LV: an NFL Playoff and Super Bowl recap


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Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady celebrate their Super Bowl LV victory together. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his seven championships.

For the last two years, I have written an NFL playoffs recap. It only seems right that my third and final football article recaps a year where the NFL—and the Scroll, for that matter—overcame the coronavirus pandemic and still managed to satisfy its audience.


Wild Card

This year, Wild Card Weekend became Super Wild Card Weekend, as the NFL changed from six playoff teams per conference to seven playoff teams, with only one team getting a first-round bye in each conference. This resulted in a total of six Wild Card games to kick off the 2020-2021 playoffs. The Buffalo Bills held off the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Lamar Jackson got his first playoff win as a Baltimore Raven with a victory over the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns capitalized on five forced turnovers to score 48 points and upset the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

“[The most surprising part was] definitely the Steelers losing and how they lost,” Lamarius Robinson (10) said. “Especially them giving up 28 points in the first quarter. That was pretty bad.”

In the National Football Conference (NFC), the New Orleans Saints defeated the Chicago Bears, the Los Angeles Rams upset the Seattle Seahawks, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their first playoff game since 2002 with a win over the Washington Football Team. 


With the new playoff structure, only the top seed in each conference, the American Football Conference’s (AFC) Kansas City Chiefs and the NFC’s Green Bay Packers, entered the divisional round fresh off a week of rest from a first-round bye. Despite losing star quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a concussion in the third quarter, the Chiefs held on to beat the Browns 22-17. The Bills defeated the Ravens 17-3 in a defense-dominated game capped off by a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bills’ cornerback Taron Johnson. 

In the NFC, the Packers held on to win against the Rams 32-18 after a game-clinching 58-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Allen Lazard in the fourth quarter. In a battle between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers got the better of Drew Brees and the Saints, winning 30-20 and intercepting Brees three times in what many expect to be Brees’ last game.

“It’s always sad to see someone who works so hard lose like that,” Robinson said. “I feel like [Brees] deserved better, but you know, it didn’t happen.”

Conference Championship

The final four hoped to ride their momentum from the Divisional round into the Conference Championship round and win a trip to the Super Bowl. For the AFC title, the Bills headed to Kansas City to face the Chiefs, and for the NFC title, the Buccaneers traveled to Green Bay to play the Packers. 

In Kansas City, the Bills capitalized on a Chiefs’ muffed punt to go up 9-0 early in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Bills, the Chiefs are known to come back from early deficits in the playoffs, as they were down double digits in all three of their playoff games last year, yet still won the Super Bowl. Sure enough, Mahomes led the Chiefs on a 38-6 scoring run, throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns. The Bills still played until the end, scoring nine points in the final four minutes to make the final score 38-24. 

In Green Bay, neither team took control until the very end of the first half, when Brady and wide receiver Scotty Miller hooked up for a 39-yard touchdown to take a 21-10 lead into the locker room. The Packers fought back to trail 28-23 at the end of the third and with 2:05 left in the fourth, had a 4th and goal at the eight-yard line. Instead of going for the tie, Head Coach Matt LeFleur elected to kick a field goal, hoping the defense could get a stop and give the offense one last chance. A controversial pass interference call gave the Buccaneers a game-sealing first down, and, despite Brady’s three interceptions, a trip to the Super Bowl with a 31-23 win.

“One thing that stuck with me was just how bad the [Packers’] defense was… In my opinion, their defense lacks in general, but it really showed up that game… they weren’t as prepared,” Kyndle Lee (12) said.

Super Bowl

For the first time in NFL history, a Super Bowl team played in their home stadium for the Super Bowl as the Buccaneers faced the Chiefs in Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium. 

The game started slowly with the Bucs leading 7-3. The momentum seemed to shift in the Chiefs’ direction after they stopped the Bucs on a fourth and goal at the one-yard line, but later, costly penalties changed a Chiefs’ interception into a second Rob Gronkowski touchdown catch to extend the Bucs’ lead to 14-3. With one minute left in the first half, the Chiefs kicked a field goal, only to allow Brady to connect with Antonio Brown for a 1-yard touchdown catch, making the halftime score 21-6. 

Trying to mount another miraculous playoff comeback, the Chiefs marched down the field at the start of the second half but could not find the endzone, again settling for a field goal. The Bucs responded with a clinical, 74-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 27-yard touchdown run by Leonard Fournette. A Bucs’ interception on the following Chiefs’ drive led to a field goal to push the Bucs lead to 31-9. On the Chiefs’ final three possessions, the Bucs’ defense forced two turnovers on downs and another interception, sealing their Super Bowl victory and highlighting their excellent defensive gameplan. In the end, 43-year-old Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl, more than any single franchise in the NFL, in his first year in Tampa Bay. 

“I woke up Sunday morning, and I had this feeling in my tummy that Tom and the boys were going to do it…” Gordon Brode (12) said. “How can you wake up on that beautiful Sunday morning and believe that someone is taking down the goat.”