|3:30 PM PT4:30 PM MT5:30 PM CT6:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST5:30 PM CT3:30 UAE (+1)18:30 ET21:30 , February 7, 2021|
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida Weather: 63°, Clear Attendance: 24,835
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- The Chiefs won at Tampa Bay in Week 12, 27-24. There have been 13 previous Super Bowls between teams that met in the regular season, and the winner of the first matchup is just 6-7 in the rematch.
- This will be the second playoff game all-time between starting quarterbacks of the last two Super Bowl winners (Tom Brady won two years ago and Patrick Mahomes won last season). The other was the 1983 NFC Championship Game between San Francisco's Joe Montana and Washington's Joe Theismann.
- The Chiefs have tallied at least 250 net passing yards and 100 rushing yards in each of their last five postseason games, the longest such streak all-time.
- Andy Reid has seven playoff wins with the Chiefs (7-5), one shy of the combined total of all other head coaches in franchise history (8-14).
- Dating back to the 2010 Eagles, Andy Reid has won nine straight games played in the state of Florida (reg & post), the longest such streak all-time by a head coach of a non-Florida team. The only head coaches to win more consecutive games in Florida were Miami's Don Shula (31-game streak from 1971-74 and 12-game streak from 1984-86) and Jacksonville's Tom Coughlin (13-game streak from 1996-97).
- Tampa Bay is the fifth team all-time to win three road games in a single postseason, joining the 1985 Patriots, 2005 Steelers, 2007 Giants and 2010 Packers. The 1985 Patriots lost the Super Bowl, but the other three won.
- The Buccaneers will be the first team all-time to play the Super Bowl at their home stadium. The last playoff game at Raymond James Stadium was Super Bowl XLIII between the Steelers and Cardinals; Tampa Bay has not played a home playoff game since the 2007 Wild Card vs. the Giants.
- Tampa Bay is the 11th team all-time to score 30+ points three times in a single postseason. Nine of the previous 10 won the Super Bowl -- the only one that did not was the 2008 Cardinals. No team has ever scored 30+ points four times in a single postseason.
- The Buccaneers are 8-0 all-time when scoring 20+ points in a postseason game; no other team is undefeated in such games. Tampa Bay is just 1-9 when scoring fewer than 20 points, with the lone win coming in the 1999 Divisional vs. Washington (14-13).
- Tampa Bay was outgained 381-351 and committed three turnovers to Green Bay's two in the NFC Championship Game, but the Buccaneers still pulled out the victory. The other 48 teams to get outgained and lose the turnover battle in a road game to decide a conference or league title all lost.
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Someone will make history Sunday in a Super Bowl so filled with storylines it would fill a season of TV programming.
Tom Brady, already the true Game of Thrones king, going for a seventh ring. Patrick Mahomes, the apparent heir to the quarterbacking summit, seeking a second in a row with Kansas City - something no team has done since Brady led New England to the double in the 2003 and '04 seasons.
Brady, 43 is in his 10th NFL title game, but with a new outfit, the Buccaneers - who happen to call Tampa home. Yes, Tampa, Florida, where the Super Bowl is being played this year. Pirates of the Caribbean make port: No host team has ever played in the big one in its home stadium.
"There's a lot that comes along with the Super Bowl," says Rob Gronkowski, the three-time champion tight end who came out of retirement to reunite with Brady. "There's a lot that comes along with this week. I've been there before. I've experienced it all before. But just having it at home, cutting out the travel, knowing where you can stay, where your friends can stay, where you family can stay, it just makes it a lot easier to have it at your home stadium, big time."
Add in two sixty-something head coaches, Kansas City's Andy Reid and Tampa Bay's Bruce Arians, both offensive masterminds as comfortable with today's high-scoring, creative NFL attacks as all those kid coaches who are all the rage.
"There's nobody that would ever say a bad thing about B.A., he's just so endearing to everybody and I think everyone wants to win for him," Brady says of Arians, the kind of praise the quarterback rarely used about his previous head coach.
"He's got almost like a father figure kind of role in the building and it's because everyone loves him so much," Chiefs unanimous All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce says of Reid. "He's got an unbelievable way of getting the best out of everybody that is relating to all different aspects and all different forms of life."
Don't forget the defenses, which could easily be ignored with all the dynamism on both offenses. Tampa has probably the best set of linebackers in the NFL with Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David and Devin White, studs up front in Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul, and an ever-improving secondary.
KC has All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, linemen Frank Clark and Chris Jones - and a coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, who doesn't back off.
"I've played for a lot of coaches in high school and college," Clark notes, "and I'm not saying they were bad, but I'm not saying their intentions were to bring out the best in players. I can say that for sure with coach Spags. His intentions are not negative or anything like that. His intentions are solely to have the best defense on that field."
All of this at the end of a season played during a pandemic, yet not delayed, with no games canceled, and each of the Super Bowl participants experiencing relatively few COVID-19 setbacks.
"I think with the pandemic and the sacrifices they have all made for each other, they go to work and go home," Arians says. "They don't get to sit and eat together, don't get to have conversations, it is amazing to me how close they are. It is the commitment they made to each other to beat the virus."
The NFL and Florida health officials have approved about 22,000 fans and all will be required to wear masks. Raymond James Stadium normally has a capacity of 75,000 fans.
Playing before real people rather than just cardboard cutouts - oh, there will be plenty of those, too, with proceeds donated to local charities - has been rare in the NFL all season. But both the Chiefs and Buccaneers were among the few teams to have fans on hand for some games.
Their paths to the championship game have been divergent, though. The Bucs (14-5) finished second in the NFC South to the Saints, sending them on the wild-card route. That meant trips to Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay. And now, staying home.
The Chiefs (16-2) had the top seed and lone bye in the AFC, then outlasted Cleveland with Mahomes sidelined for nearly half the game before routing Buffalo.
Of course, with the week off between the conference title matches and the Super Bowl, each side should be well rested. The only perceivable edge might be the Chiefs needing a plane ride to the game site while the Bucs could drive over to RJS.
By Sunday, they will be as eager as possible to get back on the field and write the final chapter to an unfathomably atypical season.
"You don't get these opportunities every year in the NFL to be in the Super Bowl and to be in these games," Mahomes says, thought it sure seems as if Brady has a Super Bowl habit, and Mahomes is developing one. "So you don't want to look back and have regrets on how you played or how you went about the week before preparing to go out there to play your best football.
"When the end of your career is done, then you can kind of look and see where those moments were in your career where you could've had something or that you executed and you did go out there and achieve your dreams."
AP Pro Football Writers Teresa M. Walker and Dennis Waszak Jr. and Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated February 4, 2021