Tom Brady-Buccaneers marriage was a match made in Super Bowl heaven

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TAMPA, Fla. — “Hey dude,” Bruce Arians said to Tom Brady as confetti fell on their world champion heads Sunday night. “You remember our first conversation?”

“Vividly,” Brady said.

“Me too,” Arians said. “ ‘You come, and we’ll win the Super Bowl.’ “

He came, he saw, he conquered . . . even though so many were convinced Brady was kaput after the embarrassing wild-card loss that ended his New England career 13 months ago; even though the meticulously-organized Brady didn’t have his first competitive practice with his new team till Aug. 14; even though the three men who scored the four Tampa Bay touchdowns in Super Bowl LV weren’t on the team 10 months ago; even though the Bucs lost at home to the Saints, Rams and Chiefs by a total of 41 points in November; and even though the Bucs’ road to winning a Lombardi Trophy would necessitate victories over Drew BreesAaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes in the span of 22 days.

But by the time Brady’s seventh Super Bowl title was captured Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium, it didn’t seem anything but logical.

That’s because Brady had so much help from his new pewter friends in routing the defending world champs 31-9. Gronkowski, coaxed out of retirement by Brady last April (“What else was I gonna do in a pandemic?” Gronk told me post-game) scored the first two touchdowns on throws from Brady. Antonio Brown, coaxed onto the team, in part, by Brady in October, ran a great route and caught a laser TD from Brady for the third score. And Leonard Fournette, mopey when Ronald Jones grabbed the running back job in midseason, scored a redemptive TD among his 135 scrimmage yards. “Rob and Antonio are never on this team without Tom,” agent Drew Rosenhaus said at halftime, and he would know: He reps Gronk and used to rep Brown.

The help came from a defense that smothered Patrick Mahomes, who has the best chance in this golden age of quarterbacks to be the heir to Brady. (Someday. Not now.) Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles came up with the game plan of his life. The line contained Mahomes so well Bowles called only four blitzes all night. And the kid secondary—all six who played the back end against Mahomes are 24 or younger—came up huge. One other thing: The Chiefs stunk. Hard to remember an Andy Reid team looking so shaky and poiseless in a big game.

Back to the field, post-game. Back to the strangest season we’ve ever seen.

“What else did you say to Brady?” I asked Arians, when he finally had a chance to take a deep breath in his office post-game.

“That [first] day we talked,” Arians said, “Tom said he knew we had the talent. I just told him, ‘You gotta get them to believe.’ He did. And it came to fruition.”

Arians would have loved to dissect the moment with Brady right there. But when ownership, Arians and Brady moved to the stage to accept the Lombardi, the coach stepped back.

“I wanted my wife to have some time with him,” Arians said. “She’d never met Tom.”

Whaaaaat?

“Just that kind of year,” Arians said. “You know, the virus. It’s been tough to build a close team in times like this. They couldn’t eat together. Gronk still doesn’t know everybody’s name. So when we got on stage, I just let my wife have the moment with Tom. That was precious to me.”

Arians mused: “My wife not meeting Tom till we’re on stage after winning the Super Bowl. That speaks volumes of this whole year.”

There has never been a year like this one, and never a Super Bowl like this one, and not just because of one of the great quarterback pairings of the 55 Super Bowls ever played. Actually, everything surrounding the game was America in this crazy time—good and bad.

The NFL hosted 7,500 vaccinated U.S. health-care workers at the game, to say thanks for their tireless work during the 11 months of the pandemic. I guess it wasn’t too shocking that there was a protest outside a perimeter fence at Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon against, of all things, actually being vaccinated. “VACCINES CAUSE INJURY AND DEATH,” one protester’s sign read. Seriously. But the health-care workers seemed to have a glorious time, enjoying a Miley Cyrus pre-game concert and the game—which pleased the majority of the health-care workers, because the majority was from Florida, like the winners.

The football gods gave the NFL a few more gifts Sunday. The Brady-Mahomes matchup, of course. Brady tying the great Otto Graham for most football championships won by a quarterback (seven). The 269th game of the season, exactly on schedule while COVID-19 still ravages parts of the country.  The NFL was smart to invite so many American heroes, for free, to a game most of them would never have the chance to see. And the pre-game “Chorus of the Captains” poem by 22-year-old Inauguration poet Amanda Gorman was a different, and nice, touch in hard times, honoring a teacher, a nurse and a veteran who have acted selflessly in the pandemic. Gorman’s words included these:

For while we honor them today,
It is they who every day honor us.

Poetry at a football game. The teams stopped, the world stopped, to listen. “What a time to be alive,” young Amanda Gorman tweeted.

What a season to see, too. The Bucs, as it turned out, rode the wings of Brady to an unexpected world championship, running up an 8-0 record since Dec. 1. Those who’ve been around Brady wouldn’t be shocked. By the time the calendar turns to December, his voracious practice habits rub off on his mates, and things that were rough and ugly in Week 3 look pretty impressive by the playoffs. For example: touchdown passes in the final 10 seconds of the first half in both the NFC title game and the Super Bowl, with each being an unexpected dagger in the game.

