2021 Australian Open: What to Watch on Tuesday Night


Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. TuesdayAndrey Rublev vs. Daniil MedvedevAndrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev secured the ATP Cup for Russia earlier this month, with neither player losing a singles match throughout. In their three meetings on the ATP Tour, Medvedev has come out on top each time, including in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.This may be Rublev’s chance to finally overcome his friendly rival. He has looked particularly dominant, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. His match against Casper Ruud ended after only two sets when the Norwegian withdrew with an injury. Going into the quarterfinals, Rublev has led the field in both percentage of first service points won and second service points won, a sign of how hard it has been for opponents to break his serve.Medvedev has also been playing well, aside from a chaotic, disorganized third round match against Filip Krajinovic. He has now won 18 matches in a row, with his last loss coming in October at a tournament in Vienna. Although the fast surface fits Medvedev’s flat baseline shots, Rublev’s open stance is well suited in defense, and we’re sure to see many dynamic, aggressive point.Rod Laver Arena | 3:30 a.m. WednesdayRafael Nadal vs. Stefanos TsitsipasRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has moved smoothly through the first four rounds, no surprise for a player with 20 Grand Slam titles. Although Nadal won his only Australian Open title over a decade ago, he has reached the finals on four other occasions since, and is a clear favorite in his half of the draw to do so again. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots are well-suited to clay courts where he can drag opponents around with tightly angled shots. Nadal’s ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses with relentless pressure can break most players on their best days.Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP finals winner in 2019, is a study in unpredictability. The fifth seed has a capable all-court game, but lacks the consistency to execute match after match. The 22-year-old has worked to improve this aspect of his game, but needed five sets to push back unseeded Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. After receiving a walkover in the round of 16, Tsitsipas will be well rested and hoping for an advantage against one of the most mentally tough players on tour.

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2021 Australian Open: What to Watch on Sunday Night


Daniil Medvedev, the fourth seed, struggled in his third round matchup against Filip Krajinovic, losing the third and fourth sets in spectacular fashion. Medvedev cycled between yelling at himself in Russian, his coach in French, and Krajinovic’s well placed volleys in English. In the fifth set, Medvedev settled back in and won six straight games.For McDonald to pull off an upset, he will need to exploit Medvedev’s natural volatility. Medvedev should be able to keep McDonald at bay if he can keep calm and use his varied shots to pull the American around the edges of the court.Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. SundayRafael Nadal vs. Fabio FogniniRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has struggled with a small back injury throughout the first week of the Australian Open. However, this has not stopped him from rolling past his opposition without dropping a set. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots have consistently pushed his opponents around the court, depriving them of the time necessary to impose their own ideas upon a rally.Fabio Fognini, the 16th seed, has had a roller coaster week. He struggled in a five-set contest against a fellow Italian, Salvatore Caruso, but then dispatched the 21st seed, Alex de Minaur, in just three sets. Fognini, who won a doubles title at the Australian Open in 2015, has been to the round of 16 in Melbourne four times, and will have a difficult time overcoming Nadal.Rod Laver Arena | 3 a.m. MondayAshleigh Barty vs. Shelby RogersAshleigh Barty, the world No. 1, has moved through to the fourth round without dropping a set. In her third round victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova she played smart tennis, not going for big shots and allowing Alexandrova to overplay and extracting 30 unforced errors.Shelby Rogers, an unseeded player, has reached two major quarterfinals, but has never won a WTA tournament. Her inconsistency on tour can partially be blamed on ruptured cartilage in her knee, which required surgery in 2018.Barty and Rogers faced off in the quarterfinals of the Yarra Valley Classic last week, with Barty winning in a third-set tiebreaker. For Rogers to reverse her fortunes, she’ll need to play aggressively without over-hitting, a tough needle to thread.

