Some thoughts on Sunday’s Big Game
I was certainly surprised by the result. Even though I had watched Tampa’s defense stifle Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, I never expected them to do the same to Patrick Mahomes and all of his weapons. That was a ferocious, courageous performance by the Bucs’ D. They got consistent pressure to Mahomes, something every other team the Chiefs played this year struggled to do, while still bottling up Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. They kept the Chiefs from ever getting a consistent running attack going. In the fourth quarter, when you expect the team the Chiefs have been carving up through the first 45 minutes start to wilt, it was KC that looked gassed and Tampa that looked energized.
To me that was the key to the game. But obviously a lot of credit is due to Tom Brady. Once again he made many of us look dumb. If you told me that Tampa’s D would play that well, I could understand him having a workman-like, late Peyton Manning performance and guiding the Bucs to the win. But he was fantastic. It’s really mind-boggling how he can continue to do this, ESPECIALLY in his first year on a new team, in a new system, with new teammates. He sure picked the right demon to sell his soul to.
The biggest question to me this morning is how do we begin to separate Brady from Bill Belichick. It’s impossible to say that Belichick deserves no credit for coaching Brady to his first six Super Bowl wins. But last night’s result sure shifts the balance of power in that relationship.
Brady has been firmly established as the GOAT QB for a few years now. Last night he put the bar so far out into the stratosphere it’s difficult to imagine anyone catching him, at least in terms of Super Bowl wins.
The GOAT QB debate is such a tough one. Tom Brady is not the most gifted man to ever play his position. He’s not the most physically impressive. He’s not the most complete. He doesn’t possess the biggest arm. For much of his career Peyton Manning and Drew Brees were better than him. Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers are better than him today. But the fucker has seven Super Bowl titles and there is no amount of arguing that can dethrone him from the top of the quarterback mountain.
As it became more apparent that the Bucs would win, I started thinking about what this meant for Mahomes and the Chiefs. At first glance, this is a blip. In fact, I’m going on record to say, as long as he is healthy next year, Mahomes is going to go medieval on the NFL, break just about every single season QB record, and lead the Chiefs to a 16–0 regular season. The great ones harvest more anger from losing than happiness from winning, and I think he’s going to destroy everything in his path next year.
However, this is another missed opportunity in whatever window the Chiefs have to surround Mahomes with top tier talent. Anyone who has watched the Chiefs the last three years understands that the Chiefs will be Super Bowl contenders as long as Mahomes is healthy. The question is how long can the Chiefs keep top-tier talent around him?
I’m not familiar enough with the Chiefs roster to know who is set to become a free agent either this spring or next, but these windows of opportunity can close faster than expected. NFL careers tend to go from peak to mediocre quickly. Mahomes should be great for another decade-plus. Will the parts around him last as long?
The Chiefs have an excellent front office, so they seem well situated to draft smartly to replace outgoing, expensive talent with younger, cheaper players. Mahomes elevates those around him, which is a huge bonus. But it is insanely tough to hit in the draft over-and-over.
Maybe I’m an idiot and the Chiefs are going to manage the roster around Mahomes just fine, keeping the o-line stout, keeping the offense stocked with explosive backs and receivers, and fielding a defense that can prevent games from turning into stressful 48–45 track meets every week.
I expect Mahomes to win at least one more Super Bowl in Kansas City. Which, when you look at the history of the franchise, is pretty freaking great.
Losing last night, along with two years ago in the AFC title game, could be the difference between Mahomes getting a chance to challenge Brady’s Super Bowl record, and topping out somewhere in the Manning(s), Elway, Montana range. Which is still rarified air, but would, unfairly, feel like a bit of a letdown.
I was neutral last night. I was actually rooting for both teams to lose. But, holy crap did the Chiefs get a bad whistle, especially in the first half. It’s not that every call against the Chiefs was awful; upon review almost all were legit. It’s that they always came in huge moments and there weren’t corresponding calls against the Bucs. Yet it still felt like the Chiefs were very much in the game until late in the fourth quarter.
Upset of the night: Andy Reid making dumb clock decisions. It was hilarious seeing my Twitter feed fill up with Eagles fan reliving stupid time management moments from his years in Philly. Seriously, he’s one of the best offensive coaches ever, but still hasn’t figured out how to make the most basic decisions about time.
One more legacy note. Maybe I’m having a moment of selective memory, but I don’t think people hated Joe Montana the way they do Brady. Montana had an Aaron Rodgers quality to him: he was everyone’s second favorite QB. Even if he beat your team there was something cool about him that made you admire him.
But maybe that’s just because 30 years have passed since Joe played and I’m forgetting how people were sick of him, too.
How sadly ironic it was for the same league that blackballed Colin Kaepernick to display “criminal justice reform” banners at their championship game.
Finally, what the fuck kind of sports jacket was Peyton Manning wearing? Some shit you can only get away with if you’re super rich and from the south. Or was this a hint that he’s going into the Hall of Fame as a Bronco? That will cause a ruckus around here if it happens.
Will Ferrell’s GM commercial was my favorite. The Michael B. Jordan Alexa commercial was outstanding, too. The Jason Alexander hoodie ad for Tide rounded out my top three.
Springsteen in Kansas was pretty fresh.
I generally do not like the light beer seltzer fad, and think people who drink them are horrible human beings. But the lemons to lemonade ad by Bud Light seltzer was appropriate for the moment.
Worst commercial of the night: the oat milk guy singing in his oat field.
And I did not get why Vince Lombardi, who has been dead longer than I’ve been alive, needs to be re-animated to talk about the state of the world.
I thought The Weeknd was an odd choice. Sure, you couldn’t go 90 seconds without hearing “Blinding Lights” over the past year, and it never got old, which is a sign of a genius song. But he’s not like a universally beloved artist with a huge swath of hits everyone knows. At least Bruno Mars had a handful of songs that you either knew or sounded like songs you knew. Plus, The Weeknd might be a little too artsy for the Super Bowl audience.
I thought his performance was fine. Not great, not terrible, and definitely not memorable. The audio being awful didn’t help.
I was explaining to the girls how who performs gets selected, and how sometimes artists are asked and decline. We all agreed that Ariana Grande is the most obvious youngish artist who should be on stage next. Bieber is probably on that list. I’m sure Pearl Jam has been asked and declined multiple times. There seems to be building momentum for Foo Fighters to get a turn. Maybe we can re-animate Prince and try him again.