New Orleans Saints, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs, the Buccaneers became the first team to win three games against former Super Bowl MVPs in the same postseason.

Brady also followed in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history to win Super Bowls with two different teams, while he became the first player to win Super Bowls in three different decades.

Tom Brady has been crowned Super Bowl MVP for a fifth time after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Lombardi Trophy since the 2002 season.

Brady threw three touchdowns as the Buccaneers upstaged Patrick Mahomes and defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Sunday's Super Bowl LV.

Buccaneers superstar Brady claimed a record-extending seventh Super Bowl crown, and first in Tampa after ending his illustrious 20-year association with the New England Patriots at the start of the season.

Brady finished 21-of-29 passing for 201 yards, three TDs, no interceptions and just one sack at Raymond James Stadium.

The 43-year-old's latest Super Bowl MVP honour adds to his previous successes in 2002, 2004, 2015 and 2017.

"I'm so proud of all these guys down here," Brady said. "Everything we dealt with all year, we had a rough month in November but BA [head coach Bruce Arians] had all the confidence in us.

"The team had a lot of confidence, we came together at the right time. I think we knew this was going to happen, didn't we?"

With the memorable victory, Brady joined MLB first baseman Johnny Mize (1950s New York Yankees) and NHL goaltender Johnny Bower (1960s Toronto Maple Leafs) as the only players to win four championships aged 37 or older, per Stats Perform.

Brady also followed in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history to win Super Bowls with two different teams, while he became the first player to win Super Bowls in three different decades.

Tom Brady made more history, the most successful player in NFL history claiming a seventh Super Bowl crown after sensationally leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV.

In a blockbuster showdown pitting 43-year-old great Brady against reigning Super Bowl MVP Mahomes – the face of NFL's new generation – it was the veteran quarterback who came out on top in a masterclass on Sunday.

Brady – already the record-holder with six previous Super Bowl victories – threw three touchdown passes, including two to trusted team-mate Rob Gronkowski, after completing 21 of 29 throws for 201 yards and no interceptions as the Buccaneers claimed their first Lombardi Trophy since the 2002 campaign.

With the memorable victory in his first season with the Buccaneers, Brady joined MLB first baseman Johnny Mize (1950s New York Yankees) and NHL goaltender Johnny Bower (1960s Toronto Maple Leafs) as the only players to win four championships aged 37 or older. 

Brady also followed in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history to win Super Bowls with two different teams.

It was a night to forget for Mahomes and the Chiefs after the Kansas City signal-caller finished 26-of-49 passing for 270 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and three sacks, Tampa Bay's defense stifling Andy Reid's men.

There were plenty of storylines in Tampa – Brady featuring in his fifth Super Bowl since turning 37, tying the most appearances in a championship game/series by any player in any major North American sport, alongside NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and MLB great Roger Clemens, while he is only one of three athletes in North American sport to make three championship appearances aged 40 or older.

Led by Mahomes, the Chiefs were looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since Brady and the New England Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Sarah Thomas also made history as the NFL's first female Super Bowl official at Raymond James Stadium, where the Buccaneers became the first home team to stage a showpiece and Brady overcame an early sack in the first quarter.

Mahomes came close to throwing a touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill, instead a field goal getting the Chiefs on the board before Brady and the Buccaneers took control.

Brady led an impressive eight-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a TD pass to a familiar face – Gronkowski – with 37 seconds remaining in the opening quarter as the pair surpassed Joe Montana and Jerry Rice (12) for the most touchdowns by any quarterback-receiver combo in postseason history with their 13th.

It also marked the first time in 10 Super Bowl appearances that Brady's team scored a touchdown in the opening period.

Brady and the Buccaneers – leading 7-3 after one quarter – were purring against a defensively poor Chiefs – the veteran QB thought he had another touchdown pass, but a desperate Anthony Hitchens made a TD-saving play on Joe Haeg in the endzone early in the second period.

Kansas City's defense came up big to thwart the red-hot Buccaneers, stopping Tampa Bay just short of the endzone on fourth down, but Mahomes lacked support offensively as Travis Kelce also dropped a catch.

As the penalties piled up for the Chiefs, the Buccaneers capitalised – Brady delivering a laser pass to Gronkowski in the endzone before Antonio Brown benefited from another throw to extend Tampa Bay's lead to 21-6 on the stroke of half-time.

Shell-shocked, the Chiefs needed a response in the second half but they did not get it to begin the third quarter after they were exposed defensively again – Leonard Fournette's defensive-splitting 27-yard run making it 28-9 in favour of the hosts.

After four successful extra-point conversions, Ryan Succop nailed a 52-yard field goal to move the Buccaneers further clear late in the third quarter as Mahomes' Chiefs tried unsuccessfully to rally to victory.

Tom Brady claimed a seventh Super Bowl crown after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first Lombardi Trophy since the 2002 season with a dominant victory over defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski broke an NFL postseason record to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Brady's eight-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday saw the duo make history.

