TAMPA, Fla. - In a truly historic event, Tom Brady secured a record seventh Super Bowl title while Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs struggled throughout the match-up.
Brady threw three touchdowns, including a pair to old longtime New England teammate Rob Gronkowski in their first season together with the Buccaneers.
By the end of the fourth, Mahomes’ Chiefs went home without a single touchdown.
In a year defined by working from home, the Buccaneers made history by becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Tom Brady celebrates after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Some 25,000 fans were in attendance at Sunday’s game alongside 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers and a sea of cardboard cutouts to fill the empty seats.
The NFL provided masks to all fans and followed many of the guidelines used during the regular season in stadiums that allowed fans. Purchases were cashless, and the first rows of fans were not close to the field. The rows closest to the field in Tampa Bay's home stadium were covered.
In a break from tradition, no special guests joined headliner The Weeknd on stage for the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The singer had a crowd of dancers alongside him though, who sported robotic-looking masks as the show began before taking to the field in the full-faced bandage look The Weeknd has also been seen with.
TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: The Weeknd performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Another person that ended up on the field was an unknown man who went running towards midfield in the second half. He took off his shirt, waved it above his head and kept running. He was eventually tackled and escorted off the field, as the crowd cheered him on.
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Pregame festivities started with a video recording of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" as players from Tampa Bay and Kansas City lined up on each goal line. The NFL opened the season with the same show of racial solidarity and did it again before the final game. Both teams went to their locker rooms after the rendition by Alicia Keys.
Poet Amanda Gorman, who captivated Americans with the recent recitation of her poem on national unity at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, honored teachers, military veterans and frontline healthcare workers in a new original poem.
Artist H.E.R. performed America the Beautiful, followed by Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church singing the national anthem, the first Super Bowl duet in over a decade.
Super Bowl 55 pitted two of the oldest head coaches in the NFL in an age when young offensive-minded coaches are all the rage. Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid is 62. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians is 68, making him the oldest to win a Super Bowl.
Led by six-time champion Tom Brady, the Bucs revamped their roster to his liking after he came aboard, departing the New England Patriots after 19 seasons.
Gronkowski, Brady’s longtime teammate in New England, was retired pursuing other interests, like professional wrestling and FOX’s "The Masked Singer."
But when he had the chance to play with Brady again, he answered the call.
Antonio Brown had been out of football since being cut by the Patriots in 2019. Arians said last year he had no interest in a reunion with Brown, whom he coached when they were with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But when Brady asked for Brown, he got him.
Tampa went 11-5 in the regular season, losing the NFC South to the 12-4 New Orleans Saints. Even so, the Bucs would have the last laugh.
After beating Washington in the Wildcard Round, the Bucs bested the Saints 30-20 and advanced to the NFC Championship game.
There, they beat the Green Bay Packers 31-26 and advanced to the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady (12) of the Buccaneers shakes hands with Patrick Mahomes (15) of the Chiefs after the regular-season game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 29, 2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by
The Chiefs steamrolled the league this year. Aside from an early loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and a Week 17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs won every game.
That includes a 27-24 win over the Bucs in Week 12.
Patrick Mahomes, seemed to toy with opposing defenses en route to 4,740 yards, 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions, thrusting himself into another MVP award discussion.
His play kept the Chiefs firmly planted atop most power rankings this season. Even when the Steelers touted a perfect 11-0 record, conventional wisdom had the Chiefs as the class of the AFC.
Kansas City earned the AFC’s lone first-round bye and met the Cleveland Browns in the Divisional Round. They survived a scare from the Browns, advancing to the conference title game with the Buffalo Bills.
At 13-3, the Bills made a statement in 2020, proving they were no longer a lowly afterthought in the AFC East. Even so, they were little match for the Chiefs, who advanced to their second straight Super Bowl with a 38-24 win.
Would Kansas City have defeated Tampa, the Chiefs would have been the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Patriots did in 2003 and 2004.
A win would have also put Mahomes on a more exclusive list of quarterbacks who are two-time champions, joining the likes of Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Bart Starr and John Elway.
But he’d still have quite a journey if he hopes to reach Brady’s now-seven.
This story was reported from Atlanta and Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed to this story.