TAMPA — The Bucs’ friend in the first half of Super Bowl 55 might have been the yellow flag.
Yes, the Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski connection is a Super Bowl staple. And the Bucs defense had Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes flustered as Tampa Bay took a 21-6 halftime lead. But the Chiefs helped the Bucs move down the field in the first half with their penchant for penalties.
The Chiefs were flagged eight times for 95 yards, including six that led to first downs, which is already a Super Bowl record. The previous mark was four.
Kansas City had a Tyrann Mathieu’s interception of Tom Brady in the second quarter negated by defensive holding call by Charvarius Ward.
Four plays later, the Chiefs had stopped the Bucs before Mecole Hardman’s offsides penalty on a Tampa Bay field-goal attempt gave the Bucs a first down to extend the same drive, one that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Rob Gronkowski on the next play.
Then, on the Bucs’ final drive of the half, a pair of defensive pass interference calls drawn by Mike Evans accounted for 42 yards. Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland’s pass interference call on a deep ball that was just out of Evans’ reach was a 34-yard penalty.
The second defensive pass interference, which was called on Mathieu, was an 8-yard flag that put the ball at the Chiefs 1-yard line. Brady hit Antonio Brown for a touchdown on the next play, and Mathieu, who was on the coverage, was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct call after the play.
It ended with Brady and Mathieu in an animated facemask-to-facemask argument.
Kansas City was one of the league’s most penalized teams in the regular season, ranking fourth with 105 penalties.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.
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