Andy Reid gifted the Buccaneers a touchdown just before halftime that put a comeback out of reach

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Andy Reid. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara
  • The Buccaneers scored a touchdown just six seconds before halftime to extend their Super Bowl lead.
  • The touchdown would not have happened without some risky timeouts taken by Andy Reid.
  • Reid is one of the best coaches in NFL history, but clock management has never been his strong suit.
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Super Bowl Sunday was not a good day for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Patrick Mahomes, the most electric player in the NFL, was held to the worst game of his career, as the Buccaneers stomped all over the reigning champions to win Super Bowl LV 31-9.

The Chiefs’ poor performance wasn’t the result of one single failure, but rather death by 1,000 cuts. But one cut that looms large is the touchdown that Kansas City head coach Andy Reid gifted to the Buccaneers just before halftime.

After struggling to move the ball for the entirety of the first half, the Chiefs put together a moderately successful drive in the closing minutes of the second quarter to kick their second field goal of the game. That cut the Buccaneers’ lead to 14-6 with 1:01 left before halftime.

With the Chiefs receiving the second half’s opening kickoff, they were within striking distance of making it a new ballgame with a few quality halftime adjustments.

As the Buccaneers took over possession with a minute remaining in the half, the game became a bit of a test of nerves between the two head coaches — Reid and Bruce Arians.

The Buccaneers could play the final minute aggressively, throwing downfield to get into field goal range and put up a few more points before the half. However, the risk was stopping the clock with incompletions and giving the same opportunity to Mahomes and the Chiefs.

For the Chiefs, Reid could use his timeouts to preserve the clock with hopes of getting another shot at possession before the half but risk giving the Buccaneers extra time should they be able to move the ball into scoring position.

On the drive’s first play, Brady handed the ball off to Leonard Fournette, who ran into the pile for no gain. At that point, 40 seconds could have ticked off the clock, leaving just one snap to go before halftime. But Reid instead opted to use the Chiefs’ first timeout, hoping to force a three-and-out and give Mahomes one more chance before the break.

The move backfired spectacularly.

On second down, Brady connected with Chris Godwin for an eight-yard gain, leaving the Buccaneers with third-and-two. Reid called a second timeout.

On third down, Brady found tight end Rob Gronkowski for the first down. The script had now been flipped.

The Buccaneers rushed to the line to conserve their last remaining timeout. Brady threw deep to Mike Evans, who got tripped up to draw a defensive pass interference penalty. Two plays later, Brady looked for Evans again in the end zone, drawing another flag for interference.

Brady found Antonio Brown on the next snap for a touchdown, extending the Buccaneers lead to 21-6 with just six seconds remaining in the half.

Making Reid’s decision to take the timeouts even more questionable is the fact that the Buccaneers had pulled off a similar trick in the NFC championship game, sneaking behind the Packers defence for a touchdown strike on one of the last plays of the first half.

Knowing how dangerous Brady and the Buccaneers offence could be in the closing seconds of the half, Reid could have gone into halftime down 14-6 and focused on getting the game-tying score on their opening drive of the second half. Instead, the Chiefs were aggressive and dug themselves into a deeper hole they were unable to escape.

It’s tough to fault Reid entirely for the sequence. If you want to win the Super Bowl, you have to trust your team to make plays, and in taking his timeouts, he was trusting his defence with hopes of giving his superstar quarterback an extra chance to get points on the board.

On Sunday, Reid’s big bet didn’t go his way.