Tampa Bay jumped to a 7-3 lead after the first quarter and added 14 more points before halftime, giving the Bucs a 21-6 lead. Kansas City would add just one more field goal in the third quarter, sealing their fate in a 31-9 loss, the 11th-highest point differential in Super Bowl history.
It was worse than that, though. The drubbing put Super Bowl LV in the conversation for least exciting Super Bowl ever — and that includes many of the dull Super Bowls from the 1980s.
The Washington Post measured each Super Bowl’s “enjoyment level” by examining two factors, each on a scale from 0 to 100, with a higher number representing a more entertaining game. The first factor was the game’s competitiveness and tension, measured by how close the score was at the end of each quarter. The second was how much fun the game was to watch, measured by the overall win probability swings — the steeper the dips and climbs, the better. Sunday’s game had neither tension nor swings.
The Buccaneers crafted the perfect game plan, pressuring Mahomes on 29 of his 56 dropbacks, the most of any quarterback in Super Bowl history, per ESPN. The Buccaneers sacked the former league MVP three times and limited him to 270 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He was also 3 for 13 on third-down attempts and just 1 for 3 on fourth down, capping one of the worst performances of his career. The Chiefs managed just nine points, their lowest offensive output with Mahomes starting under center.
Tampa Bay, on the other hand, had no problems finding the end zone. Brady threw three touchdowns passes, two to tight end Rob Gronkowski and one to wideout Antonio Brown. Running back Leonard Fournette added one more on the ground.
“They were the better team today,” Mahomes said. “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.”
In terms of competitiveness and tension, as measured by the score at the end of each quarter, Sunday’s game earned a rating of 26 out of 100, making it the eighth-least-competitive Super Bowl. It did even worse on the pleasure scale; the win probability never swung in the Chiefs’ favor, earning this contest a 2 out of 100 for how much fun it was to watch. Combined, that earned Super Bowl LV a spot in the top 10 snoozers of all time at No. 7. Only eight Super Bowls managed to be as bad or worse in both categories, making this one of the least enjoyable title games for fans without a rooting interest.
The final margin was a throwback to the disappointing Super Bowls of the 1980s. Washington destroyed Denver, 42-10, in Super Bowl XXII at the conclusion of the 1987 season. San Francisco would crush Denver two years later, 55-10, in Super Bowl XXIV. Half of the 10 Super Bowls from that decade had a final margin of 20 or more points. Eight of the 10 were double-digit wins.
More recently, Seattle beat Denver (sorry, Broncos), 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII, perhaps the least enjoyable title game of all time. Tampa Bay defeated Oakland, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII, another lopsided affair. New England and the Los Angeles Rams treated everyone to a 13-3 snooze fest in Super Bowl LIII.
Denver’s blowout losses to Seattle and Washington were the second- and third-least enjoyable Super Bowls, according to our enjoyment tracker. The least enjoyable Super Bowl, according to this metric, was Super Bowl III, the Jets’ famous 16-7 upset of the Baltimore Colts.