A Minute-by-Minute Recap of Super Bowl LIV

NFL Feb 07, 2021

(All times PST)


3 pm – CBS network opens the broadcast with a wonderful 5-minute musical montage to all the health care workers, first-responders, front-line professionals, and the relatives of the players and coaches who sare sharing this magical moment.  Awesome.

3:25 – Vince Lombardi, for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named, appears on video and then onscreen in the stadium and adds a message of hope and inspiration.  More awesome.

3:27 – "America the Beautiful" is performed by H.E.R. on the electric guitar.  Even more awesome.

3:29 – "The Star-Spangled Banner" is performed onfield by country star Eric Church and R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan in a stirring duet.  The mix of voices and styles works perfectly.  Incredibly awesome.

3:33 – America's Poet Laurette, Amanda Gorman, who moved millions with her recitial at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration reads her own short poem at the coin toss.  Very unusual, but the moment works – both as great drama and moving prose in this moment of unity.

3:38 – Heroes are honored and the coin toss goes into the air.  Billions of dollars change hands in the opening seconds.  The coin lands heads.  Tampa Bay gets the ball first when Kansas City defers.

3:40 – Jim Nantz, the play-by-play announcer with CBS is just the right voice to call the action.  We've enjoyed Nantz for many years as the voice of The Masters (golf).  His serious and compassionate tone is the ideal accompaniment to a Super Bowl played under unusual conditions.

3:45 – Actor Brad Pitt narrates a short intro, which is a montage of clips featuring Tom Brady and Pat Mahomes -- "The Greatest of All-Time vs. The Greatest of This Time."


3:46 – Opening kickoff.

3:50 – Tampa goes 3 and out.  Really poor opening drive for the Bucs.

3:55 – Kansas City gets one first down, then goes nowhere.  Chiefs have to punt.  That's two punts in the first four minutes of the game.  UNDER bettors already celebrating.

4:00 – Tampa Bay starts a short drive, then sputters.  Brady sacked for the first time.  Three punts in opening 7 minutes.  UNDER bettors ecstatic.

4:05 – Kansas City crosses midfield.  Drive stalls at the 32, and Harrison Butker comes in and nails a 49-yarder for the first points of the game.  Chiefs lead 3-0.

4:15 – Tampa Bay begins moving the ball on its third drive.  Brady's slow starts in Super Bowls (no touchdowns on opening two drives in any game) continues, but he leads the Bucs on a nice drive that burns clock and shows they can move the ball with both the run and pass.  Gronk scores on a pass from Brady with seconds left in the opening quarter.  Lots of money changes hands on that play.

4:30 – Following five minutes of television commericals, the first quarter officially ends.  Score:  Tampa Bay 7, Kansas City 3

4:35 – On the Chiefs' subsequent drive, they get a great kickoff return, then go nowhere.  Kansas City kickers have been busy, so far.

4:40 – The Bucs orchestrate a near-perfect drive, that comes up just inches short of the goal line.  Key play is WR Mike Evans catching one over the middle from Brady, good for gain for 31.  Then, the drive stalls at the 1 when RB Jones can't punch it in on 4th down and goal.  Huge defensive stop for Kansas City.  UNDER bettors lovin' it.    

4:42:  Chiefs take over posession 99 yards from the opposite goal line.  For bettors, safety props are riding on the next few plays.  Kansas City bursts out to the 20, giving them breathing room.  TE Kelce drops a pass that would have been good for a big gain, and Kansas City has to punt again.  All the offensive props on Kansas City are starting to look shaky.

4:50 – The Chiefs punter shanks his second kick of the day, which no one saw coming, since Kansas City rarely has to punt given their prolific offense.      

5:00 – Tampa Bay drives 25 yards and gets into field goal range.  Inexplicably, a Kansas City defensive player lines up in the neutral zone on the kick attempt, gets flagged, and the Bucs are awarded a first down.  As terrific as the Chiefs were on the previous drive stopping Tampa Bay just short of the goal line, this ranks as a monumentally stupid blunder.  Two plays later, Brady hits Gronkowski in the back of the end zone for an easy touchdown.  Score:  Bucs 14, Chiefs 3.

5:05 – Kansas City gets the ball back almost certain to be down at halftime, with about 6 minutes left in the second quarter.  Finally, a drive comes together.  Mahomes hits multiple targets on 10-15 yard gains and gets into the red zone as the clock ticks to the 2-minute warning.  Kansas City hits a brick wall and goes nowhere.  Another field goal, this time from 34 yards out.  Score with a minute left in the first half:  Bucs 14, Chiefs 6.

