The Murder Mystery of Super Bowl LV
Who murdered what could have been the best Super Bowl ever? We go through the suspects.
What an awful Super Bowl. That was the worst Super Bowl I have seen since the last Super Bowl the Bucs played in when they annihilated the Oakland Raiders because their coach had coached in Oakland the year before and knew all their play calls. This one was extra disappointing through, because it had two of the best QBs to ever suit up. We were all hoping for an All-Time Game. Instead we got a game I walked away from shortly after half-time. Woof. Since our dream has been murdered, let’s look at some of the suspects.
Me: I was wrong about most of this game in my posts about the game. I said it would be a great game for one thing, so I certainly helped build momentum for the cliff the train was about to plunge off. Sure, I got a couple things right. The Bucs defense played exactly how I predicted. They played everyone back and rushed 4 on almost every play. The Chiefs defense played physical on the outside. Tom Brady played meh. The Super Bowl halftime show was meh (ok, that was something Brian predicted).
Overall though, what few things I did get right (things like anthem length, Gronk being good, Steph Curry being incredible) paled in comparison to all I got wrong (everything about the Chiefs being good, the Bucs being bad, and the game being worth your time).
Culpability Index: 1%
The Referees: What a hot F@&#($& mess. Holy shit. Let’s start with the obvious. Why did the NFL pick this game to have the officials (or worse, did they just go rogue?) suddenly start calling every outside holding call on just the Chiefs? The Chiefs have been playing like that all season. If you are in the “If it’s a penalty they should call it” club, why did the Chiefs even get here? Call it that way all year, make the Chiefs adjust, and increase scoring across the league. Don’t pick the most important game of the year to make a brand new point of emphasis, especially not when I want to watch it. Beyond that, several of the calls were ridiculous. There was the holding call on the Matthieu INT that was generic hand-fighting you would see on any play. If you called that, you would have to call it on every play (it turned out they planned to). The drive before halftime was a cacophony of errors as the officials marched the Bucs down the field with one bogus flag after another, the highlight of which was awarding 40 yards to Mike Evans for a Neymar-esque dive from tripping on his own two feet. I am not usually one to blame the referees for everything. Everyone makes bad calls. Games are not usually won or lost on a single bad call. It’s the approach the officials took to this game which is baffling, and took what should have been a close game in the first half and blew it open. When the first thing I associate with a game is the officials, they blew it. That’s what happened here.
Culpability Index: 30 percent
The Bucs Defensive Line: The first candidates for ruining the game that actually were supposed to ruin the game, the Bucs defensive line were the MVP of the Super Bowl. No, I didn’t stick around to see who actually won (one of the referees?), but it doesn’t matter. We all know Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vita Vea and Shaq Barrett were the MVP. The award should have been given to all four of them. They overwhelmed the Chiefs blockers and single-handedly covered for an exposed secondary. From the very beginning of the game, the Bucs employed the same defense the Giants used to stop the overwhelming, unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl 42. They rushed 4 over and over and dropped their DBs into quarters to make sure they couldn’t get beaten down the field. Now, they are not the first team to try this, they are just the first to make it work against the Chiefs. That is because these 4 men got to Mahomes over and over. In the first half, the half that mattered, Mahomes was pressured on over half his drops. Despite the Chiefs blitzing consistently, Brady was only pressured on 10 percent of his drops. Mahomes was often starting his drop backs sprinting one way or another. It’s fun to say you should limit the Chiefs big plays, but it’s impossible to do without a front 4 this good, and very few, if any, teams have one. I could swing this the other way and blame the Chiefs offensive line, but I think this was a case of a dominant group simply playing at the absolute apex of their ability.
Culpability Index: 15 %
The Weekend: After last year’s performance was basically soft-core porn (which actually made sense in Miami, where J-lo's outfit passes for winter wear, I still had to relocate myself and my kids for 20 minutes), The Weekend’s performance seemed like a super upscale lounge act by comparison. He certainly didn’t embarrass himself, and I thought his songs were ok, but that isn’t really what we are looking for from a half-time performance. The biggest problem with the performance, for me, was that it was entirely and completely about him and nothing else. It wasn’t about Tampa Bay (unless they were sea shanties, that wasn't happening). It wasn’t about football. It wasn’t about any specific genre of music. It wasn’t about a collaboration of sounds (there were no guests or covers). These are all typical halftime tropes because they allow people who aren’t familiar with the main artist to have an access point. This show was basically about him, his inside stories and his music. If you are a big fan of the The Weekend, great! I’m sure you enjoyed that. If you are one of the 80 percent of people watching who had no idea who he was, how were you supposed to enjoy that? It was glitzy I guess? Memeworthy? Honestly, this was in the Bruno Mars/Maroon 5/Black Eyed Peas zone on non-memorable current artist Super Bowl performances. Also this…
I have an idea for next year. Comedians. I'd love to see guys like Neal Brennan, Dave Chappelle, Jim Gaffigan etc. Let's try something new.