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ในฐานะผู้เล่นที่ทำกำไร“ Hard Quarantine” ที่ Australian Open


เบรดี้กล่าวว่าเธอนอนหลับมากกว่าปกติในช่วง 14 วันโดยมักจะไม่ตื่นจนกระทั่งเวลา 11.00 น. เธอทำงานวันละสองครั้งตอนเที่ยงและประมาณ 17.00 น. Michael Geserer โค้ชของ Brady กล่าวว่าขณะที่ Brady ใช้ลูกเทนนิสซึ่งเป็นจักรยานที่อยู่กับที่ และน้ำหนักงานที่สำคัญที่สุดของเธอคือจิตใจ “ เราไม่สามารถจำลองการปฏิบัติในศาลได้ แต่เราพยายามปรับตัวให้เข้ากับสถานการณ์ใหม่นี้ให้มากที่สุด” Geserer กล่าว “ สิ่งที่สำคัญที่สุดคือวิธีคิด เราไม่ได้บ่น เราเอาไปเลย “Geserer กล่าวว่าเขาชื่นชมทัศนคติเชิงบวกของ Brady” เธอมีวันที่เลวร้าย แต่เธอก็พยายามทำให้ดีที่สุดจากวันที่เลวร้ายของเธอ “เขากล่าว” นั่นก็สำคัญเช่นกัน: คุณจะไม่ได้เล่นเทนนิสที่ดีที่สุดของคุณ แต่เธอก็พยายามหาทางชนะ “สำหรับ เบรดี้ซึ่งเติบโตมาจากการจัดอันดับเมื่อฤดูกาลที่แล้วเมื่อเธอคว้าแชมป์ WTA ครั้งแรกและเข้าถึงรอบรองชนะเลิศ US Open การคุมขังที่ถูกบังคับได้พิสูจน์ให้เห็นถึงการหยุดพักที่น่ายินดี “การออกมาจากเขตกักบริเวณพูดเพื่อตัวเองฉันมีจิตใจที่สดชื่นขึ้นมาก “Brady กล่าว” เป็นปีที่ยาวนานสำหรับฉันเมื่อปีที่แล้วฉันไม่ได้พักผ่อนจริงๆลึก ๆ ฉันโชคดีนิดหน่อยที่ถูกขังไว้ 14 วันครั้งหนึ่งมันช่วยให้ฉันปรับความคิดของฉันได้ – และร่างกายด้วย “ขณะที่เธอกลับไปออกกำลังกายเมื่อถูกกักบริเวณจบลงเบรดี้รู้สึกโล่งใจกับความรู้สึกของเธอที่อยู่ในสนาม” สองครั้งแรกที่ฉันได้รับฉันพยายามที่จะรู้สึกถึงลูกบอลและเพียงแค่รู้สึกว่าฉันอยู่ในสนาม และเคลื่อนไหวไม่พยายามพูดเกินจริงเพราะฉันไม่ต้องการเสี่ยงต่อการบาดเจ็บ” เบรดี้กล่าว “ ฉันกลัวว่าจะเจ็บปวดมากซึ่งจริงๆแล้วมันไม่ใช่เลย”

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Making Week 2 of a Grand Slam Is a Leap. And Not Just for an Extra $80,000 in Australia.


Shelby Rogers, the 57th-ranked player from South Carolina, saw that her friends had advanced and, not wanting to be left behind, went out and beat the No. 21 seed Anett Kontaveit on the first night match at Rod Laver Arena.“I think there is this little bit of aura around the second week of a slam,” said Rogers, 28, who has reached the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam twice, at the 2016 French Open and the 2020 United States Open. Her fourth-round opponent will be the world No. 1, Ashleigh Barty of Australia.Pegula, 27, is the only one of the U.S. trio who is breaking new ground by reaching the fourth round in singles. She upset No. 13 Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion, in her opening match and has dropped 13 games in three matches. She said the groundwork for her victory on Saturday was laid in her straight-sets defeat to Petra Kvitova, a former world No. 2, in the third round of the U.S. Open last year.“With women’s tennis, I think the depth is so good right now,” said Pegula, whose next opponent is the fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina. “Sometimes figuring out how to scrape by the first week is really important when you’re not playing well. I think the best players find ways to win on their worst days.”Nadal, the world No. 2 who is bidding for a record 21st Grand Slam singles title, has found a way to scrape by during the first week with a balky back. His opponent on Saturday night was his British doppelgänger, Cameron Norrie, a lefthander who hits with a heavy topspin and defends well.Norrie, 25, has never advanced past the third round and his breakthrough will have to wait. Nadal, 34, handed him a 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 defeat at Rod Laver Arena. Norrie described the match as a good experience and said he’ll take “a lot” of positives from it. “I left the court feeling like I want to get better,” Norrie said.He added, “I did everything to try to make the second week. Rafa was too good.”