5:17 – Brady in command of the 2-minute drive is always dangerous.  Tampa Bay loves the way this game has gone, thusfar.  Tampa Bay gets a pass interference call that's obvious with about 20 ticks left.  That gives Brady three free cracks at the end zone, and bingo – another flag flies in for pass interference.  Next play – touchdown!  Brady to Brown.  Chiefs have 7 penalties for 80 yards.  Bucs enjoy a 21-6 lead at halftime.

5:29 – Casual fans flock to TVs to watch the halftime show.  Gamblers flock to computer screens and smart phones to check the second-half line.  Kansas City -7.5 and O/U 28.

5:35The Weeknd performs at halftime, and puts on a great (lip-syched) show, which is, of course, an oxymoron.  Just the right mix of songs and a super stage show, for which the performer deserves credit (he reportedly spent millions out of his own pocket on the production).  Given the uneven quality of halftime shows in the past, this one ranks among the best.  The full orchestra in the back, socially distanced, is a fabulous look.


6:00 – Second-half kickoff.  Chiefs get the ball first, and suddenly, this opening drive of quarter 3 becomes intensely interesting.  Can Tampa Bay's defense continue to dominate as they have for the opening 30 minutes?  Although the Chiefs do manage to score, nonetheless, this ends up being a good drive for the Bucs.  Once the Chiefs hit the 35-yard-line, the drive stalls.  Again.  Field goal attempt – good.  Tampa Bay will take these results all night long.  Score:  Bucs up 21-9 and get the ball.

6:05 – Tampa Bay appears fully in control of things and then proves it on a key drive that really takes the sails out of the Kansas City sideline.  Brady orchestrates a picture perfect drive.  There's no pass rush.  Brady has all day.  RB Fournette breaks a run for a score and the Bucs are making this an ass-kicking.  Bucs ahead 28-9 about midway through the 3rd quarter.

6:10 – Even though the forcast for thundstorms in Tampa Stadium never materializes, when it rains, it pours.  Patrick Mahomes is a cool quarterback under pressure.  But this has turned into his biggest career test.  Kansas City starts running a hurry-up offense.  Then, disaster strikes when he's sacked and on the following play hurls an interception that comes off a deflection.  Bucs will the ball sitting on a 19-point lead.  Another score here might be the final nail in the Chief's coffin.

6:17 – Tampa Bay plays this drive to the letter.  Start working the clock, but get points.  The Bucs run off about four minutes, and settle for a field goal.  They take a 31-9 lead.  So, Kansas City now needs three touchdowns and a two-point conversion. To tie. Most observers sense this game's outcome is now settled.

6:20 – The Chiefs deserately need to score, and not just field goals.  Remarkably, they've been kept out of the end zone all day long.  No one saw that coming.  Chiefs offense finally mounts a drive and as the 3rd quarter ends, they're down to about the Tampa Bay 30.  There's only 15 minutes remaining in the NFL season.  Super Bowl win #6 is within grasp for the G.O.A.T.

6:25 – On 4th and 9 at the 11, Mahomes floats a pass that's batted around and hits the turf.  Tampa Bay ball.  Time to start moving the champagne into the home team's locker room.

6:35 – Tampa Bay starts running the ball which milks the clock down to the point of the impossible comeback for Kansas City.  A six-minute drive seals the game for the Bucs, but the highlight of the drive is a shot of Bucs' head coach Bruce Arians' mother watching the game.  She's 95-years-old.  Arians has coached in this league for a long time.  How special are these closing minutes to be able to share them with Mom.  Awesome moment.  The outcome now appears inevitable.

6:40 – In a night with dozens of utterly forgettable television commercials, easily the best ad of the night appears with singer Bruce Springsteen voicing a message of unity for Jeep.  Very moving.

6:45 – Chiefs have the ball again midway into the 4th, but there's simply not enough time to do much other than rack up a few stats and try to get into the end zone at least once.  An idiot fan runs on the field at the 6-minute mark and the game in rudely interrupted while order is restored.  Next play, Mahomes is sacked for a 15-yard loss.  That sums up the game for the Chiefs.

6:52 – Tampa Bay takes over on downs with 4:05 remaining in the game.  A couple of first down seals it.  They can't quite run it out, and the Chiefs get it back from one final drive to try and make the final score look more respectable.

7:11 – Mahomes throws an interception down on the 10-yard line.  Tampa Bay ball.  Two kneels and it's over.

7:16 – :03....:02....:01....:00.  Final score:  Tampa Bay 31, Kansas City 9.  Super Bowl LIV champions – Tampa Bay Buccaneers.