by Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Super Bowl LV has come and gone, one of the most overly hyped matchups of all time, Brady vs Mahomes...Kansas City's defending champion Chiefs vs Tampa Bay's Buccaneers, the first ever home Super Bowl team....
The hype was huge.... potential future HOF QB vs First ballot HOF QB...Brady's first Patriots-less trip through the playoffs delivering three road victories against the #1 defensive line in the NFL (Washington) and two title-winning quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers & Drew Brees...
Following last night's victory, Tampa Bay overcame three consecutive Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, eclipsing a gutty performance from Pat Mahomes for the win....and if not for the Buccaneers' recent drafting / signing of LSU brethren, Brady doesn't get back to the big game (or win it) this year.
Every Tiger, when given the chance, seemed to show up on the grandest stage....but altogether, LSU Tigers combined for 237 yards, Fournette's TD, White's INT, 15 tackles & 2 TFL...
There was plenty of Tiger on Tiger crime out there, from Fournette tackling Tyrann Mathieu after his INT off Brady (which would be taken off the board due to a controversial holding call) or Devin White issuing hard hits and a TD-saving tackle on Clyde (at least four tackles on Clyde)...
This was personal....there was plenty of trash talk as Mathieu and Fournette became engaged in warfare over and over again, not to mention the Mathieu vs Brady shenanigans...or is the reality more Brady vs Mathieu?
After Clyde Edwards-Helaire tore off a 26 yard run deep into Tampa territory, it seemed the Chiefs could get back in this game and cut Tampa's 21-9 lead, making it a 5 point game....but after that play, the Chiefs' offense were discombobulated beyond recognition...and that was all thanks to the mastery of Devin White:
Despite Tom Brady receiving another Super Bowl MVP, we all know who really dictated Super Bowl LV.
We'll get to our #1 Tiger (and player) of Super Bowl LV, but first we geaux through the key performances on the night:
3 TACKLES (2 SOLO)
-1 TD ALLOWED
This was a Super Bowl which could've gone in a very different direction for Tyrann...
Early in the game, the Chiefs' Spagnuolo defense were getting to Brady, forcing incompletions and punts; they were riding some confidence after holding Tampa Bay to a goal-line stand with Tyrann Mathieu playing a key role in stuffing Tampa's Ronald Jones II on the 1 yard line on both 3rd and 4th down.
Then, a crazy play occurred which could've changed the game:
On the cusp of Kansas City's red zone, Brady was pressured and let go of a pass a bit quicker than he would've liked, the ball flying straight into the outstretched arms of KC's Chris Jones.
Jones' left hand swatted the ball straight towards the vicinity of the Honeybadger and, while Chiefs' DB Charvarius Ward's fingerprints slid from the microscopic traces of a Tampa Bay receiver's breath on the other side of the field, Tyrann Mathieu somehow recovered & reacted to the flight of the ball twice....first from the Jones deflection & once again when Fournette flapped at it, the ball ricocheting off his hand, before popping straight into #32's grasp.
Fournette angrily tackled his fellow Tiger to the ground, the ball firmly in Mathieu's grasp....but then, we all saw the yellow flag....
In yet another demonstration of these referees' lust for a Tom Brady victory, Ward's nothing flag (which played no role in the outcome of the play) should've never been tossed...
Later on, Mathieu allowed a touchdown from a Tom Brady pass and while #32 wrestled with Tampa Bay players, the 7x Super Bowl winner disgraced himself by going out of his way to get in Mathieu's face.
When Tyrann reacted, unfazed and unwilling to back down from Brady's powderpuff antics, the referees suddenly threw an unsportsmanlike conduct flag against Mathieu, making sure the entire world knew "this is his first warning, the next will be a disqualification..."
From that point on, it was hard for Mathieu to find his groove:
It wasn't Brady who got in his head...it was the unfair ridiculousness of the refereeing within Super Bowl LV which played with him most:
Taking away one of the best Super Bowl interceptions ever from the turnover king was incredibly harsh (especially due to that flag), however it was almost too much for the former Thorpe Award finalist to take when Tom Brady got in his face and only Mathieu received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty...
After that, Mathieu became more or less a spectator, Tom using his lack of help at the DB position to work the Chiefs. Simply put, he only had to confuse Mathieu into picking the wrong read, zone or angle while attacking the vacated space, regardless of who was marking Tampa Bay's offensive weapons.
Brady was willing to bet on his guys vs the Chiefs' defenders....he wasn't going to bet on anyone vs Tyrann Mathieu...they had to take the premier DB out of the game, somehow....and that was to use his roving position-less role against him...
Arians & Brady performed this masterfully, never attacking Mathieu like Brady pretended he was....
Brady only went at Mathieu once, on the touchdown he allowed right before half to make it 21-9. On the play in question, Mathieu wasn't even supposed to be guarding Antonio Brown on the boundary....how was he only in single coverage there, with zero help? What was Spagnuolo thinking??? How did Mathieu let himself get beat, as well??
Simply put, the Chiefs' defeat isn't down to Tyrann Mathieu being beat...it's about this defense possessing only two prime secondary players, Brashaud Breeland and Tyrann....there's never help over the top for Mathieu (as he's usually the free safety, too), there's rarely anyone on Kansas City's defense who has the same drive & passion for glory as Mathieu.
If KC want another Super Bowl, they must go get another former LSU #7, the Cardinals' LSU hero Patrick Peterson at all costs, then grab a veteran safety & young LB with speed to back his playmaking qualities...
Mathieu will get a lot of crap from people like Bill Polian and his ilk, fools who'll use this as evidence that he's "out of line", especially when you appear to "mess with" Brady, every middle aged man's highly coveted wet dream....but does he deserve it?
Tyrann Mathieu is greatness personified...anyone trying to take that away from him, based on last night (or any night), is a fool.
87 TOTAL YARDS
64 RUSHING, 9 CARRIES
23 RECEIVING, 2 CATCHES
7.9 YARDS PER TOUCH
1st Downs: 4
3rd Down Conversions: 1
Gains Over 10: 4
Gains Over 15: 3
Gains Over 20: 1
Averaging 7.9 yards per touch, it's kind of insane how Andy Reid only managed to find Clyde the ball 11 times from 75 total snaps....
Totaling 87 overall yards (64 rushing from 9 carries, including a 3rd quarter-opening 26 yard long burst in which he juked past Shaquil Barrett) Clyde was the weapon Kansas City needed to win this game...the problem is....they didn't realize that fact until the game was all but over.
Sure, Devin White stuffed him in the backfield twice, but outside of Clyde's multi-threat abilities, no Chiefs player filled Tampa with fear...
Only two negative touches from Clyde all game (on a night where Hill & Kelce combined for fewer than a hundred yards before the garbage time 4th quarter) his 26 yard rushing attempt was the 2nd longest play of the Super Bowl for Kansas City (behind Kelce's 33 yard reception) and he also hauled in the 3rd longest reception of 18 yards, catching 2 of 3 total targets for 23 through the air.