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Put a mask on, Tom Brady


Despite having family members nearly die due to COVID-19, Tom Brady continues to go maskless, Image: Getty ImagesTom Brady has won so many Lombardi Trophies that he just doesn’t seem to care anymore. It must be like being so rich that you can have whatever and however many cars you want, and just hand the keys to your McLaren to your teenager. After all, if something happens to it, it’s not a big deal – you have another one in the offsite air hanger that you use as a garage. Brady also apparently has never been drunk before. Doing his best college-kid-on-spring-break-in-Florida impression, he appeared quite sauced during the Super Bowl celebratory boat race thing that they decided to do in Tampa Bay. So much so, in fact, that he decided to chuck the Lombardi Trophy from his boat to a waiting Rob Gronkowski on another boat. I could write a dumb joke about “oh look, another Super Bowl touchdown pass from Brady to Gronk,” but I won’t. So played out.While it’s all fun and games to joke about his carelessness with a trophy, it’s also complete and total bullshit that there wasn’t a single mask to be seen. Apparently, he’s as careless with the trophy as he is with COVID. His father was in a life-and-death battle with COVID, and his mother is a cancer survivor. Brady’s father recently said that he wants his son to wear a mask more often. Apparently, Tom didn’t feel like listening to his father, as exemplified by not only his boat party shenanigans, but also by him arriving for the Super Bowl without wearing a mask. Oh, and that time he didn’t wear one after the NFC Championship Game. Or the time he got busted for not wearing one at Bucs’ workouts.Brady has demonstrated, continuously, that he is living in his own little world, doing whatever he damn well pleases, detached and unbothered by social issues, racism, the health of the community he lives in, and the health of his own family. Read the room, Tom. Your dad almost dies. Your mom is high risk. Wear a damn mask. .

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The push for Tom Brady as the greatest ever feels like Great White Hope talk


Tom Brady, the greatest athlete ever? Come on.Illustration: Getty ImagesOnce Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring on Sunday, you knew people would gush all over the 43-year-old Tampa Bay quarterback.It was a natural.After all, it gave Brady more championships than any other franchise in the league. The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots both own six championships, one behind Brady now.Many jumped at the chance to proclaim Brady was the Greatest Of All Time in the NFL — whether he was directly involved in his team actually winning the game or not.Brady has won more than half of his titles on the backs of his team’s defense, including this Super Bowl win over the Kansas City Chiefs.G/O Media may get a commissionFor the Brady fanboys, it didn’t matter. It was all about the ring total.Even if you didn’t fully agree, you could understand why some would make the case for him.Enter jumping the shark, going off the rails.The next leap was that Brady was the greatest team-sport athlete ever.Somehow, Brady had passed Michael Jordan now because Brady has seven rings to Jordan’s six.The notion just didn’t feel silly, it felt like there was more to the narrative, a sinister message, if you will.Plain and simple, it was the propping up of a white athlete over all Black athletes.Yes, it felt like the Great White Hope agenda. Especially to some in Black America.Some people, or so it seems, want the message to be that Brady, a former sixth-round draft pick, was not only the best player in a sport that is 70 percent Black, but the best in all sports.The leap isn’t logical at all.First of all, there’s Jordan, who was 6-0 in NBA Finals and won all six NBA Finals MVPs in the process.Then, there’s Bill Russell, who won 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics.There’s LeBron James, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and many others.Heck, there are other white players who won in team sports more than Brady. The Yankee’s Yogi Berra won 10 World Series in New York.So it can’t just be a ring count that makes you the greatest.And even as great as Brady is, many will concede that he isn’t the best quarterback ever. Maybe, the most accomplished — because of all his records and titles — but hardly the greatest who ever played.Even Hall of Fame former Packers’ QB Brett Favre couldn’t co-sign that. Here’s what he said about Brady on a Boston radio show:“I think Tom Brady, his leadership, his competitiveness, you know, is he the most talented quarterback? I don’t think anyone would say that, but he’s got the It factor that you hear people talk about.”The “It factor” is a long cry from being the greatest team-sport athlete.This current over-the-top narrative feels like when Larry Bird came on the scene in the NBA. Fans and TV announcers talked about Bird’s play as if he’d invented basketball. There was the feeling that there was a narrative that the best player in an 80 percent Black league was white.Obviously, Bird was a great player. It wasn’t as if they were trying to push a bum.We’ve seen that in boxing with the likes of heavyweight Gerry Cooney, a made-up contender who never won jack.But the Bird hype put off some folks so much that Dennis Rodman and Isiah Thomas pushed back and called it out at the time.Rodman said in 1987 that Bird was overrated because he was white. “I don’t think he’s the greatest player,” Rodman said to the media back then. “Why does he get so much publicity? Because he’s white. You never hear about Black players being the greatest.”Both players were made to apologize for their comments. But they were legitimate and honest. Many Black fans sitting at home heard the same coming through their TVs.“The big controversy isn’t about my saying professional athletes are stereotyped,” Thomas told the New York Times. “The controversy is that I said Larry Bird, if he was Black, would be just another good guy. But I think you would all agree that stereotypes do exist.”For sure, Brady is a great player, hardly the greatest. It’s just some say he is in the hope of convincing others that he actually is. .

