The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 31-9 defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV wasn't all that exciting or dramatic, but it certainly was eye-opening.
It's just one game, but it's the biggest game, which means there are always some interesting talking points about what it took (and might take) to win it all.
Here are five Raven-ized takeaways from Super Bowl LV:
1 - Pressure does still matter
A couple of weeks ago, General Manager Eric DeCosta answered an interesting question about whether edge rushers have been devalued by so many offenses getting the ball out quickly. DeCosta said the team has studied that notion. The Ravens' pass rush was negated in some games because they played quarterbacks that get rid of the ball fast, led by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger.
But if watching Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes run for his life Sunday in Tampa was any indicator, a fearsome pass rush can still be devastating. Mahomes was pressured a whopping 29 times – the most in Super Bowl history. A huge factor was that the Chiefs were forced to shuffle their offensive line without starting left tackle Eric Fisher. Mahomes was also reportedly dealing with a sore foot, which limited his mobility.
Regardless, it showed that Mahomes isn't invincible to pressure. While some quarterbacks get the ball out fast, Mahomes and Bills quarterback Josh Allen are willing to hold it to make big plays. Considering they are two young signal-callers the Ravens will have to get through to reach the Super Bowl, it shows the importance of having dynamic rushers who can win having to constantly blitz. The Ravens don't have the kind of pass-rushing personnel as the Bucs currently, and it could be even harder to replicate with Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue both being pending unrestricted free agents. It would be a tough blow for the pass rush to lose both.
2 - Blocking pressure matters
On the flip side, the Chiefs' inability to block the Buccaneers' pass rush was the difference in the game. The value of offensive tackles across the league may have gone up after Sunday's game, and it also highlights the importance of depth.
The Ravens have their franchise left tackle in Ronnie Stanley, and they need him to return to being the dominant player he was before suffering his season-ending ankle injury. But right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has publicly stated he wants to play on the left side moving forward, which has raised an issue considering Stanley signed a five-year extension last season.
Baltimore has one of the best tackle duos in the league, but how long will they remain together? Beyond the tackles, the Super Bowl showed the importance of a strong offensive line overall. Bucs center Ryan Jensen looked sturdy in the middle protecting Tom Brady against Chiefs game-wrecker Chris Jones. Jensen left Baltimore for a big payday in Tampa Bay in 2018. