Super bowl LV was a game for expectations. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady, had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Until last season, Brady had played and won six Super bowl titles with the New England Patriots. With Brady being 43 years of age, many questioned his ability to perform, especially without Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Opposing quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, also had expectations to live up too. Mahomes claimed the Superbowl last year, as he beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20. Mahomes was expected to win once again, after a dominant regular season with his star-studded offence.
Mahomes being 18 years younger than Brady, it was the battle between ‘the best quarterback ever’ and ‘the best quarterback right now’. Despite the Chiefs having a better regular season record and performing during the play-offs, the Bucs dominated the game from the start as it ended 31-9.
Not only was it a game for anticipation, but it was a game for history. Sarah Thomas became the first female official to referee a Superbowl game. A great move forward. Tampa also became the first team to win a Superbowl with all three coordinators being black and two full-time female coaches. It is amazing to see this diversity within sport.
The Bucs are also the only team to play the Superbowl in their own stadium. Due to Covid-19, only 33% of fans were able to attend the game. In replacement, 30,000 cut outs were put in the stands – I feel sorry for whoever had that job.
Was it easy to understand?
If it was your first time watching an American football game, I can understand if you were completely confused.
Let me explain.
The game is made up of four quarters, each 15 minutes long. One team will be on offence and one team will be on defence. Each side has 15 players on the field at one time.
The offence want to advance the ball forward to score a touchdown, the defence want to prevent them from doing this. If the defence are successful in preventing them, the teams will switch offence and defence.
A touchdown is worth six points. The offence can then kick for one point or try to score again for two points. If a team is unable to score a touchdown, they may kick a field goal which is worth three points. After this, the teams will switch offence and defence.
The winner is the team with the most points – you didn’t need me to tell you that?
What was difficult to understand?
As someone who has a comprehensive understanding of the game, there is still some things I don’t understand.
Why is the broadcast so long? The game has 60 minutes of playing time. With timeouts and breaks, it can take longer. But for the broadcast to last three to four hours is ridiculous. It is made so long by the number of advertisements and sponsors. I simply don’t understand it because it quickly begins to lose your audience. I do understand adverts are now part of sport, but three to four hours is crazy.
Why is it called football? Firstly, the ball isn’t even a ball. It’s egg shaped. Secondly, the ball is in the player’s hands most of the time. Instead of football, it should be called ‘handball’ or ‘hand-egg’.
In terms of the game, how did the Bucs defence completely dominate the Chiefs offence? The Chiefs offence is made up of Mahomes, running back Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Across the 2020 season, the trio combined for an impressive 7,432 yards and 64 touchdowns.
However, Tampa’s defence held the offence to just nine points, without a touchdown. The defensive line put Mahomes under intense pressure, giving him little time to throw. In addition, the coverage prevented the quarterback from finding his receivers. It’s hard to understand how they were able to do such a good job.
Things that were impressive
It goes without saying, the most impressive thing is Brady’s legacy. He was drafted by the Patriots with 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. His scouting report was a list of weaknesses longer than my arm. No one expected anything of him.
However, under Belichick, he became a god among quarterbacks. His ability to throw, read defences and lead a team is unrivalled. He won six Super bowl titles with the Patriots and after Super bowl LV, he has won more titles than any other franchise in the NFL. Oh, by the way, he’s doing this at the age of 43. Legendary.
Alongside Brady was tight end Robert Gronkowski and running back Leonard Fournette. Gronkowski caught six catches for 67 yards, while Fournette ran for 89 yards on 16 carries. Both have had impressive seasons as ‘Gronk’ returned from retirement and Fournette found form.
On the opposing side was Mahomes. Despite facing a fierce Bucs defence, he still threw for 270 yards on 53% completion. Plus, he threw some incredible passes while being tackled. Pat showed he is here to stay.
Things to bring into football
I know this is about American football, but I refuse to refer to football as ‘soccer’.
There is a number of things football could learn from American football.
1. Introduce divisions. The NFL is made up of two divisions and within these divisions are sub-divisions. These divisions are based on where the teams are located. Teams within divisions and sub-divisions are closer to each other. Teams still play a number of teams across the league but play teams in their division more often. This means that rivalries are played more often. Who doesn’t want to see Tottenham vs Arsenal?
2. Introduce the NFL season structure. The season is made up of the regular season and play-offs. The teams who finish in the top positions in the divisions qualify for the play-offs. Teams then face each other on a knock-out basis, until two teams compete in the Super bowl. Just imagine a Superbowl in football and the games leading up to it. The match-ups would not only be incredible but the build up around the games would be electric.
3. No draws. The preparation for a football game is always great, whether you’re at the stadium, at the pub or at home. However, the anticipation for a game can often be let down with a draw. Instead of ending the game and everyone going home, introduce an overtime period. The NFL has a period of 10 minutes with the ‘golden goal’ rule. Fan engagement is retained and the elation when one team wins is incomparable.
By Harry Hughes