With the entire sports world talking about the many reasons why the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, there is one group that’s not getting enough recognition.
There was so much riding on Sunday night’s Super Bowl, both for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many believed that this was going to be the game where Patrick Mahomes was going to be handed the proverbial torch from Tom Brady. Brady and company had other plans.
The Buccaneers won the game handily, and there a lot of people who deserve credit for this win. A lot of the credit goes to head coach Bruce Arians. Although he says he doesn’t do much, Arians put together a perfect staff and was the guiding light on the coaching staff.
Tom Brady, who won the Super Bowl MVP, threw for three touchdowns and had zero interceptions. Rob Gronkowski hauled in two touchdowns, and Leonard Fournette had over 100 all-purpose yards and had a rushing touchdown. While these are impressive stats, that doesn’t even begin to cover the stats on the defensive side of the ball.
The Buccaneers won the game because of Todd Bowles and his vaunted defense. Bowles’ defense held a team that was averaging 33 points to a measly 9 points and never allowed them to get into the endzone. The most impressive part of this defensive effort is that the front four defensive linemen for the Buccaneers were able to get to Mahomes, which allowed the Bucs to drop seven players into overage.
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All of these players and coaches named above had plenty to do with the Buccaneers annihilation of the Chiefs, but there was one group of players that did not get enough recognition, and it was their play that allowed the Buccaneers to have their way with the Chiefs. That group of players is the offensive line for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The offensive line for the Buccaneers
This group is anchored by left tackle Donovan Smith, left guard Ali Marpet, and center Ryan Jensen. For most of the season, the Bus had another veteran linemen, Alex Cappa, but he fractured his ankle in the Wild Card game against the Washington Football Team. Taking the final offensive line position is rookie right tackle Tristian Wirfs.
When Cappa went down at the end of the Wild Card game, there was a lot of concern. There was a concern because the following week, the Bucs were playing in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against their rival, the New Orleans Saints, who got to Tom Brady a lot in their previous two matchups.
The Buccaneers have a run-heavy offensive scheme, and they are a lot better when they have Cappa at the right guard position, so when he went down, there were a lot of questions. The Bucs answer to these questions was Aaron Stinnie, a guard that was picked up off of waivers in 2019. The following week, Stinnie was set to make his first NFL start.
Stinnie had a great debut, and that was evident by the fact that his name was never called. Offensive linemen don’t get much credit, and so they prefer for their names to go unnoticed because that means they’re doing their job.
Heading into the Super Bowl, the Buccaneer offensive line was confident. They held up against three top-ten defensive fronts on their way to the Super Bowl. In each of their playoff games, they were able to establish a run and protect Tom Brady. The Super Bowl was more of the same.
Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones have been a good one-two punch combo in the playoffs. Jones runs more downhill, whereas Fournette is more shifty, but still can get big yards. Both of the backs averaged over 5 yards per carry in the Super Bowl. This speaks volumes to the great play of the big guys upfront. Fournette led the team in rushing, getting 89 yards on 16 carries, and Jones wasn’t far behind him rushing for 61 yards on 12 carries.
The Buccaneers had 145 rushing yards, and for a team who needs a good rushing attack to be successful, this was a pleasant sight for coaches. The offensive line bowed their backs against the Chiefs’ defense, and because of them, the Buccaneers were able to do what they want.
Along with their spectacular rush blocking, they did great on the pass blocking as well. Brady stayed clean all night, only sacked once. Brady was hardly hurried all night, as evident by how much time he had in the pocket. Brady was able to sit back, watch the plays develop, and make his third and fourth reads – something that is hard to come by in the NFL.
While the Bucs defense was the main reason why they came away with a Super Bowl victory, the unsung heroes of the game were the offensive linemen, who allowed their team to win the time of possession.
If the Buccaneers’ offensive line played poorly, there very well could have been a different Super Bowl outcome. There’s a reason why Brady raved about his new offensive line this season, and I think we just found that reason.