Usually, stopping Patrick Mahomes is exceedingly difficult.
The Buccaneers made it sound easy.
“We didn’t blitz a lot,’’ linebacker Lavonte David said. “We just let our D-line eat.’’
What a feast it was.
What looked to be a mismatch going into Super Bowl 2021 — Buccaneers edge-rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett against two backup Chiefs offensive tackles — turned out to be the deciding factor in what turned into a 31-9 rout for the Bucs on Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium.
Mahomes, running for his life in an ever-collapsing pocket, was sacked three times (1.5 by Ndamukong Suh) and hit eight more times. There were times when he threw the ball away only after eluding pressure that forced him to dart this way and that way without finding anywhere to plant his feet and make anything other than a desperation throwaway.
Right from the start of the game, it was evident this was not going to work for Kansas City. Mike Remmers, the fill-in left tackle, was not going to be able to deal with Pierre-Paul. Andrew Wylie, the right guard forced to slide over to right tackle, was not going to be able to contend with Shaq Barrett. Mahomes was going to be on the run. Advantage, Buccaneers.
Big advantage, Buccaneers. They never stopped abusing the Kansas City backup tackles and never stopped terrorizing Mahomes.
Injuries to the starting offensive tackles, Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, triggered a tough-to-overcome scenario for the Chiefs. No team had ever won a Super Bowl starting two backup tackles. Remmers, a 31-year-old veteran who started for the Giants in 2019, filled in at right tackle when Schwartz went down with a back injury and had to move in at left tackle when Fisher tore his Achilles two weeks ago in the AFC Championship game.
This was a big theme leading into the game. Pierre-Paul was not having it.
“I don’t care,’’ he said last week. “It don’t matter. This is the freaking Super Bowl, I don’t care if they have three offensive linemen, if they’re sending two to block me, I’m going to do what I need to do, us boys are gonna do what we need to do. That’s a ‘you’ problem. They got to figure that out.’’
Asked specifically about Remmers, JPP said, “I don’t even know who that was, I’m not going to lie to you. Is that the tackle you’re talking about? I don’t too much care about it, they got to figure that out. I’m going to play some great football this weekend.’’
And so he did.
A tone was set early. Barrett on the second Bucs defensive snap stormed in on a pass rush, forcing a quick Mahomes throwaway.
“With the four-man rush sometimes we dialed up some stuff,’’ Barrett said. “Everything was effective. We had guys making everything work and anything work. We knew what was at stake and we didn’t want to start next year with no rings. We might as well have not come to the playoffs if we had to start next year with no rings.’’
Late in the first quarter, Pierre-Paul’s long reach was on display when he stuck out his left arm and with his left hand batted away a Mahomes pass that barely got past the line of scrimmage. So it goes for Pierre-Paul, who is now 8-0 in the postseason, going 4-0 with the Giants after the 2011 season and 4-0 for the Bucs this year.
The punishment of Mahomes never relented. With 6:53 remaining, Pierre-Paul nearly got a sack when he and linebacker Devin White hit Mahomes on a high-low collision. Pierre-Paul got low and inadvertently hit Mahomes in the head/neck area and was called for a roughing the passer penalty. It cost the Bucs a few yards but not long afterward, Pierre-Paul earned his second Super Bowl ring.