Brady created a culture of selflessness on both sides of the ball. When star linebacker Devin White complained about not making the Pro Bowl in December, Brady pshawed. “D,” he said. “Come on. There’s a bigger bowl I‘m chasing.” Arians had it lucky. Most teams talk about stars lowering their egos for the common good, but listen to Arians: “Mike Evans is the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever met. He’s told us to use some of his money if we need to contracts to keep the team together! And Gronk—never once all season did he ever say a word about getting the ball more, even though he might get one pass, two passes in games. He just blocks his ass off, and when I’d say to him, ‘You okay?’ he’d say, ‘I’m good, coach. I’m good.’ “

Gronkowski has been eclipsed by KC’s great tight end, Travis Kelce. But on this night, till the game was out of hand, the night belonged to Gronk (two TDs) over Kelce (a big drop, zero TDs). “Playing with Tom,” Gronkowski told me after the game, “you just learn if you want to win championships, you can’t care about your numbers. If you’re good, numbers will come. If you’ve got great players, maybe they’ll get the numbers. Who cares? I’ve had no problems all year how I’ve been used. I love blocking. Blocking’s just as important as catching the ball at my position.”

Brady was obviously the conduit to Gronkowski. “Once Brady signed,” Rosenhaus said, “that was the impetus for everything to happen. I called coach [Bill] Belichick in New England and said it might make sense for Rob to reunite with Tom. They worked out a trade. Rob’s body felt good. Being in Florida was good. He’s the only quarterback Rob ever wanted to play with.”

You could see Sunday night that Gronkowski has the fresh legs he used to have in September in New England. He was quick sprinting across the formation on his first TD catch, and so fast when he caught the ball that no Chief touched him on his eight-yard run to the end zone. On the second, he broke free from coverage by precocious rookie L’Jarius Sneed and then jutted left quickly in the back of the end zone. Easy touchdown.

“People seem mind-blown about Tom at his age,” Gronkowski said. “I’m not. He has lost no zip on his passes from when I first came in the league. People think he eats crazy and they question his methods. Well, I’m doing some of his stuff and all I know is I feel great.”

Brady found Brown with a dart to make it 21-6 by halftime, and by the time Fournette ended it with a 27-yard TD run to the right pylon midway through the third quarter, the Brady indoctrination season was complete. Think of the timeline: When Brady agreed with the Bucs on March 18, he told GM Jason Licht (mind you, this was very early in the pandemic, so no one knew how restrictive life was going to be), We’ve only got so many hours before opening day, and every hour counts for us. Brady actually had figured out the number of hours—maybe 4,300, or close to that—which amazed Licht. But then he pushed to trade for Gronkowski (April 21), supported the signing of Fournette when the Jags cut him (Sept. 6) and was wholly behind the Antonio Brown reclamation project (signed Oct. 27).

Four touchdowns scored in Super Bowl LV: Gronk, Gronk, Brown, Fournette.

Wayward Souls of the NFL, Tampa Bay chapter.

Maybe Brady knew what he was doing in petitioning for his freedom from New England.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

How to watch Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

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It’s the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, October 2 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida–a rematch of Super Bowl LV where Tom Brady earned his seventh ring. Sunday’s matchup marks the sixth meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Brady with the 45-year-old veteran holding a 3-2 edge in the series.

Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch the game.

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

Be sure to start your NFL Sunday with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) picked up their first loss of the season last Sunday after falling 20-17 to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City struggled offensively in Week 3 as the team was held to just three points in the second half. The Chiefs are still working to fill the void in the passing game since trading star WR Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in the offseason but according to Mahomes, that doesn’t excuse Sunday’s loss.

RELATED: Patrick Mahomes –  I don’t expect growing pains, offense has to gel together

“I don’t expect any growing pains,” Mahomes told reporters at ESPN.com. “Obviously have new players and you don’t know everybody’s going to respond to tough situations. . . . We’ve got to gel all together. It starts with me. There were certain throws I was putting on guys’ back hips instead of in front of him. There were certain situations where we were just barely off of it.”

Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million contract extension, in July 2020–the richest contract in American sports history by total value–is in his fifth season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and hopes to lead Kansas City to its seventh straight AFC West title. The Chiefs are the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady and the Buccaneers (2-1) are also coming off their first loss of the season–a 14-12 defeat at home from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers last Sunday afternoon. With WRs Mike Evans (suspension) and Chris Godwin (hamstring)–Brady’s top two targets–and Julio Jones (knee) out in Week 3, Tampa Bay’s offense racked up a total of just 285 yards in the loss. Additionally, the team is still adapting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason. Despite some challenges on offense, Tampa Bay’s defense has remained consistent and currently leads the NFL in scoring defense (9.0 pts/gm) and also ranks in the top 5 in total defense.

RELATED: Todd Bowles asks NFL to explain clock issues on delay of game, says Bucs have to get the snap off


How to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
  • When: Sunday, October 2
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night features a match-up between Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers–a rematch of Super Bowl LV. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s game as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season. See below for the complete 2022 Sunday Night Football schedule and find out how to live stream every game on Peacock.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – Broncos do just enough to pull off 11-10 win over 49ers

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Chiefs at Buccaneers

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Bengals at Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Cowboys at Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Steelers at Dolphins

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Packers at Bills

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Titans at Chiefs

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – Chargers at 49ers

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Bengals at Steelers

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Patriots at Vikings

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers at Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Colts at Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Chiefs at Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Patriots at Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD

RELATED: How to watch/live stream Chiefs vs Buccaneers game


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

RELATED: PFT’s Week 3 2022 NFL power rankings

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!