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Serena Williams and Tom Brady: Ageless Wonders With a Difference


MELBOURNE, Australia — As fans fished for autographs by tying cords around oversize tennis balls and dangling them over the rail for Serena Williams, her mind drifted to the other side of the world.“How amazing!” Williams muttered, as much to herself as anyone else, while she scribbled her signature after her 6-1, 6-1 first-round victory against Laura Siegemund at the Australian Open on Monday. “Can you imagine winning the Super Bowl at 43?”In the lead-up to this year’s Open, Williams, 39, had repeatedly expressed her admiration for Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback who delivered his seventh Super Bowl title on Sunday night. His determination and excellence have inspired her “since when he beat Kurt Warner,” she said, referring to the New England Patriots’ victory over the St. Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl.Brady’s only misstep, Williams joked last week, was his choice of teams last year as a free agent. “I mean, he just should have come to the Dolphins, really,” said Williams, who owns a minority stake in Miami’s N.F.L. franchise along with her sister Venus.Williams, 39, sees in Brady a kindred spirit, someone whose appetite for competition and desire to succeed have not receded over time. “I look at Tom Brady, it’s so inspiring,” she said.With his latest title, his first outside New England, Brady brought to a boil the long-simmering debate about sports’ greatest athlete. That discussion must include Williams, a 23-time major winner whose next Grand Slam singles title will tie Margaret Court’s career record. And Williams, 39, may be the only member of greatest-ever debate to have won one of her titles while pregnant. She delivered her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, via an emergency C-section on Sept. 1, 2017, nearly seven months after she won the Australian Open. She said they haven’t spent a day apart since.“Is that healthy?” Williams said Monday. She laughed. “Not at all. Not even close. But every single day I just want to be around her.”Williams’s choice to be a doting parent, come hell or hard quarantine, may be where her path most clearly diverges from Brady’s. Two weeks before the Super Bowl, Brady was reportedly alone in his Tampa mansion, having sent away his wife and three children so he could give his undivided attention to football for the 12 days leading to the big game.Two weeks before the Australian Open, Williams was finishing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation, which required her to hole up in a hotel for 19 hours a day with her husband, the tech entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian, and their high-spirited daughter.Williams acknowledged that Brady’s preparation made more sense, but said, “I wasn’t strong enough to do the banishment.”She added: “I would not have been able to function without my 3-year-old around. Not even close. I think I would be in a depression.”Elite athletes typically don’t do much in their down time on the days or weeks in which they are competing, preserving their energy for the bursts of effort their sports demand. For Williams, the accelerating and downshifting processes are compressed. She’s a drag racer, going in a flash from mama to megastar.One of her matches at a tuneup event last week at Melbourne Park ended just after 8 p.m., leaving Williams caught in parenting territory similar to the terra incognita between the service line and baseline. Olympia’s bedtime was 8:30. Should she rush back to tuck in her baby or go through her usual post-match paces and make peace with not seeing her daughter until the morning?Her instinct was to rush home. “But I’m a little torn,” Williams said in her post-match news conference that day. “I’m like, maybe I should just let her go to bed so she doesn’t get too moody.”Williams added: “She’s too hyper. She needs her rest. She’s a busy kid. She has a fully booked schedule.”Like mother, like daughter. “She really is,” Williams said with a reflective sigh.Before another of Williams’s matches last week, Ohanian walked to his seat. In his arms he carried a squirming Olympia, who pointed to Williams on the court and said, “Hey, that’s my mama!”Williams said her daughter knows that the court is her office. But does she assume every working woman plays tennis? Williams isn’t sure. Sometimes when Olympia attends matches or practice sessions, she’ll freak out Williams by mimicking everyone else and calling her Serena.Williams said: “I’m like: ‘You can’t say Serena. You have to call me Mama.’”Williams’s second round opponent will be a 24-year-old Serbian, Nina Stojanovic, who was younger than Olympia when Serena won the first of her 73 W.T.A. Tour titles. Stojanovic would do well to tune out the player introductions Wednesday since it requires a sizable chunk of the six-minute warm-up period to recite Williams’s achievements.“When the announcer said on the court, ‘23 Grand Slam titles, seven Australian Opens,’ he was like, ‘14 doubles titles,’ then he starts talking about mixed doubles, I’m like jeez,” Williams said last week.But none of what Williams has done matters as much to her as what is left to accomplish. When Brady said before the Super Bowl that his favorite championship is his next one, it resonated with Williams. “That would absolutely be my answer, for sure,” she said.Why?“Because otherwise you’re living off of what you already did,” she said.That mind-set is why Williams can conduct a tour of the trophy room in her house in Miami, as she recently did for Architectural Digest, and struggle to identify which trophies are from which tournament.It was why she is unbothered that one of her seven Wimbledon trophies disappeared after a party she threw with Venus several years ago. Or maybe it was one of Venus’s five that vanished. “Was that my Wimbledon trophy or was that her Wimbledon trophy?” Williams said. “The argument is still going on.”She added wryly, “Conversations in the Williams home.”Since her daughter’s birth, Williams has appeared in two Grand Slam finals but has yet to win one. With her next Grand Slam title, she can show everybody, as Brady did Sunday in Tampa, that she still has the power to amaze.“You can’t say it was the system he was at formerly,” Williams said, referring to Brady’s six Super Bowl titles under Coach Bill Belichick in New England. But she knows better. “It’s definitely Tom Brady.”

