DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
"We was just attacking all day. We knew we had a favorable matchup at pass-rusher and all positions and we took advantage. Guys on the back end did a great job of holding up and giving us time to get to the quarterback. We just had tremendous pressure all game."
—Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Shaquil Barrett and his teammates along the defensive line took advantage of the Kansas City Chiefs' injuries along the offensive line, racking up a Super Bowl-record 29 pressures against Patrick Mahomes on 56 dropbacks. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Mahomes scrambled a baffling 497 yards in the backfield throughout the course of the game. (NFL Network via Twitter)
"If you watch the game, you'll see that all the talk, all the outside noise, everything the media was saying, all week—never paid attention to it. We knew who we were. We knew that we some gravediggers and we dig graves. And tonight, that's what happened."
—Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis helped to coin the "Gravediggers" nickname for the Bucs secondary during their Super Bowl run and was able to bring it full circle this past Sunday. (ProFootballTalk)
THE WEEK IN GRONK
"I remember after that win [in Super Bowl LIII], I was so done coming off of the field. I was like, 'I'm just glad it's over.' Just the pain I was in. It was great to be champ, but it just felt great to be done."
"Take the year off, go through that journey, heal up, get my mind right and just see the options out there, see everything play out and come down here to Tampa Bay, come out of retirement. I retired from being retired, which is pretty cool."
—Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski discusses the pain he was in following the conclusion of the New England Patriots' Super Bowl LIII victory over the Los Angeles Rams and his decision to come back after a year of being retired. (NESN)
"Yeah, I'll remain unretired. I'm a free agent. It's the first time in my career that I'm a free agent. I signed basically like an eight-year contract and basically played it all out—signed that when I was 22 years old. And it's just pretty incredible to play out a contract like that—with a retirement in between. That's surreal. But I definitely see myself coming back, just the guys around here, the players around here, the coaches, the people in the front office, they're all just great people. I loved working with them all year long.
"So, obviously going to soak this in and see where I'm at in a couple weeks, but I don't see why not. I don't see why I won't be back."
—Gronk, at age 31, will hit free agency for the first time in his career this offseason. While the idea of it excites him, it seems to be likely he's staying put. (ProFootballTalk)
"Alright, you gotta go. You gotta turn up, dawg. Yo, he's gotta turn up!"
—Gronk can be heard in the background of wide receiver Mike Evans' postgame press conference telling Evans to exit and go party. Evans responded by telling the NFL Network team he "ain't never did this" and that Gronk already knows the procedures from past Super Bowl experiences. (NFL Network via Twitter)
"It's actually at an aquarium, our afterparty. So there's gonna be fishes. Hopefully there's some sharks, some whales. I'll go swimming with them. Why not? I'm a tank! I belong in that fish! I belong in that fish tank! 'Cause I'm a tank!"
—In his own postgame press conference, Gronk dropped a gem of a quote as he dreamed of swimming with sharks at the Super Bowl afterparty. (NFL via Tik Tok)
BELIEVING IS HALF THE BATTLE
"We WILL win."
—Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette said that every night in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, quarterback Tom Brady would send everyone this text. (Jenna Laine, ESPN via Twitter)
GETTING THE LAST LAUGH
"The taunting, it was something I just had to do. When we played them earlier, [Tyreek] Hill went off on us. He backflipped in front of my face and gave me the peace sign. So it was only right that I gave him the peace sign right back to him at this moment. It felt amazing to be able to do that. I'm not even gonna lie."
—Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. drew a taunting penalty after throwing up a peace sign in Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill's face, but the flag was well worth it in the rookie's eyes. Weaponizing the wide receiver's signature celebration against him was Winfield Jr.'s way of getting back at Hill for backflipping into the end zone during the teams' previous meeting in Week 12. (NFL.com)
"Obviously I didn't play the way I wanted to play, but what else can you say? All you can do is leave everything you have on the field, and I feel like the guys did that. They were the better team today, they beat us pretty good, the worst that I think I've been beaten in a long time, but I'm proud of the guys and how they fought until the very end of the game."
—Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes reflects on the Super Bowl loss during his postgame press conference. The 31-9 drubbing was Mahomes' first loss by more than one score since entering the NFL. (Pete Francis, KSNT News via Twitter)
"My dad lost the World Series in his career. He continued to battle and continued to be who he was. Obviously it hurts right now. It hurts a lot. But we're going to continue to get better. We have a young group of guys that have had a lot of success and have learned from that. We've had a few failures, and we have to learn from that. We can't let this define us. We have to continue to get better, going into next year and being even better and preparing ourselves to hopefully be in this game again."
—Mahomes on moving past a loss like this on a stage as large as the Super Bowl. (CBS Sports)
ALL IS NOT LOST IN KANSAS CITY
"With the guys that are injured that are potentially coming back, or opted out or potentially coming back, we'll kind of get all that covered here in the next couple of days, I don't think the outlook is bleak by any means."
—Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is optimistic about the future of his team, refusing to be negative about how Kansas City finished their season. (ProFootballTalk)
GONE IN A PUFF OF SMOKE
"How did he … yo. Ay, yo, yo, yo. Yo, he is a magician. I'm convinced. Who? No. 15! The one that just be spinning out of nowhere just—throw the ball backwards with a left hand."
—Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin could not believe the escape acts Mahomes was performing to elude the Tampa Bay pass rush. (NFL Films via Twitter)
THE COOK WANTS MORE
"I love playing for the (Seahawks), I've loved it for years and lay it on the line every game and I'm dedicated to that. Trying to do that every day I can. The reality is that I think it's frustrating being there and watching the game and sitting there. Part of it, like any player, you never want to get hit, that's the reality of playing this position, ask any quarterback who wants to play this game. At the same time, it's part of the job.
"I've definitely been hit—I've been sacked almost 400 times. We got to get better. I got to find ways to get better, too. Just continue to try and find that. As we continue to go along the process and I think about my career and what I want to be able to do, it always starts up front, offensively and defensively. It always does. I'm grateful for the time I've been able to put in every day to the process. I love this game. I came to play this game to win championships."
—Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson spoke openly about his thoughts for the future and his hope for some added protection as he enters the back half of his career. (Michael-Shawn Dugar, The Athletic via Twitter)
"I want to be involved. At the end of the day, it's your legacy, your team's legacy... It helps to be involved more. That dialogue should happen more often."
—Wilson also mentioned during an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show that he would like some say in the Seahawks' decision-making going forward, citing Tom Brady and the Buccaneers' acquisitions of Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Antonio Brown as an example of such a role. (Andrew Perloff, Dan Patrick Show via Twitter)
'IMMA LET YOU FINISH, AARON…'
"Aaron Donald is an absolutely incredible player. I love watching him play & he's headed to the Hall of Fame without question. This has nothing to do with AD personally. This is me saying what my brother won't. TJ played 1 less game and STILL led the NFL in every major category."
—Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt took to Twitter to defend his brother, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end T.J. Watt, who lost the Defensive Player of the Year award to Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. This is Donald's third time winning the award in eight seasons.
"[I know] people not really questioning if AD should have one DPOY [crying laughing emojis] Yoo that's insane. [There's] some ELITE defensive players in this league for sure & if 99 wasn't in the league, I would hear it, but he really the greatest. Keep on tho, y'all about to get y'all O-line hurt [for real]"
—Without a sibling in the league to defend Donald, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsay went to bat, calling Aaron Donald "the greatest" in the process. (ESPN via Twitter)
THIS WEEK IN SOCIAL MEDIA
THIS MOST IMPORTANT THROW OF TOM BRADY'S CAREER
— Whitney Holtzman (@WHoltzman) February 10, 2021
—During the Buccaneers aquatic Super Bowl parade, Tom Brady makes the throw of the lifetime transferring the Lombardi Trophy across boats. The waters below said boats were an estimated 80 feet deep.
SOUNDTRACK TO THE SUPER BOWL
Tom Brady's IG story is GOLD. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/FWW0AX5nf8
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) February 9, 2021
—Brady curated some very specific tracks while congratulating his teammates on their Super Bowl contributions.
DON'T SHOOT THE SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
pls + thx 🙂 pic.twitter.com/AU16OroQIF
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) February 7, 2021
—The Los Angeles Chargers Twitter account had their legal team write this one up after quarterback Justin Herbert was named Offensive Rookie of the Year over Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson.