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The Sports Report: Tom Brady leads Buccaneers to Super Bowl title

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady shouts after running on to the field before.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady shouts after running on the field before Super Bowl 55.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. I don’t follow football too much, but there was apparently some sort of big game Sunday. So we might as well talk about it.

Sam Farmer on the Super Bowl: The most otherworldly of NFL seasons ended Sunday in the most familiar of ways.

With Tom Brady lifting the Lombardi Trophy.

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Billed as a Super Bowl matchup for the ages – Brady versus Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes – it turned out to be a victory for the aged, as the 43-year-old Tampa Bay quarterback outplayed the upstart superstar 18 years his junior to win, 31-9, and secure an unprecedented seventh ring.

“You want to get this far, you’ve got to get the job done,” Brady said. “We did it.”

Brady threw three touchdown passes, no interceptions, and was named the game’s most valuable player. He was the most celebrated NFL acquisition of the offseason, signing with the Buccaneers after two decades and six Super Bowl victories in New England.

“It’s been an amazing year,” he said. “We got off to a good start, 7-2, then we had a little rough stretch where we kind of found our identity, and we played a lot better football in December and January.”

No doubt to the relief of Tampa Bay fans, Brady said during the trophy presentation, “I’ll be back.”

The pandemic season ended in pure pandemonium as confetti rained at Raymond James Stadium at the end of a historic game, as Tampa Bay was the first team to play a Super Bowl on its home field.

This Super Bowl originally was going to be held in Los Angeles but was awarded to Tampa because of SoFi Stadium construction delays. Next year, L.A. will play host to the Super Bowl for the first time since the Rose Bowl staged one at the end of the 1993 season.

The Buccaneers, who were 3 ½-point underdogs, clinched the second championship in club history and added to the stockpile of “Champa Bay,” which in the last six months won a Stanley Cup and reached the World Series before losing to the Dodgers.

The game marked the first time in the Mahomes era the Chiefs suffered a double-digit defeat. Not since 2016 at Texas Tech had Mahomes started and lost a game by more than one score.

“They were the better team today,” said Mahomes, who had no touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 52.3. “They beat us pretty good.”

Kansas City had backups at both tackle spots, and they were no match for the ferocious pass rush of the Buccaneers. According to ESPN, Mahomes (29 pressures) was under more heat than any quarterback in NFL history, surpassing the 25 pressures on Buffalo’s Jim Kelly in Super Bowl XXVI.

Conversely, Brady was pressured four times by the pass rush – the fewest in any of his 10 Super Bowls. Much of that was due to the effectiveness of the Tampa Bay ground game. The Buccaneers’ Leonard Fournette rushed for a game-high 89 yards in 16 carries, including a 27-yard touchdown run.

Kansas City converted just three of 13 third downs. Chiefs coach Andy Reid praised Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and blamed himself for the lack of production.

“I could have done a whole lot better to put these guys in position to make plays,” Reid said. “It just didn’t work. Give credit to Todd for the job he did. He got us.”

Reid’s 35-year-old son, Britt, who coaches outside linebackers for the Chiefs, was back in Kansas City in a hospital after having allegedly caused a three-car collision on Thursday night that left a 5-year-old child critically injured. Britt Reid reportedly told an officer at the scene that he had between two and three drinks and was on a prescription for Adderall.

“I’d be lying if I said my heat didn’t bleed for the people involved in it,” Andy Reid said.

Asked if the situation was a distraction, he said: “We put the game plan in the week before, so the distraction wasn’t a distraction as far as the game plan goes. Football standpoint, two different things. I don’t think that was the problem.”

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Check out all of our Super Bowl coverage by clicking here.

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Odds to win 2022 Super Bowl (from sportsbetting.com):

Chiefs 6/1

Buccaneers 7/1

Bills 10/1

Rams 12/1

Packers 12/1

Ravens 12/1

Saints 15/1

49ers 20/1

Seahawks 20/1

Colts 25/1

Dolphins 25/1

Steelers 25/1

Browns 28/1

Cowboys 28/1

Titans 28/1

Chargers 33/1

Vikings 33/1

Patriots 33/1

Cardinals 40/1

Bears 40/1

Raiders 50/1

Eagles 50/1

Broncos 50/1

Falcons 66/1

Panthers 66/1

Giants 66/1

Texans 66/1

Washington 66/1

Bengals 100/1

Jets 100/1

Lions 150/1

Jaguars 150/1

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CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: With the injured Patrick Beverley and Paul George unable to roam the perimeter, swiping dribbles and cutting off driving lanes, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue has reiterated in recent days that his team’s defense, down two of its best, needed to accept the challenge of guarding tougher in one-on-one situations.

As the Clippers were reminded Sunday, there might be no greater challenge in the NBA than staying in front of Sacramento guard De’Aaron Fox, whom Lue called before tipoff “probably the fastest guy in the league right now.”

Two hours later, after Fox dropped 36 points during the Kings’ 113-110 victory at Staples Center, his ranking was “not a question,” said Clippers guard Reggie Jackson, who has seen hundreds of guards during his 10-year career.

“That man’s moving at Bugatti speed, honestly,” Jackson said.

In becoming the fifth consecutive opposing guard to score at least 24 points against the Clippers’ depleted perimeter defense, Fox hit another gear in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points.

