clearn.png
Sunday September 19th, 2021 12:30AM

Brady, improved defense keys to Bucs winning Super Bowl

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t be denied.

The 43-year-old six-time Super Bowl champion may no longer be the best quarterback in the NFL, however, he’s shown in his first season with the Bucs that he’s still good enough to lead a team to the NFL title game.

And the way Tampa Bay’s defense has played since Patrick Mahomes manhandled it in Week 12 of the regular season gives the NFC champions confidence that Sunday’s rematch with the defending Super Bowl winners will be different.

Brady and the Bucs haven’t lost since falling to the Chiefs 27-24 on Nov. 29, rattling off seven consecutive wins on the way to the franchise’s first appearance on football's biggest stage in 18 years.

This is exactly what general manager Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians had in mind when — coming off a 7-9 finish and hoping to end a 12-season hiatus from the playoffs — they signed the former New England Patriots star to a two-year, $50 million contract in free agency.

“Naturally, I think you envision it every year in the offseason. You want to make some moves that hopefully get your team into the Super Bowl. I think when you sign a guy like Tom, it makes it a little more realistic,” Licht said.

“Just talking to him the days after we signed him, you could just hear and feel the confidence that he had,” the GM added. “It made it a little bit more real.”

Arians has also worked with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer during a long coaching career in which he’s developed a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. He said what sets the great QBs apart from others is a unique passion to win.

“They have the ability to will themselves on other people to make sure that everybody has bought in to the cause. The cause is a ring, putting a championship in your trophy case,” Arians said. “Tom brings that attitude every single day and it permeates through the entire locker room.”

And has since Day 1.

“This man has been to a lot of these before, so most definitely coming in we knew we had a shot at all these goals. We were taking it week by week, but we definitely knew with a leader like that, and the guys that we had in place already, that the sky was the limit,” third-year running back Ronald Jones said.

“And, here we are,” Jones added. “They definitely spoke it into existence and we did the things we had to do to make it happen.”

Brady inherited a talented array of playmakers, including receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller, and tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.

But Licht didn’t stand pat in his determination to transform the offense into a high-scoring outfit capable of putting up enough points to keep pace with Kansas City’s high-octane attack led by Mahomes, All-Pros Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

The GM traded for Rob Gronkowski after Brady lured his former Patriots teammate out of retirement, then solidified the offensive line that protects Brady by drafting tackle Tristan Wirfs. Running backs LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette, and eventually receiver Antonio Brown, were added to the mix, too.

That’s a lot of firepower.

But ultimately, what will make the difference Sunday is the team's commitment to keeping an improved defense together.

Licht placed the franchise tag on 2019 NFL sacks leader Shaquil Barrett and re-signed linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh before bolstering an already young secondary by drafting safety Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Mahomes lit up the Bucs with 462 yards passing, including 13 completions to Hill for 269 yards and three touchdowns, during the Chiefs' win in Week 12. But Tampa Bay’s defense has made strides over the past two months, building confidence and playing its best during a playoff run that includes wins over Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

Taking down Mahomes won't be easy, but it's not impossible.

“We don’t have to be the best every day,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “We have to be the best on Sunday.”

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Out of this world: Shepard puts golf on moon 50 years ago
Fifty years later, Alan Shepard holds his place in golf history as the only person to hit a shot on the moon
1:10PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Brady, improved defense keys to Bucs winning Super Bowl
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t be denied
1:06PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Mets beat Davis, Orioles top Santander in arbitration
The Mets defeated J
1:06PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Mets beat Davis in 1st arbitration decision this year
The Mets defeated J
12:43PM ( 34 minutes ago )
"Midnight Train to Georgia' songwriter Jim Weatherly dies
Hall of Fame songwriter Jim Weatherly, who wrote hit songs like “Midnight Train to Georgia," has died
12:43PM ( 34 minutes ago )
The Latest: Yankee Stadium draws lines as vaccination site
Yankee Stadium is open as a COVID-19 vaccination site and drawing lines of people from surrounding neighborhoods in the Bronx
12:41PM ( 36 minutes ago )
AP Sports
Super Bowl ads aim to comfort and connect
Super Bowl ads each year offer a snapshot of the American psyche _ and this year it’s a doozy
6:00AM ( 7 hours ago )
NFL players continue fighting for social justice, diversity
NFL players and their union want the league to continue fighting for social justice and they’re still seeking an increase in the number of minority coaches
8:25PM ( 16 hours ago )
Young Bucs secondary braces for another dose of Tyreek Hill
Like most NFL cornerbacks, Carlton Davis plays with a short-term memory but never forgets a bad performance
6:41PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Online Football
The Latest: Goodell: NFL not satisfied in minority hiring
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league is not satisfied with only two minorities hired for seven head coach openings
2:28PM ( 22 hours ago )
The Latest: Goodell: Washington investigation nearly done
Commissioner Roger Goodell says an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment in the Washington Football Team’s organization will be finished soon
2:23PM ( 22 hours ago )
Check downs? More like checkmate as Chiefs take what's given
Casual football fans might describe the Chiefs offense as a go-for-broke, throw-it-deep bunch built around flat-out speed
1:27PM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Sports - NFL
Out of this world: Shepard puts golf on moon 50 years ago
Fifty years later, Alan Shepard holds his place in golf history as the only person to hit a shot on the moon
1:10PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Mets beat Davis, Orioles top Santander in arbitration
The Mets defeated J
1:06PM ( 12 minutes ago )
AP INTERVIEW: China granted WHO team full access in Wuhan
A member of the World Health Organization expert team investigating the origins of the  coronavirus in Wuhan says the Chinese side granted full access to all sites and personnel they requested
1:05PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Coronavirus cases drop at US homes for elderly and infirm
Coronavirus cases have dropped at U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care facilities over the past few weeks
1:03PM ( 14 minutes ago )
The Latest: Florida-LSU hoops skedded for Saturday postponed
The Southeastern Conference says Saturday’s basketball game between Florida and LSU has been postponed
1:00PM ( 17 minutes ago )