If the Super Bowl MVP could be given to coaches, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles likely would have been walking away with the trophy.
Bowles' game plan shut down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs offense, leading to a career-worst performance from the game's best quarterback and a resume-stamping 31-9 victory for the Buccaneers defensive coordinator.
Speaking to Peter King of NBC Sports after the victory, Bowles broke down his game plan that stopped the Chiefs' vaunted offense in its tracks. Bowles said he de-emphasized blitzes and sending extra rushers over fear of being beaten on short passes, had a scheme to shadow Tyreek Hill around the field and allowed a hobbled Mahomes to scramble if he pleased.
Mostly, though, Bowles credited his "pissed off" players for getting the job done:
"My guys were pissed off. The biggest thing they do is read, and they got TV all the time. Nobody picked us and gave us a chance to win. They were really pissed off about that. Combine that with the things we missed the first game against them, they really wanted to prove something tonight on the biggest stage against the best team. They played Drew Brees with [Michael] Thomas and [Alvin] Kamara. They played Aaron Rodgers with [Aaron] Jones and [Davante] Adams. Now they faced Mahomes with [Travis] Kelce and Tyreek. You know, we earned it. We beat three of the best, the top five in the league."
The Bucs managed to generate consistent pressure up front despite not sending extra pass-rushers, owing in part to an excellent performance from their front four and the fact that the Chiefs' offensive line was in tatters. Injuries across the line left Mahomes with a makeshift group that failed to hold down the fort, leading to near-constant throws under duress.
The Bucs held Mahomes without a touchdown pass for the first time this season, limiting him to 270 yards and picking him off twice. His 52.3 quarterback rating was the single worst of his career.
"They were the better team today," Mahomes told reporters. "They beat us pretty good, the worst I think I've been beaten in a long time. They took away our deep stuff. They took away the sidelines, and they did a good job of rallying to the football and making tackles. We weren't executing early, had a few miscues. Guys weren't on the same page. Credit to them. They played a heck of a game defensively and offensively to beat us."
The virtuoso performance will likely lead Bowles to the top of nearly every coaching search next offseason. Bowles previously spent four years as the New York Jets' head coach, posting a 24-40 record.