The stupor bowl

Jonathan Riker, Contributing Writer

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

31-9. 31-9. The number one offense in the NFL mustered nine points in a crushing defeat on Sunday night that can easily be counted among the most depressing blowouts in the history of organized sports. Patrick Mahomes, perhaps the most talented quarterback who has ever lived, scored 0 (zero!) touchdowns and threw for a measly 26/49 (53 percent), amounting to a total of 270 yards for the man throwing on average 316 yards per game at 66.3 percent. So how exactly did the guy who amalgamates the improvisational skill of Brett Favre, the arm of Aaron Rodgers, the decision making of Tom Brady and the running ability of John Elway, manage to fall short on the biggest stage he’s ever played on so far?

The answer is cheese. Not the kind of cheese Rodgers has been throwing to for the past eight years in Green Bay, oh no no, but a hole-y swiss cheese, aka whatever Kansas City’s offensive line coach Andy Heck decided to play Sunday night. In fact, putting literal cheese on the line of scrimmage would have better protected Mahomes from Tampa’s defensive tackles if only for the slipping hazard compelling Shaquille Barrett, Devin White and Ndamukong Suh to go around it. To put it simply, the offensive line looked absolutely atrocious, especially considering that Mahomes suffered a recent concussion and will be going under the knife in a week to operate on his toe injury from the AFC divisional round. Protect your damn quarterback so the next time you try to roll all 500 million dollars of him out onto the field he doesn’t look like an unmasked Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Some of this is out of Kansas City’s control. Their two best pro-bowl caliber offensive linemen, Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, were injured; but a team of Kansas City’s caliber has to account for that and not allow for the absolute travesty that was Sunday night’s game. Kansas City’s offense is almost entirely predicated on the greatness of Mahomes, and part of the greatness of Mahomes is his extraordinary skill set with the deep ball. If the quarterback only has a second to two seconds to throw the ball, there’s no time for his best offensive weapons in Tyreek Hill (WR) and Travis Kelce (TE) to 1.) get far enough away for a large, game changing gain or 2.) even get open from the double- or triple-coverage they faced in the first place. Patrick Mahomes didn’t almost run 500 yards (on turf toe!) because he felt like it, he ran 500 yards because he was scared for his damn life. By circumstance and criminal negligence, what makes the Chiefs the Chiefs (besides racial insensitivity in their team name) was completely decimated. It’s a miracle they managed to score a single field goal. If they had scored in double digits, it would have been a divine act of God herself. Mahomes did his absolute best with what pitiful help he had been given.

Not enough has been said about the elite defensive play from Todd Bowles and the Bucs defense. It was simply extraordinary. One of the best defensive performances by a team in the Super Bowl ever. Every player played to their absolute ceiling, which is the only reason a defensive player didn’t win MVP. Every weakness Kansas City had, the Bucs defense found and turned to their advantage. It was smart, aggressive and dominant football out of Todd Bowles’ squad.

People will be arguing the entire off-season that the egregious foul calls in the first half contributed to Kansas City’s loss (refs, please stop calling stupid holding calls on players not involved in the play during big games on game-changing plays), but ultimately, the responsibility lies on the Chiefs’ Defensive Coordinator to get his guys to stop committing fouls the refs have been calling all night, one sided or otherwise. Kansas City’s weaknesses were on full display from the start, and it is completely unknowable what would’ve happened if that second-quarter interception hadn’t been interrupted by a deeply annoying holding call. What we can say is that by that point in the game, Kansas City had looked bad. Whether that would’ve turned around on the turnover is irrelevant. What happened happened. Elite teams get over it and rally.

Tom Brady, whatever. Fine. I get it. You win. Bleating bearded animal. He played great. Friendly reminder from a salty Giants fan that Eli “Beach-Body” Manning still lives rent-free in his head. But make no mistake — the Bucs defense won this game by exploiting weaknesses, and the Chiefs’ abysmal O-line and lack of significant adjustments lost it. God help you, next-season Mahomes; you’ll certainly need it. Come back next year and become the GOAT-slayer you were born to be, or else we’ll all be forced to wait upon stupid dummy-dumb-dumb Thomas Edward Patrick Brady for the rest of eternity.

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