When the Clippers took a two-point lead with 5 minutes, 44 seconds remaining, Fox ensured it would be their last. Within the next 90 seconds he drilled a pair of three-pointers in front of the Clippers’ bench. Two minutes after that, he’d bolted to the rim for two layups. With 31 seconds remaining and the Kings up by one, Fox’s drive forced a second Clippers defender to pull away from Sacramento center Richaun Holmes under the basket, and in a split-second decision, Fox dumped off an assist for a dunk and three-point lead.

For a Clippers defense that ranks second-worst in the NBA in stopping pick-and-roll ballhandlers — a trend that is all the more difficult to stop as long as Beverley and George remain out — it was a nightmare matchup.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: Aaron Donald did not plan to watch every snap when the Kansas City Chiefs played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Rams star defensive tackle, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year as of Saturday, is focused on next season, which will end with Super Bowl LVI being played at SoFi Stadium.

“That’s what you prepare for — to have the opportunity to be on that stage to be playing for a world championship,” Donald said Sunday during a videoconference call with reporters, “And that’s what we’re scratching and working to get, no matter where you’re playing at.

“But it’s that much better if we can accomplish that, do it back in L.A.”

Donald, 29, joined Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor and Houston Texans’ lineman J.J. Watt as the only players to win the defensive player of the year award three times. Donald, who had 13½ sacks this season, also won in 2017 and 2018.

The Rams’ 2020 season ended with a 32-18 NFC divisional-round defeat to the Green Bay Packers. Donald was limited because of a rib injury suffered during a wild-card victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He had no sacks and was in tears on the sideline as the final seconds ticked down in Green Bay.

“Having an injury, I felt like I wasn’t able to play at my best and do what I had to do — I was limited,” he said. “I kind of felt like I let my team down.

KINGS

Chandler Stephenson scored twice, including the winner early in the third period, and the Golden Knights beat the Kings 4-3 on Sunday.

The Golden Knights improved to 7-1-1 and moved into a first-place tie with St. Louis and Colorado in the West Division. The Blues and Avalanche were scheduled to play but were postponed with Colorado shut down due to COVID-19 protocols.

Reilly Smith and Zach Whitecloud also scored for Vegas. Robin Lehner overcame a wild first period and made 29 saves, including all 11 he faced on four penalty kills.

Anze Kopitar, Adrian Kempe and Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored for the Kings, and Cal Petersen made 29 saves. The Kings have lost their last four games.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1936 — Jay Berwanger, University of Chicago halfback and Heisman Trophy winner, is the first player ever selected in the NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles make the pick and eventually trade his rights to the Chicago Bears.

1950 — Man o’ War is selected the greatest horse of the half century by The Associated Press. Man o’ War, as a 2- and 3-year-old, is a winner in 20 of 21 races and holds five track records.

1962 — Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scores 59 points in a 136-120 victory over the New York Knicks and beats his own single-season scoring record of 3,033 by six points.

1964 — Billy Kidd and James Heuga win the first men’s Olympic Alpine skiing medals for the United States with a silver and bronze in the slalom.

1970 — Gordie Howe becomes the first NHL player to score 750 goals. Howe gets the milestone by beating Philadelphia Flyers goalie Bernie Parent 3:10 into the third period, but the Red Wings lose 5-3 at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium.

1983 — Wayne Gretzky puts on a show, scoring four goals in the third period of the Campbell Conference’s 9-3 win against the Wales Conference in the NHL All-Star Game held at New York’s Nassau Coliseum. He breaks Ted Lindsay’s record of three goals in an All-Star Game, set in 1950.

1986 — Atlanta’s Spud Webb, at 5-foot-7, wins NBA Slam Dunk competition. Webb receives a perfect 50 from the judges in the last two rounds to shock defending dunk champion Dominique Wilkins and the crowd at Dallas’ Reunion Arena.

1987 — Seattle’s Tom Chambers, a last-minute replacement for the injured Ralph Sampson, scores a game-high 34 points to lead the West to a 154-149 overtime win over the East in the NBA All-Star Game before 34,275 at the Kingdome.

1997 — Scotty Bowman becomes the first NHL coach to win 1,000 games as Detroit beats Pittsburgh 6-5 on Brendan Shanahan’s overtime goal. Bowman, the coach of six Stanley Cup champion teams, is 1,000-452-255 in regular-season games and 162-101 in the playoffs.

1998 — Johanna Ikonen scores twice and Tiia Reima and Sari Krooks score a goal and an assist as Finland beats Sweden 6-0 in the first Olympic women’s ice hockey game.

2003 — Mario Lemieux becomes the 10th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career assists. He has four in Pittsburgh’ 5-2 victory in Boston.

2004 — Marc Bulger throws a Pro Bowl-record four TD passes, and Detroit’s Dre’ Bly returns an interception 32 yards for the go-ahead score with 4:50 to play during the NFC’s rally from an 18-point deficit in the final 13 minutes of a 55-52 victory over the AFC. It’s the highest-scoring Pro Bowl in history.

2014 — At the Sochi Games, Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen becomes the oldest Winter Olympic gold medalist at 40 and ties Bjoern Daehlie’s record for most medals (12) won at the Winter Games. Bjoerndalen wins the men’s 10-kilometer biathlon sprint, breaking the record held by Canadian skeleton racer Duff Gibson, who was 39 when he won gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

2016 — Breanna Stewart has 25 points and 10 rebounds as No. 1 UConn again proves who rules the women’s game, running past No. 2 South Carolina 66-54.

And finally

2021 Super Bowl highlights. Watch them here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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