Five plays that decided Super Bowl LV


Now, in the Super Bowl, five plays showed how all the work paid off:

Brady to Brown, stop route, KC up 3-0, 3:14 left, first quarter. Classic Brady favorite. He torched the Atlanta secondary four years ago in the comeback Super Bowl win with stop routes. Receiver runs what looks like a go route, puts his foot in the ground, turns back and catches the ball two or three yards shy of where he stopped. Brown sprinted 19 yard down the ride sideline, Charvarius Ward in tight coverage, Brown stopped, ball already in the air . . . Brown caught it 16 yards past the line of scrimmage. Looked so easy. And it is—if you’ve practiced it a hundred times. Which very likely they had done.

Brady to Gronkowski, flat-screen route, KC up 3-0, 0:41 left, first quarter. “Byron couldn’t wait to call this play,” Christensen said. “We were so sure it’d work.” This is something I’d never seen—Gronk the tight end in fast motion, right to left, in front of the quarterback, in motion as a receiver and not as a seal-blocker cutting off the edge-rush. You can see on replay defensive end Frank Clark anticipating Gronkowski cutting off his motion just after the snap to seal him off from rushing Brady; Clark girds for contact from Gronkowski, and the contact never comes. Gronkowski, swift from a soft practice year coming out of retirement, turns to Brady for the soft toss, and he turns upfield for the easy 8-yard touchdown. How many touchdowns in his tremendous career has Gronk done this—sprint motion, catch in the flat, score, without being touched? Well, never. When Gronkowski got to the bench after the play, he was excited, like a kid. “That’s so cool!” he said. “I always wanted to run that route! No one’s ever called that play for me before!”

Brady to Gronkowski, improvised route, Tampa up 7-3, 6:11 left, second quarter. At the KC 17-yard line, Gronkowski was supposed to run a corner route—to the back right corner of the end zone. But he was closely guarded by cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who had outside leverage. (Meaning it’d be fruitless to run to the right corner, because Sneed would be all over Gronkowski.) “Now it’s just playing ball,” Christensen said. “Tom and Gronk have had to do this a lot in their career. The defense had the perfect design. They get paid too.” Gronkowski knew to turn left, across the back of the end zone, and Brady knew that’s what Gronkowski would do. As soon as Gronk began trolling the back of the end zone, Brady released a line-drive spiral exactly 32 yards in the air. It was on Gronk before KC could help Sneed. Touchdown.

Brady to Brown, improvised route, Tampa up 14-3, 0:10 left, second quarter. The idea was for Brady, under center at the 1-yard line, to play-action to Fournette, and turn around and fire to Brown, single-covered by Tyrann Mathieu, alone two-yards deep in the end zone. Brown was supposed to run a different route to get to the spot, but you can see on replay why he did what he did. Mathieu had no help behind him and Brown figured with a hard jab step to the right coming off the line, Mathieu would have to respect an outside throw. For a split-second, Mathieu jabbed with Brown—just long enough for Brown to be able to box out Mathieu. Brady fired it low, and Mathieu didn’t have time to deflect it away. “There’s something to getting an A in recess,” Christensen said. “Tom and Antonio are on the playground there, and the play doesn’t happen the way you’ve designed it. But they’ll figure it out, because they’re parks-and-rec players.”

Fournette run, Tampa up 21-9, 7:45 left, third quarter. When I asked Leftwich for his favorite play of the game, he picked this one. “That Leonard Fournette run in the third quarter was something that was really set up throughout the game,” he told me. “What they were doing defensively . . . the great thing for us, we had a lot of things that we talked about throughout the week that showed up in the game. It was just amazing, all the conversations we had for two weeks, and how the game turned out on Sunday evening.” Leftwich wouldn’t say what exactly he saw, but it’s likely that on Fournette runs to the right of center earlier in the game against certain Kansas City defensive looks, the Bucs would have a totally open second level. So if they blocked it right and opened a gap, Fournette would have an open field ahead. That’s exactly what happened, and that was the game.

I would not call these five plays the most important of the game. The defensive vise-grip on Patrick Mahomes was gigantic; holding KC to three field goals is a career achievement for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and his troops. But for a new quarterback to learn a new team after 20 years in one place, and for four brand-new players to score every point in a Super Bowl upset when nothing was normal . . . that, to me, is truly extraordinary about the 2020 season and the Bucs winning Super Bowl LV. In a rout.

The defense was picture perfect all day too. Devin White said after the game he felt he was the best linebacker in football, and who’s disagreeing with him now? After missing the wild-card game in Washington, White led the Tampa defense in tackles against the Saints, Packers and Chiefs and had a ridiculous three-game stat line: 38 tackles, 3 for losses, two interceptions, two passes defensed, two fumbles recovered. At 22, the second-year player from LSU is turning out to be one of the great defensive players in football. Altogether, the Bucs’ youth all over the field will make them big factors so long as they have a quarterback to keep the offense humming. After seeing Brady in this Super Bowl, you’ve got to figure he’s got two years left in Tampa. Maybe more.


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

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

13. Dak Prescott (DAL)

12. Kirk Cousins (MIN)

11. Daniel Jones (NYG)

10. Matthew Stafford (LAR)

9. Deshaun Watson (CLE)

8. Aaron Rodgers (NYJ)

7. Jalen Hurts (PHI)

6. Trevor Lawrence (JAX)

5. Lamar Jackson (BAL)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!