Super Bowl to push through despite Covid pandemic in US

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The Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the final two teams standing after an unprecedented NFL season. The AFC and NFC champions face off in Super Bowl LV on Monday (Manila time) in Tampa, Florida.

The matchup ends a peculiar NFL season, which started as scheduled and completed all 256 regular season games and a dozen postseason games, despite 262 players and 463 other personnel testing positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) from from Aug. 1 through Saturday.

Fans have been rewarded with a blockbuster quarterback matchup. Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes have stolen most of the headlines in the week before Super Bowl LV.

Brady, the Buccaneers quarterback, is attempting to win his seventh Super Bowl. The Buccaneers also are the first team in league history to compete in a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

Mahomes, the Chiefs’ quarterback, will attempt to win his second consecutive Super Bowl. He has had one of the most remarkable starts in NFL history, with an MVP award and two Super Bowl appearances in his first three seasons as a full-time starter.

The Mahomes-Brady battle marks the first time that the winning quarterbacks from the previous two Super Bowls have faced each other in the next Super Bowl.

The Chiefs and Buccaneers have excellent chemistry, an array of acrobatic offensive playmakers and opportunistic defenses.

“It would be amazing to have an opportunity to hoist that trophy and be a champion in really the ultimate team sport,” Buccaneers defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh told reporters Wednesday during a Zoom conference.

“It’s always one of my goals. First getting into this league was very important to me. … I look forward to the opportunity of closing it out. I’ve been very blessed to be able to have an individual career that has many accolades, but the ultimate goal is to have the team accolade, and that’s the Vince Lombardi trophy,” he said.

OUT TO END 12-YEAR DROUGHT

The Buccaneers were on a 12-year playoff drought and had three consecutive seasons with a losing record before the 2020 season. The Chiefs had been perennial contenders, had one of the best rosters in the league and were betting favorites to repeat as champions.

Tampa Bay’s outlook became much more optimistic in March, when Brady signed with the Buccaneers out of free agency.

The Buccaneers posted an 11-5 record, and Brady, 43, threw more touchdown passes (40) than he had in a single season since the 50 he tossed as the 30-year-old New England Patriots quarterback.

Tampa Bay went 3-2 through the first five weeks of the season. The Buccaneers were 7-5 before their Week 13 bye and in danger of not making the playoffs. They have since gone on a seven-game winning streak and are the hottest team in the league.

The Buccaneers entered the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the NFC. They advanced to the Super Bowl with victories over the Washington Football Team, Los Angels Rams and Green Bay Packers.

The Chiefs roared out of the gate with four-consecutive wins to start the season. They lost to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5 and the went on a 10-game winning streak.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid opted to sit most of the team’s best players in a regular season-ending loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs – the top seed in the AFC – had a first-round bye and then beat the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills to reach the Super Bowl.

Mahomes produced another Pro Bowl campaign, with 4,740 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 starts. The Chiefs’ quarterback – and his arsenal of pass-catching weapons – are among the toughest challenges in the league for opposing defenses.

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