There is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot, “Defense wins championships”. It’s not an exaggeration. Though the offense will get much of the credit, the defense is who showed up and stopped one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL to secure a championship.
In week 12 the Buccaneers faced off against the Kansas City Chefs without defensive tackle Vita Vea. For the Super Bowl, things would be different. His presence was immediately felt. From the first drive to the end of the game Vea collapsed the pocket consistently to the point that Patrick Mahomes found himself outside the pocket more than he liked. With the addition of Vea for this game and the loss of starting left and right tackles for the Chiefs, this game would be drastically different. Above all, on many occasions, the Kansas City offensive line was overwhelmed. Unaccustomed to being pressured Mahomes faced a total of 29 pressures. It should also be noted this was not due to a blitz scheme.
The Game Plan
Todd Bowles re-wrote his script for this game. The blitzing pressure game gave way to an eliminating weapons game. Ultimately, and consistently throughout this match up the defense had two players on Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. Taking away the primary weapons of the Chiefs created a vast amount of friction and forced Mahomes to hold the ball for longer than he would like to. Though it did not create as many coverage sacks as one would like it certainly did its part of disrupting the rhythm. The Chiefs offense was never able to gain or maintain momentum.
A Telling Story: Statistics
Riding a tidal wave of momentum the “Grave Diggers” and the defense showed up to play. In week 12 Mahomes had three touchdowns all while going 37 of 49. It turns out that double coverage on two of Mahomes weapons and the insertion of Vita Vea against a depleted offensive line would change things drastically. Well, Buccaneers fans saw it. Again, underrated the defense came out firing and finished in a destructive manner. Mahomes finished with only 26 of 49 passes completed. Additionally, the zone/umbrella shell caused havoc. Furthermore, Mahomes finished with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Subsequently, the “Grave Digger” walked away with nine pass deflections. Many of which came at key moments and third downs.
This was simply brilliant game planning by Todd Bowls. Couple that with a dominating front four and a stifling secondary, well, you’re going to win games. In this case, the Super Bowl.
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