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There is something about Brady, I just have no idea what it is


He sure does win a lot.Photo: Getty ImagesAnyway, to the game. Over the next few days, you’ll see plenty of takes, and the term “GOAT”, which needs to be erased from our vernacular yesterday. I don’t know if Brady is the greatest. With an unimaginable seven rings and a record five Super Bowl MVPs, he’s the most decorated, that’s for sure. It’s not a debate that can ever end. What I do find, is that myself and others who are fatigued of it all seem to keep making excuses for why he wins. Just this year: Oh, his first opponent was the worst playoff team of all-time. Drew Brees is clinically dead. Something always happens to the Packers. The Chiefs’ offensive line was a mess. And yet it’s every year the anyone-but-Tom crowd has to come up with these reasons or explanations or excuses. It’s Belichick (guess that one might not ring as true anymore). It’s the system. It’s the refs. Whatever. But after seven of these, and 10 trips overall, there has to be something we can’t quantify. It is said that great teams, great players, are up on the scoreboard before the teams take the field/court/ice. There’s just some block their opponents have before the clock starts. You know who’s on the other side, you know the challenge, and it’s hard to picture yourself or your team overcoming it because so few before have. Maybe Brady’s teams are up 10-0 before the game even starts. That can apply to the refs. All great players and teams seem to get the calls, because they’re in position to. Glavine and Maddux would get to pitch to an eight-foot wide strike zone. Michael Jordan shoved Bryon Russell to Park City for his iconic shot. Alex Ferguson’s United always got just enough injury time to score. It’s just the way it goes. Maybe they have just that little more extra leeway in a ref’s mind, something even the official can’t pick up themselves. But only the select few get there. G/O Media may get a commissionThere’s nothing about Brady that says the best, other than the record, which admittedly is an asinine statement. Never had the strongest arm, couldn’t move all that well. Maybe his brain is the best, but that’s hard to judge, really. And yet things keep falling his way, as most see it. But after this long and this many times, it’s not simply falling. There’s something there that we can’t label, can’t identify, and so all we’re left with is to fill the vacuum with various, tired arguments., whatever side you’re on. I’ll just leave it at something I’ll never know.  .

