One of the post-Super Bowl LV notes that best illustrates the sheer weight of Tom Brady's postseason accomplishments is this one: With seven championship rings, Brady know has more Super Bowl victories as an individual than any team does as a franchise.
However, this is precisely the wrong moment to revel in that note, at least in Brady's presence, because the last thing he wants to do in the afterglow of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' championship-game win over Kansas City is separate individual and team.
After watching the offense succeed just as well on the ground as it did through the air, the defense relentlessly chase Patrick Mahomes into the worst game of his career and the special teams cap a strong night with Ryan Succop's 52-yard field goal, Brady described the Buccaneers' Super Bowl LV performance the way any objective viewer would have: It was a complete team effort.
In fact, that's exactly what Brady saw over the last two months as the Bucs streaked to the title with eight straight wins, including an incredible three-game run of road victories in the playoffs. While the Buccaneers are the first team ever to score 30-plus points in four games in the same postseason, it was obvious throughout the last month that the defense was more than pulling its weight. That was particularly true in an unparalleled gauntlet of games against future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and (most believe) Patrick Mahomes. The Buccaneers are the first team to beat three former Super Bowl MVPs on their way to the title.
"To go to Washington and get a win there…our team's first chance at the playoffs was incredible," said Brady. "Then to go to New Orleans and watch the defense play against a Saints team which really beat us pretty well two teams in the season. Then to go up and play the MVP of the league and watch our defense play they way they did, then again last night was pretty spectacular.
"Offensively we made some great plays when we needed to but it was the ultimate team effort. Ultimate team. As BA said, it's an amazing team, an amazing group of guys and I'm very blessed to be a part of it."
Three different Buccaneer defenders got a hand in the Bucs' three sacks of Mahomes Sunday night, and five registered quarterback hits. Nearly every one of the Bucs' defensive linemen were at some point in hot pursuit of the Chiefs' quarterback. Seven different players accounted for the Bucs' nine pass breakups. On offense, running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II had 89 and 61 yards on the ground, respectively. No player had more than Rob Gronkowski's 67 receiving yards but five different players had a key catch of 15 or more yards. The offensive line made it all work. There were even four different Buccaneers who turned in a special teams tackle. Brady was voted the game's MVP but he knew it took more than his three touchdown passes to get the job done.
In the postseason as a whole, six different Bucs had a hand in the team's 10 sacks, eight had quarterback hits, 12 had at least one pass defensed and four secured an interception. Seven different players combined to catch Brady's 10 touchdown passes. Succop made all nine of his field goal tries.
"Everybody just worked at it together, that was the best part," said Brady. "It was just everyone, every day showing up – 'Hey, this is what we're going to do. This is how we're going to do it. This is how we're going to try to make it better.' We just worked every day. … Guys showed up every day wanting to put the work in, and when you do that it usually pays off. It doesn't always pay off but most of the time it does. Guys put the work in and we all went out and got it done."
The Buccaneers finally secured their Super Bowl LV victory at 10:12 p.m. ET. Not surprisingly Brady said the "best part" after the game ended was watching long-time Buccaneer veterans like Lavonte David and Mike Evans celebrate after their first and long-awaited taste of the playoffs also turned into their first championships. Brady knew they had put in the long fight, not only for much of the past decade but also over the course of a season that was like no other one in NFL history.
"I've been in the league for a long time [and] rarely does the season ever just go smooth sailing," he said. "Every team deals with adversities. It has to overcome different obstacles over the course of the year. Sometimes you start slow, sometimes, you know – we had a middle stretch where we didn't play our best, we played some really good football teams – and then sometimes you struggle a little late and you've got to get it going. But this team found a way when it mattered most. There were so many great plays by great players on our team at the biggest moments."