The Buccaneers gave up 543 yards while falling behind 20-7 in the first half of their 27-24 Week 12 loss to Kansas City, but they found a much better plan for dealing with the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
Kansas City didn’t manage a touchdown en route to a 31-9 loss that dashed their hopes of a repeat as NFL champions. Patrick Mahomes was 26-of-49 for 270 yards and two interceptions in what may have been his worst performance as a professional quarterback and the architect of the Bucs’ successful approach was defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
After the game, Bowles said the guys up front “hunted” while the secondary “took away some of the underneath throws” to leave the Chiefs and Mahomes with nowhere to go with the ball.
“The biggest thing was trying to take away the first read,” Bowles said. “If you take away the first read, you know he’s got to drift and hold it, and you know that that’s a dangerous thing because he can run and he can make plays with his feet, but we didn’t want him sitting in the pocket, just zinging dimes on us all day, either. So, the d-line got some pressure on him and was making him run and making him a little bit uncomfortable, and I thought that was key for us.”
Mahomes looked more than a little bit uncomfortable, which is something that we’ve rarely seen since he entered the league. That’s a credit to the work done by Bowles and the entire defensive unit in their biggest test of the year.