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A Painful Lesson for the Chiefs: It’s Hard to Repeat as Champions


If the Kansas City Chiefs needed a reminder of how difficult it is to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they needed only glance across the field at Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.Brady won a record seventh Super Bowl on Sunday night as the Buccaneers dominated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on their way to a 31-9 victory in Tampa, Fla.He has appeared in 10 of the last 20 Super Bowls. But he has won two in a row just once, in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Like the New England Patriots in the 2017 season and the Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 season, the 2020 Chiefs failed in their bid to win a second straight title.“I think what makes it such a challenge is it is hard to win one Super Bowl,” Brady told reporters last week. “You cannot go buy a football team. You have to develop players.”The Buccaneers, coached by Bruce Arians, had a lot of young talent, but their roster was largely constructed in the off-season when they signed Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette and others.The Chiefs, though, seemed destined to repeat. They finished the regular season with an N.F.L.-best 14-2 record and were favorites heading into the Super Bowl. Their offense looked unstoppable with quarterback Mahomes, last year’s Super Bowl most valuable player, playing well.But before the game, Mahomes acknowledged that parity in the N.F.L. made it difficult for teams to repeat as champions.“I mean, literally, you could be the worst team in the league one year and work all the way up to the Super Bowl the next,” he said.The salary cap, which limits how much money teams can spend on player contracts, is a big reason for that parity. That wasn’t the case decades ago. The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls in the 1960s, and the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled repeat wins in the 1970s. (The Steelers did it twice.)Quarterback Joe Montana led the San Francisco 49ers to consecutive titles in the 1980s, and the Dallas Cowboys were repeat champions in the early 1990s. But since the N.F.L. introduced a salary cap in 1994, only the Patriots and John Elway’s Denver Broncos have repeated.As is often the case in the N.F.L., injuries can derail teams in an instant. The Chiefs struggled on Sunday, in part, because they were missing their two starting offensive tackles, including Eric Fisher, one of the best tackles in the game, who missed the Super Bowl after tearing an Achilles’ tendon two weeks ago.Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive guard who has a medical degree, opted out of the 2020 season to work in his native Canada to help combat the coronavirus. Tackle Mitchell Schwartz played only the first six weeks of the season before injuring his back.The Chiefs also faced a last-minute coaching change. Their outside linebackers coach, Britt Reid — the son of the head coach, Andy Reid — missed Sunday’s game after being involved in a car crash in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday night.The Buccaneers took advantage. They sacked Mahomes three times and pressured him on 29 of his 56 drop backs, according to ESPN Stats & Info, the most in Super Bowl history. Mahomes spent most of the game scrambling from defenders behind the line of scrimmage. He threw two interceptions, no touchdowns, and needed 49 passes to accumulate just 270 yards, most of them late in the game.Retaining a roster that has made it to three consecutive A.F.C. championship games will be difficult. The Chiefs are almost $18 million over next year’s salary cap, according to Over the Cap, an independent site that tracks N.F.L. contracts and salaries. A number of key players are free agents, among them receivers Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson, center Austin Reiter and defensive backs Daniel Sorensen and Bashaud Breeland.The Chiefs will face another hurdle: The salary cap, which is based on the league’s total revenue, was about $198 million this season. It could fall to as low as $175 million next season because the league lost billions of dollars in ticket sales during the pandemic.For their part, the Buccaneers will have an estimated $28.9 million in cap space, which will give them room to re-sign players and attract free agents.The Chiefs will, however, retain Mahomes, a transcendent quarterback who signed a 10-year contract last summer worth up to $500 million. At only 25, he has many years ahead — barring injury — to match Brady, Elway, Montana, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Bob Griese and Bart Starr as quarterbacks who have won back-to-back Super Bowls.After the game, a downtrodden Mahomes acknowledged the difficulty of winning in the N.F.L. “When we joined together we knew it wasn’t going to always be successful and we weren’t going to be able to win a thousand championships in a row,” he said. “We knew we would go through times like this, through adversity.”