Culpability Index: 4%
Patrick Mahomes: I know one of the most popular takes coming out of this game is going to be that Mahomes is a Super Bowl choker because he hasn’t been great in the last two Super Bowls. Of course, he played two of the best defenses in the NFL in those Super Bowls, so that didn’t help. The truth is that his supporting cast let him down in this game in a BIG way. Let’s start with his receivers. See this picture?
No, wait, this picture.
That ball hit a receiver in the hands in the end zone. So did several other passes thrown under duress. One hit Tyreek Hill directly in the facemask. So here we have a problem. The vast majority of his throws were done under duress, dropped when they hit the receiver in the hands, or BOTH. And this goes without noting the endless string of dumb penalties his team committed (some of those flags were very warranted). One person can only do so much, and no one on that team helped him whatsoever. If he continues to put up duds in the Super Bowl, I will rethink that position. This game is not going to lead me to question Mahomes’ greatness, however. Still, it’s not like he had an awesome game so…
Culpability Index : 4%
Tom F*(^#@*(^$ Brady
Another year, another Super Bowl win for the Goat. While his team put up 31 points, and I’m sure he won another MVP award, he wasn’t really overwhelming. He got a lot of help from the officials who covered for his mistakes and provided free yardage and points. His throws were up and down, and the running game was ok. The play calling was excellent. He played fine though, and it certainly wasn’t his fault the game sucked. None of this matters to him though. The dude just keeps winning. If I have one gripe (and I have hundreds), it’s that this dude just doesn’t seem like he deserves to be the sports GOAT. LOOK AT THIS.
Also, the 2000 combine? I had just finished almost shooting myself in the face with a Roman Candle to celebrate the avoidance of the Y2K bug when this flabby doughboy was at the combine? Holy crap I’m old.
Culpability Index 1% (he’s just sooooo annoying)
The commercials: This year wasn’t anything special as far as Super Bowl Commercials went. There was an OK one with Will Ferrell, the above one that included Rodgers and Mahomes, a terrible Bud Light self-reference high 5, Shaggy with Cheetos, and the 5 second Reddit one that hints at the truth. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. A 30 second commercial is too long now, let alone a boring game filled with flags, punts and Romoisms (speaking of Romo, its seems the playoff monkey on his back wasn't the only thing he didn't shake).
Culpability Index: 5 (seconds)%
Andy Reid’s cajones:
Fresh off a playoff run that included a famous moment where Reid chose to go for it on fourth down with his back up quarterback to seal a game, the Chiefs looked to have an aggressive and tactically smart coach on their sideline. This week, the wheels came completely off the tracks. It started earlier this week when his son/staff member was involved in what is quickly looking like a DUI that may have permanently altered the life of a child in the car he hit. While I don’t blame Andy Reid for this (parenting is hard), I do blame him for continuing to employ a staff member who has a long history of driving while intoxicated. If this person wasn’t his son, would they still have a job? As for the actual game, Reid’s confidence evaporated on the opening kickoff. Again and again he sent the special teams out, taking the ball out of the hands of the only hope he had to win. Even when the defense was clearly compromised by the sudden new rules for coverage, he still refused to push for touchdowns. Bruce Arians was more aggressive with a lead than Reid was while trailing. He kept trying to punt with a punter who was almost instantly overwhelmed by the spotlight, and his continued reliance on him lead to failure after failure. While his kicker made those kicks, it was little reward for a team that was giving up touchdowns when the other side had the ball. The crushing blow was the choice to settle for a long field goal after halftime down 3 scores on a short fourth down. When the kicker walked out, this game was over. It was a stunning act of cowardice, but nothing to that point made you think Andy was going to find his, uh, courage in that moment. He never did. That team needed some real momentum coming out of halftime, and Reid destroyed their last chance to make it a game. It was a total abandonment of his responsibility as coach to try to win. It was the worst coaching performance in the Super Bowl I have seen in some time, and we didn't even get into the team's total inability to make adjustments. Woof.
Culpability Index: 40%
Let's add up all the clues and make a call here. Who was responsible for murdering my Super Bowl experience? I am very tempted to go for a Hot Fuzz-style multi-perpatrator crime, but there is one name that sticks out above the crowd.
Andy Reid… You have the right to remain cowardly… your courage had the right to exist… anything you said lead to a field goal or a punt… If you cannot afford a pair, a pair will be provided to you by Bruce arians…