Super Bowl LV: Buccaneers Take Home the Win, While The Weeknd Shines During Halftime


The NFL’s 2021 season ended with a bang on Sunday night as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended the night in a decisive 31-9 win. (Picture courtesy of Twitter)

The NFL’s 2021 season ended with a bang on Sunday night as the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida. In a surprisingly dominant fashion, the Buccaneers came out on top and took home the Lombardi trophy, scoring 31 points over the Chiefs’ nine. In doing so, the team became the first-ever to win a Super Bowl on their home turf, and Buccaneers’ quarterback, former Patriots standout Tom Brady, secured his seventh Super Bowl win.


Both the Buccaneers’ offense and defense lines dominated the entire game, leaving the Chiefs scrambling for points. The pairing of Brady and Rob Gronkowski, who came out of retirement to follow his former teammate to Tampa, proved to be powerful. The duo made history in the first quarter after Brady hit Gronkowski with an eight-yard touchdown, which broke the NFL’s playoff record for most passing touchdowns through a quarterback-pass catcher tandem. 


The Chiefs struggled to make it past the Buccaneers’ impenetrable defensive line and only scored three field goals over the course of the game. While the Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes refused to go down without a fight, he could not find a sufficient offensive tackle to receive the pass. He ended the game with 270 yards and two interceptions. Mahomes faced the first double-digit defeat of his NFL career tonight, but still put forth a valiant effort by playing with a toe injury.


Under normal circumstances, fans would have crowded the 65,618 seats inside Tampa’s Raymond James stadium. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the United States, precautions had to be taken. After careful consideration with the CDC, nearby Tampa hospitals and the Florida Department of Health, the NFL permitted 22,000 attendees to watch the game in-person. The NFL also gave out an additional 7,500 free tickets to vaccinated health care workers from Tampa and central Florida. They did this to show their gratitude for the workers’ bravery and resilience throughout the pandemic. In addition to that, the NFL provided each attendee with a personal protective equipment pack that included logoed masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes. 


To the casual viewer, the stands looked packed. Organizers created the illusion of a crowded stadium by using life-size cardboard cutouts from the “Fans in the Stand” program. Viewers could pay $100 for a life-size cutout of themselves and the profits went to local charities. The cutouts served as another tactic to maintain proper social distancing between fans scattered throughout the stands. 


While officials ensured safe conditions inside the stadium, the same could not be said for outside. Thousands of fans celebrated in the streets and packed sports bars immediately following the Buccaneers’ win, largely without masks. “It is a little frustrating because we have worked so hard,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said at a Monday morning news conference with the Super Bowl Host Committee. “At this point in dealing with COVID-19, there is a level of frustration when you see that.” 


Meanwhile, viewers at home looked forward to the Super Bowl’s collection of advertisements. Some ads were a home run, especially Will Ferrell’s enraged tirade against Norway for General Motors, “Edgar” Scissorhands (brought to life by Timothee Chalamet) with his self-driving Cadillac and popstar Drake’s brief stint as a Statefarm “stand-in” agent


Others, however, left viewers scratching their heads. Oatly, a popular oat milk brand, made headlines for its strange commercial that showed their CEO Toni Petersson crooning lyrics like “wow, no cow” in the middle of an empty field. Matthew McConaughey as a real-life Flat Stanley for Doritos and Jason Alexander’s transformation into a sweatshirt for Tide also made audiences uncomfortable.


Another highlight of the night was the Super Bowl’s halftime show, headlined by Canadian R&B superstar The Weeknd. He performed a live medley of his greatest hits, including “Starboy,” “The Hills,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” “I Feel It Coming,” “Save Your Tears,” “Earned It” and “House of Balloons.” The Weeknd closed out his show with his megahit single “Blinding Lights,” a song that spent a record-breaking 43 weeks in the Billboard Top Ten. He also broke away from the long-standing Super Bowl tradition of bringing in a surprise musical guest due to health protocols. However, the main complaint about the Weeknd’s performance was poor sound mixing, as audiences struggled to hear him at times. This likely came as a result of his entirely-live performance.


The Weeknd’s 14-minute performance consisted of a dizzying, bright spectacle throughout the Raymond James stands. Pre-show reports revealed that he paid seven million dollars out of his own pocket to help cover production costs. The NFL’s provided budget was not enough to recreate his vision, so he took matters into his own hands. The Weeknd had presumably planned out the night for a long time after teasing a storyline behind the performance for months. 


The Weeknd started out in front of an urban-esque backdrop with masked violinists hidden on platforms. After this, he sprinted into a tunnel straight out of a carnival funhouse in a confused, hyped fashion, leading to countless Twitter reactions and jokes through the end of the night. The show ended with The Weeknd jamming out on the field alongside socially-distanced dancers, all dressed in his signature red suit and eerie facial bandages. Fans theorized that the performance symbolized a story about the dangers of Hollywood fame. 


The Weeknd’s triumphant arrival to the Super Bowl follows his shocking snub from the Grammy Awards, which are scheduled to air on March 14. Despite the commercial and critical success of his most recent album “After Hours,” along with “Blinding Lights’” record-breaking run on the Billboard charts, the artist received no nominations for the 2021 awards show. Some theorize that the Super Bowl performance indirectly caused the snub. Rumor has it that The Weeknd denied holding a performance at the Grammy’s so he could instead prepare for the Super Bowl, thus booting him from the nominations. All reports about this remain unconfirmed. 


All in all, Super Bowl LV overcame the odds and went on as scheduled despite the pandemic. Now, fans have the wait until the fall for football action. Perhaps Brady will return to the Super Bowl next year in search of his eighth ring, after announcing that he’s still not done yet.