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Tom Brady wins Super Bowl No. 7 as Buccaneers defeat Chiefs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9 to win the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady made his seventh Super Bowl title look familiar – despite moving south to a new team and conference during a pandemic.

Brady threw two touchdown passes to old friend Rob Gronkowski and one to good pal Antonio Brown, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers routed Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City 31-9 on their home field in Super Bowl 55 on Sunday.

Brady earned his fifth Super Bowl MVP award and extended his Super Bowl titles’ record in his 10th appearance, nine with New England. The 43-year-old Brady broke his own mark for oldest player to win a Super Bowl and joined Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to win one with multiple franchises.

“I’m not making any comparisons,” Brady said. “Experiencing it with this group of guys is amazing.”

Stunningly, it was easier than any of his previous Super Bowl victories, which came by an average margin of five points. Mahomes lost by double digits for the first time in his four-year career.

The Buccaneers (15-5) took their second NFL title and first in 18 years as the first team to play the big game at home, capping an unusual and challenging season played through the novel coronavirus. They won three road games as a wild card to reach the Super Bowl, and joined the NHL’s Lightning as a 2020 season champion. The Rays also went to the World Series but lost to the Dodgers.

“I’m so proud of all these guys,” Brady said. “We had a rough November but we came together at the right time. We knew this was gonna happen. We played our best game of the year.”

Mahomes and the Chiefs (16-3) failed to become the first repeat champions since Brady’s Patriots in 2003-04.

“I didn’t see it coming at all,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I thought we were going to come in and play these guys just like we’ve been playing teams, and it didn’t happen that way. I give them credit on that.”

The NFL completed its 269-game season on time without any cancellations, a remarkable accomplishment that required nearly 1 million COVID-19 tests for players and team personnel.

Due to the virus, only 25,000 mask-wearing fans attended, including approximately 7,500 vaccinated health care workers given free tickets by the NFL. About 30,000 cardboard cutouts made the stadium look full.

A streaker wearing a hot-pink onesie eluded security and slid into the end zone with 5:03 left in the game. Kansas City’s high-powered offense never got that far against Tampa’s ferocious defense.

“Obviously I didn’t play the way I wanted to play,” Mahomes said. “What else can you say? All you can do is leave everything you have on the field. I feel like the guys did that. … They beat us pretty good, the worst I’ve been beaten in a long time.”

Bruce Arians became the oldest coach at age 68 to win the Super Bowl. His mom, 95-year-old Kay Arians, witnessed it in person. Brady, Gronk and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles helped Arians get that Vince Lombardi Trophy.

“This really belongs to the coaching staff and our players. I didn’t do a damn thing,” Arians said after he was handed the trophy.

Bowles devised a masterful plan to frustrate Mahomes and shut down the Chiefs, the complete opposite of Kansas City’s 27-24 win in Tampa in Week 12, when the Chiefs jumped to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Tyreek Hill had 269 yards receiving and three TDs in that one. He was held to 73 yards on seven catches Sunday.

After the Chiefs took a 3-0 early lead, it was all Brady and the Bucs.

Brady accomplished a career-first with an 8-yard TD pass to Gronkowksi for a 7-3 lead with 37 seconds left in the first quarter. Brady’s nine Super Bowl teams in New England produced just three points total in the first quarter. Gronkowski, who came out of retirement to play with his buddy, caught his 13th and 14th postseason TDs from Brady. They had been tied at 12 with Jerry Rice and Joe Montana.

Despite playing at home, the Buccaneers weren’t allowed to fire the cannons from their famed pirate ship after touchdowns and big plays. They did it soon after the clock expired as red, white and black confetti fell onto the field.

Fans still enjoyed the thud of Gronk’s thunderous spike after his first score.

Tampa missed an opportunity to extend the lead when Brady’s 2-yard pass to offensive lineman Joe Haeg was knocked out of his hands in the end zone. Ronald Jones was stopped short on consecutive carries as Arians stuck to his “No risk it, no biscuit” philosophy and went on fourth down.

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