They surpassed Joe Montana and Jerry Rice (12) for the most TDs by any quarterback-receiver combo in postseason history with their 13th.

It also marked the first time in 10 Super Bowl appearances that Brady's team have scored a TD in the first quarter.

The Buccaneers held a 7-3 lead after the opening quarter.

Much of the Super Bowl LV build up has understandably focused on the tantalising battle between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.

Brady is eyeing a seventh Super Bowl crown against the NFL's top superstar Mahomes, who looks the most likely candidate to come close to his total in the years ahead.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs have not made it to Sunday's game purely based on their quarterbacks, though.

Stats Perform's NFL research analyst Ethan Cooperson will be in the commentary booth as part of the CBS broadcast crew with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo at Raymond James Stadium.

He has highlighted some of the most interesting data that suggests the Bucs' Mike Evans and Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill have pivotal roles to play.

EVANS RISING TO BRADY CHALLENGE

Brady and Evans have had a few difficult moments over the course of a campaign where the wideout has battled injuries at times.

But his contribution may not have had the credit it deserved for the Bucs' run to the big game.

"The Mike Evans effect is actually underrated," Cooperson said to Stats Perform News. "A little indication of that - Evans, this season, 14 touchdown receptions including the playoffs.

"The only wide receiver in Brady's career to catch more from him in one season is Randy Moss in 2007.

"So of all the years he played in New England with Wes Welker, with Moss, Evans is having the second most productive year in terms of TDs by any wide receiver who has been paired with Brady.

"This is obviously a great talent in Evans, who has had 1,000 yards in every season of his career, an unknown because he played on a team that was never in the playoffs.

"But now that he's with Brady, suddenly he's become, in some respects, a star because now we are realising how good this guy has been for all these years - and Brady's helped bring that out."

Evans is a formidable red-zone weapon when he is targeted. He has had one red-zone catch in each of the past two games, both touchdowns.

Per Stats Perform data, including the postseason, 11 of his 15 TD catches have come in the red zone; both figures are franchise records.

CAN HILL BE STOPPED?

In the AFC Championship Game, Hill (nine catches, 172 receiving yards) and Travis Kelce (13 catches, 118 receiving yards) became the first pair of team-mates all-time with 20+ catches and 280+ receiving yards combined in a playoff game.

The only time any NFL duo reached those numbers during the 2020 regular season was Kelce and Hill in Week 12 when they won impressively at Tampa Bay (21 catches, 351 receiving yards).

The Bucs will need an answer for Hill. In the first meeting, he became the second player in NFL history with 13+ catches, 20+ yards per catch and 3+ touchdowns in a game, joining Jerry Rice (December 18, 1995).

His 269 receiving yards were the most by any player in a game this season and the most ever allowed by Tampa Bay.

Cooperson explained: "Let's see what the Buccaneers do to defend Tyreek Hill.

"Last meeting, Carlton Davis against Hill, Davis allowed 194 receiving yards in that game - 183 to Hill, but 194 receiving yards, the most that any one defender has allowed in any single game all season.

"Clearly, they need to do something different against Hill, that's what this might come down to.

"In that game it was one of one of the better performances by a receiver in a single game in league history, something has to be done differently to try to shut him down.

"But, of course, there's the danger that if you rotate through much of the coverage to him then Travis Kelce's open all day to catch passes and beat the defense that way.

"It is a dilemma for any defensive coordinator with two great weapons like that, it seems like it's almost impossible to stop both of them - so maybe try to stop one of them.

"It's a nightmare to try to try to defend. And clearly they struck out in trying to defend Hill the last time. Recently, no one else has been able to cover both of those receivers.

"I like Hill with the speed. I think he's tougher to bring down in the open field. Some of his runs when he gets into the open field are electrifying and what he can do after the catch is pretty dazzling.

"He's an effective rusher in addition to being a great pass catcher. In the open field, that's a big part of what makes him so dangerous."

GRONKOWSKI V KELCE

The two star tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Kelce, are also sure to capture plenty of attention and have been subject to many pre-game comparisons.

"To be fair, I don't think Gronk is a great weapon at this point," said Cooperson as he gave his verdict.

"I think he has one catch in the postseason. So he's a great blocker. That's one thing that's not mentioned about him, more than some of the other very good pass-catching tight ends.

"Cameron Brate actually is having a much more productive postseason than Gronk as far as receiving.

"It's essentially a case where Kelce has inherited the mantle from Gronkowski as the game's elite tight end. He has statistically, in terms of receptions and yards, surpassed a lot of what Gronk has done.

"Five straight 1,000-yard seasons - unprecedented for a tight end. Kelce is such a weapon, he's almost a wide receiver playing tight end.

"He's such a weapon in the red zone, he is such a weapon over the middle, he's a weapon on deep throws. There's not much in his game that he can't do.

"And there's not much that they don't use him to do. He's having the best season ever by a tight end and he's destroying the tight end record book.

"His next catch, assuming he gets a catch in the Super Bowl, that will be number 127 of the season, which will be the most ever by a tight end over a regular season and playoffs combined."

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