The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. The game will take place at Raymond James Stadium, with kick-off set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 7th, to be broadcast on CBS.
How did the Bucs advance through the 2020 NFL season to become the first team in history to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium? We’ll break down their season here.
Tampa Bay’s journey to the Super Bowl began with its decision to move on from Jameis Winston. Winston led the league in passing yards and interceptions in 2019. Still, the Buccaneers decided to not attempt to re-sign him the following season to acquire a less turnover-prone quarterback. Tampa Bay won the Tom Brady sweepstakes, and his move inspired others to join up.
Brady inherited an impressive receiving corps led by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. His group of pass-catchers got even better when Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to join his former New England Patriots teammate. Running backs LeSean Mcoy and Leonard Fournette joined up shortly after, making Tampa Bay’s already impressive depth look even better on paper. The Buccaneers’ star power on offense and elite defensive line didn’t make them invincible, though.
Tampa Bay opened up the 2020 season with a bad loss to the New Orleans Saints, and it became evident to everyone that central Florida’s favorite team had some kinks to iron out. The Bucs won their next three games before suffering their second loss of the season to the Chicago Bears in Week 5, but things started looking up from Week 6 onward.
Antonio Brown’s suspension ended in October, and the former Pittsburgh Steelers star signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay. While the Bucs did drop a second game to the Saints and fall to the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, they went 9-3 between Week 6 and the end of the regular season. The four-game winning streak they went on to end the regular season gave them the momentum to clear some major hurdles in the postseason.
Tampa Bay got in an unexpected fight with the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card Round thanks to an unexpectedly good performance from Taylor Heinicke in his second career NFL start and first-ever playoff appearance. Brady’s connection with Evans and a strong showing from Fournette on the ground powered the Bucs to a 31-23 win in the end. That victory gave Tampa Bay a third crack at the Saints.
New Orleans couldn’t manage to go 3-0 against Tampa Bay because of Drew Brees' struggles. Brees threw for just 134 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions in the Divisional Round. The Buccaneers’ defense took him out of the game and made up for a subpar showing from Brady, who completed just 54 percent of his passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Another all-around game from Fournette, who scored two touchdowns, helped the Bucs secure a 30-20 win.
The NFC Championship brought a rematch between the top-seeded Green Bay Packers, who Tampa Bay blew out during the regular season thanks to an uncharacteristically bad game from Aaron Rodgers. The Packers put up a better fight this time around with a healthy receiving corps. The Bucs shut down the ground game, but Rodgers threw for 346 yards and three scores with one interception. The game seemed destined to go down to the wire, but a late-game decision by Matt LaFleur to kick a field goal while down eight points allowed Tampa Bay to run the clock out down the stretch to secure a win. Brady’s three interceptions were a cause for concern, but Fournette’s power running and the Bucs’ hard-hitting defense made up for offensive inconsistency.
Now Tampa Bay gets to host the reigning champs in its home stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. Can the Bucs bounce back and come out with a win after losing by a field goal to the Chiefs during the regular season, or will Kansas City complete a sweep?