The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 on Sunday, winning the franchise's second Lombardi trophy in as many tries.
That would not have been possible if not for a herculean effort from the Tampa Bay defense.
Looking at the overall impact of the Buccaneers defense, it was tangibly disruptive to the 2020 Super Bowl champions. It took Patrick Mahomes until well into the third quarter to even surpass 100 total passing yards, and the team was held to nine points.
This was the first time the Kansas City Chiefs were held without an offensive touchdown since November of 2017.
The outstanding play of the defense was instructive in Tampa Bay’s win, and a key part of the Bucs defense comes from a backbone of veteran Huskers.
At the age of 34, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh won his first Super Bowl ring in his second appearance. He was also a part of the 2019 Super Bowl for the Los Angeles Rams, but he lost to the New England Patriots.
Suh was a menace on the interior of the defense line, helping to force a Super Bowl record 29 pressures on Mahomes. Suh tallied two tackles, 0.5 sacks and two quarterback hits in the game.
Linebacker Lavonte David was drafted by Tampa Bay in the second round with the 58th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. Since then, he has become an All-Pro and team captain. David had six tackles and two passes defended in the game, helping to secure the win even more.
His impact on this team is not limited to his statistical output, but his veteran leadership and presence. He is the most senior player on the Buccaneers — this being his ninth season with the team.
Until this year, it had not been a great eight years for the Buccaneers. Over that span, the Buccaneers had a record of 45-83, a winning percentage of just 0.351. Their playoff appearance drought went even further back to 2007 when they lost in the Wild Card Round. Jeff Garcia was their quarterback that season, and Jon Gruden was their head coach.
General manager Jason Licht is a Fremont, Nebraska native and played for Nebraska from 1989-1991 before transferring to Nebraska Wesleyan. Licht played a large part in elevating Tampa Bay from 7-9 last season to a Super Bowl winning roster this year.
Licht made key draft picks, including offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first round and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. in the second round.
He also re-signed key defensive talents in linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett as well as Suh. Of course, the crown jewel of the Buccaneers’ offseason was the signing of quarterback Tom Brady.
Tampa Bay’s defensive unit, composed of current, former and future Pro Bowlers all over the field, is physical in both its pursuit of the quarterback and its coverage downfield. It is a group that was also number one in rush defense in 2020, and it will look to retain almost all of their key players.
It is partly led by two veteran NFL players and former Huskers.