Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians wants his team to be the last with the football in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Arians said on Monday that “just not getting that ball back in the end” the first time the Bucs played the Chiefs in November still sticks out in his mind.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady nearly rallied the team back in a 27-24 loss in November. The Chiefs ran out the clock in that win after Brady threw his second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter to star wide receiver Mike Evans. The Bucs dropped to 7-5 after that loss but haven’t lost since.
“When you get committed to a cause, and our cause is to put [Super Bowl] rings on our fingers, you do everything you can to reach that goal,” Arians said.
The Bucs signed Brady in free agency last March after a legendary career in New England with six Super Bowl wins. Droves of talent followed through free agency primarily as the Bucs assembled a strong offensive cast around Brady.
Tampa navigated the murky waters of a pandemic-stricken offseason with fewer practice opportunities than normal years. The Bucs adjusted throughout a regular season with many ups and downs to close the regular season on a tear and knock off three division champions on the road in the postseason.
That loss to the Chiefs right before a late bye week sparked the Bucs, Arians indicated.
“Just a little bit of looking inside and knowing this is a really good football team,” Arians said. “We lost some close games to some really good teams, and we have to find a way to win, and it’s going to take everybody.”
“If everybody just digs a little bit deeper, we’ll figure out ways to win games,” he added. “Once we get it going, we’ll be hard to stop.”
Stopping the Chiefs
Arians’ defense has a tall order in a Chiefs team that led the league in total yards with 415.8 per game — ignited by a wealth of stars.
“I’m not really excited playing Tyreek Hill, [Travis] Kelce, and [Patrick] Mahomes. That’s a formidable challenge, but our guys will be up for it,” Arians said.
Tampa didn’t buckle under the pressure of a big start by the Chiefs last time when Mahomes went wild throwing a couple touchdowns to Hill, who had a first quarter-record 210 yards per CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr.
The Bucs defense adjusted and only allowed 10 points the rest of the way. Brady and the offense eventually got going though a couple Brady interceptions hindered a comeback.
“You learn from mistakes, and you learn from some really good things,” Arians said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff to build on.”
Arians added that the familiarity will help, reviewing matchups from that game.
Home or Away Advantage
The Bucs and Chiefs’ preparation for the Super Bowl will bear resemblance to the regular season and postseason games in terms of travel and where the players stay. Arians sees advantages for both teams.
Tampa will become the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium, which means no flight, long hotel stay, and practicing in an unfamiliar facility the week of the game.
“I think the big advantage is that we stay in our own beds and sleep here and just do our normal routines,” Arians said. “Nothing’s out of the ordinary until we hit the media sessions next week.”
He’s not concerned about distractions at home as the players have fared well with that all season.
“I think our guys have done a good job of being accountable to each other with COVID all year, and we’ll continue to do that,” Arians said. “We’ve talked about family and friends testing before they ever enter your home, and make sure you get everybody tested and be very, very smart about it.”
The Chiefs won’t arrive until two days before the game, according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman.
Chiefs won't even arrive in Tampa until two days before the game. During the season, NFL teams weren't allowed to require players to stay in a hotel until the night before games. They ask for any houseguests, even family members, to be tested before they enter players' homes. https://t.co/ghSU2jJRw0
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) January 26, 2021
“It really helps them,” Arians said. “Normally when you get to town, it’s Super Bowl [week] — everybody’s pulling and tugging.”
“You try and get everything done the week before, and then when you hit town, you get all the media obligations, and your practice and your game plans are all put in,” he added. “I think it’s a great advantage for them. It’s just an away game. They get to do their normal prep just like we do. Nobody’s going to get tied up in all that stuff.”