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A Key to Brady’s Super Bowl Success? Gronkowski of Course


In an amusing television commercial for T-Mobile that aired in the days before the Super Bowl, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski spoofed how they both ended up playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.The ad pretends to go back in time a year, with Brady calling Gronkowski for advice on whether to retire. Gronkowski recommends retirement, but because of a bad wireless connection, Brady hears the opposite — and also thinks that Gronkowski wants to return to football and play with him in Florida. So that is what happens.It was funny for everybody except the Kansas City Chiefs, who certainly were not laughing Sunday when Brady and Gronkowski seemed to turn back the clock not one year but a decade. Their honed, or cosmic, connection was the headlining collaboration that buried the Chiefs in the Buccaneers’ 31-9 victory in their home stadium.Afterward, even Gronkowski was awed by the turn of events in roughly 12 months.“It’s unreal, surreal, man,” he said. “It has to be one of the greatest accomplishments in sports history.”Brady threw two touchdowns to Gronkowski in the first half as the Buccaneers took a commanding 15-point lead at halftime. They were the 13th and 14th touchdowns for the duo in the postseason, an N.F.L. record.At the start of the third quarter, after Kansas City cut its deficit by three points, there was Gronkowski poking the defending Super Bowl champions in the eye again. He slyly slipped into the middle of the field uncovered so he could snag another Brady pass and rumble through defenders for a 25-yard gain that set up another Buccaneers touchdown, crushing the Chiefs’ hopes.In the end, it was another example of what Brady brought with him when he left the New England Patriots behind in March and surprised the pro football world by alighting in Tampa, where playoff success was an 18-year-old memory — a Super Bowl win after the 2002 season. Brady was brilliant and precise Sunday, completing 21 of 29 throws with three touchdown passes and winning the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player Award for a fifth time, and it is now that much clearer how he can lift an entire franchise with his determination, talent and consequential presence.But Brady can also apparently revive careers other than his own. At the end of the 2018 season when Gronkowski retired at age 29, he said: “Football was bringing me down, and I didn’t like it. I was losing that joy in life.”Roughly a month after Brady signed with the Buccaneers, Gronkowski helped engineer a trade from the Patriots to Tampa Bay. According to Buccaneers Coach Bruce Arians, Brady was adamant about wanting Gronkowski, his former tight end from New England, on his new team. Sunday, Gronkowski said he and Brady had several talks in that period.“So I came down to Tampa Bay and it’s just been an unbelievable story,” Gronkowski said.At first, their reunion was treated like an amusing sideshow, especially because the likeliness that Brady would succeed after relocating was treated with skepticism as well. The cynicism began to have a mocking tone when Tampa Bay won only three of its first five games and Gronkowski had just 12 catches for 140 yards. Even Brady looked subpar and confused by his new role.All that was irrelevant late Sunday evening after Brady led the Buccaneers on an unforeseen eight-game winning streak — four victories to end the regular season and four in the postseason. Along the way, there was Gronkowski, finishing the regular season with 45 catches for 623 yards receiving and seven touchdown catches.As the Buccaneers advanced through the playoffs, there had been talk that Brady, 43, had found the long rumored fountain of youth in Florida. Apparently, he let his favorite tight end have a few sips, too, because on Sunday Gronkowski, 31, looked like he was 22 again.A little more than four minutes into Sunday’s game, with Tampa Bay driving, Brady turned to his left and saw Gronkowski open in the flat. The pass hit its target in stride and Gronkowski, who is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, accelerated away from two defenders to dash into the end zone untouched. The 8-yard score put the Buccaneers ahead 7-3, a lead they never relinquished.About halfway through the second quarter, Gronkowski worked free near the back of the end zone and Brady fired a bullet, a rising pass that can be hard to corral in traffic. But Brady and Gronkowski have executed on that connection countless times in practices and games. With practiced ease, Gronkowski leapt and secured the catch for a 17-yard touchdown.Gronkowski said the play originally called for him to go to the right corner of the end zone but he darted left to find more open space. “Tom saw that and put the ball where I could go get it,” Gronkowski said. “Something like that goes back to the chemistry we’ve built over the years.”The Buccaneers have a wealth of top young wide receivers, but perhaps it was not surprising that in the final, most important game of the season, Brady looked for his old reliable friend most often, throwing in Gronkowski’s direction seven times. Six of those passes were caught as Gronkowski racked up a team-high 67 yards.On the sideline late in Sunday’s game, Brady and Gronkowski, teammates both old and anew, embraced repeatedly as the final seconds wound down.“We did it,” Gronkowski yelled.Brady smiled and slapped Gronkowski’s back as the two hugged yet again.It would have made a good scene for a television commercial.

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