Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were not the only former Patriots to play a role in the Buccaneers’ 31-9 Super Bowl 2021 victory on Sunday night. Antonio Brown, who briefly played for New England, also contributed.
Brown had five catches for 22 yards and a key touchdown just before halftime for Tampa Bay in its win over the Chiefs. It was another chapter in a wild NFL career for Brown, who signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers in October after more than a year out of football.
“Being out for a year without football made me appreciate it more,” Brown said. “I’m just grateful to be at this point right here and to finally be a champion.”
Brown was cut by the Raiders and Patriots in 2019 for a variety of reasons and has had several run-ins with the law. But Brady seems to have a soft spot for Brown and lobbied for the Buccaneers to sign him.
“AB is just … since he got here, he’s done everything the right way,” Brady said. “So impressed by him. Proud of him.”
Brady found Brown for a 1-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left in the second quarter that gave Tampa Bay a 21-6 lead.
“I’ve been through a lot,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t change it for anything. Adversity, perseverance, fighting through, believing to get to this point and being able to finish I’m just super grateful. … I couldn’t write a better story.”
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was passed over for a head coaching job again this year, but it looks like he’ll be back in Kansas City again next season.
ESPN and NFL Network both reported Bieniemy’s contract expires after the Super Bowl, but he is expected to re-sign with the team. The Chiefs and Bieniemy had thought there was no need to address his expiring contract because the expectation was he would land a head coaching job, but he was not hired by any of the seven teams that hired new head coaches.
Former Jets running back Le’Veon Bell did not play. He was one of two Chiefs that did not get one snap. The other was backup quarterback Chad Henne. Bell signed with the Chiefs after the Jets released him in October. He will be a free agent in March.
While Bell did not play, another former Jet had a role for the Buccaneers. Defensive lineman Steve McLendon was part of Tampa Bay’s rotation on the line and he wound up with one tackle and a quarterback hit in the game. The Jets traded McLendon to the Buccaneers in October.
In his 10th Super Bowl, Brady scored a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time when he hit Gronk in the end zone. Brady became the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to complete 80 percent of his passes and three touchdowns in the first half.
Brady, with his seventh Super Bowl victory, now has more than any franchise in NFL history. The Patriots and Steelers have six Super Bowl titles.
Bucs RB Leonard Fournette joined Terrell Davis (1997 season) and Larry Fitzgerald (2008) as the only players to score in four playoff games in a single postseason. Fournette broke free for a 27-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
The Chiefs lost a replay challenge early in the second quarter, when they disputed the spot on a fourth-down run for no gain on the Tampa 1-yard line.
The Chiefs won the coin toss and deferred, opting to kick off and get the ball to start the second half. It was the 11th consecutive Super Bowl in which the winner of the coin toss opted to defer.
The NFL invited some special guests to attend the game. DC Metro Police Officers Mike Fanone, Daniel Hodges and Lila Morris were guests of the league, in recognition of their heroic actions during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Family members of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed during the attack, were also in attendance as invited guests of the league.