Updated: Feb 10
by Lonn Phillips Sullivan
As one Super Bowl trophy passes hands from one team after another, the one common theme from these squads??
They all contain former Tigers in key positions, from Tyrann Mathieu, Darrell Williams of the Chiefs the past two years (now adding Clyde Edwards-Helaire and featuring other former Tigers like Morris Claiborne on their 2019 roster) to Tampa Bay's illustrious unit filled to the brim with purple and gold (Leonard Fournette, Devin White, Kevin Minter and Cyril Grayson while 2019 title-winner Michael Divinity was on the roster to begin the season), or from the last few years the Rams' Michael Brockers & Andrew Whitworth, the Eagles' Jalen Mills, The Patriots' Danny Etling, Jeremy Hill, Barkevious Mingo LSU has become the national brand now known as....
Remember the line from Terminator 2 where Arnold says "come with me if you want to live?" well, now picture Coach Orgeron calling recruits and letting out a rugged "come with me if you want to run the NFL".....
This year's NFLSU Odyssey has specifically been one of intensity and maniacal vision from many former Tigers as the 2019 team took on the pros:
Vikings' receiver Justin Jefferson broke the all-time rookie receiving records for the franchise and the league, most likely having to settle for 2nd place in the Offensive Rookie of The Year voting to Chargers' QB Justin Herbert.
By week 2, Bengals' QB Joe Burrow erased every single question or doubt his most egregious haters clung on to, as for the rest of us, it was an unbelievable privilege to watch him play as a rookie. Throwing darts through traffic, escaping Mike Vrabel's Titans defense like Gregory Hines performing a tap-dancing routine, making plays just as he had the year prior at LSU...he was setting the NFL alight before his untimely horror injury (against the Washington Football Team's former Alabama & Miss State linemen Jonathan Allen & Montez Sweat).
But the capper has been the wondrous two teams we have facing off here in the Super Bowl...Pat Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu, Darrell Williams & Clyde Edwards-Helaire's Kansas City Chiefs against Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, Devin White, Kevin Minter & Cyril Grayson's Tampa Bay Buccaneers...squaring off inside Tampa Bay's own Raymond James Stadium for a dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.
Tampa Bay had to ride three straight road playoff games to get to this point: the first team to ever host the Super Bowl...it's crazy...I always wondered which team, which franchise, which city would become the first.
While they had to brave three road games, they're not the first to achieve this distinction, yet they could become the first to win the whole thing while winning road Wild Card, Divisional Playoffs and Championship games since Rodgers' 2010 Packers.
Helping Tampa Bay to their first Super Bowl (as well as first playoff wins) since 2002, taking 43 year old Tom Brady to his 10th Super Bowl appearance & first sans Belichick...Tampa's illustrious cast of big time LSU Tigers have delivered for Bruce Arians and Tom Brady:
First off....the machine of Tampa's defense...Devin White, craving his first title ring after graduating a year before LSU's 2019 run (which would've been Devin's senior year).
The plays we've seen from Devin White this postseason have been unnervingly awesome and make you angry when seeing his Pro Bowl snub for a second straight year; White changed the Saints' game single-handedly and did it again vs Aaron Rodgers and the Packers up in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, forcing 3 turnovers in 2 postseason appearances.
Then there's Leonard Fournette, the former LSU running back colossus who's overwhelming offensive versatility is finally being maximized within a Tom Brady offense. Watching him juke, spin and bounce off multiple Packers' defenders as he scored a game-controlling touchdown in the NFC title game made it clear....that was the greatest play of Fournette's career...
2011 Tiger Kevin Minter performed brilliantly against Washington (during the Wild Card game) without Devin White, wrapping up 6 tackles and a PD. Look for Minter to make another impact off the bench throughout the Super Bowl.
Among Brady's army of receivers, former Tiger Cyril Grayson stands somewhere near the bottom of the roster list (4 targets on the season, 1 catch for 3 yards total). But that doesn't mean much going into this one game odyssey....all hands on deck: Tom Brady throws anyone the ball and as talented as Cyril is, he'll get his chances if called upon against the Chiefs.
On the other sideline, Andy Reid's Chiefs are looking for destiny...trying to become the first team to win back to back Super Bowls since the 2003-2004 Patriots....and if they accomplish this feat, it'll be thanks to the contributions & leadership of three former Tigers.
Tyrann Mathieu is the premier DB in the NFL...stalking the secondary, crashing the backfield, busting over the middle passes. Having already picked off the Browns' Baker Mayfield during the Divisional Playoffs, Mathieu will be hunting Brady's every move.
The chess match between Tyrann Mathieu & Tom Brady will be just as fun to watch as Devin White's battle against Patrick Mahomes, either defender possessing second to none anticipation and reading of the game.
Mathieu's leadership was key in galvanizing the Chiefs' defense last Super Bowl against the 49ers, pushing his teammates. Tyrann's words on the sideline helped create a series of stops, handing Kansas City's Mahomes the ball & the opportunity to produce their historic come from behind victory.
Under the radar running back Darrell Williams has proven to be a steady, consistent bruiser for Andy Reid's offense, demonstrating a different vibe to their usual run and gun style. Time after time throughout the postseason, Williams delivered one big first down after another. He's an amazing former Tiger who's already wearing one ring on his finger after his break out 2020 postseason and Super Bowl win....will he make it two in a row?
That could depend on how well he's complimented by his fellow Tiger and Chiefs' teammate, Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The rookie's pacy runs, vision and unbreakable will out of the backfield could be just what is needed for Mahomes to deliver a second consecutive Super Bowl while defeating the G.O.AT QB Tom Brady.
Clyde will need to make an impact and I believe he will. Just look at his contributions during the AFC title game, scoring a TD from limited touches and involvement, but still making a key difference.
As his highlights vs Clemson show, Clyde can make defenses pay when titles are on the line: his nearly 150 total yards of offense helped bring the Tigers back in that game after succumbing to an early 10 point deficit.
38-34 KANSAS CITY OVER TAMPA BAY
Tyrann Mathieu: 8 TACKLES, 1 FF, 1 SACK, 2 PDs
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 102 RUSHNG YARDS, 43 RECEIVING YARDS, 2 TDs (both receiving)
Devin White: 13 TACKLES, 2.5 TFL, 1 PD
Kevin Minter: 4 TACKLES, 1 PD
Leonard Fournette: 91 RUSHING YARDS, 26 RECEIVING YARDS, 1 RUSHING TD
Darrell Williams: 51 RUSHING YARDS, 1 RUSHING TD
Cyril Grayson: 1 CATCH, 11 YARDS
CLYDE wins MVP
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC
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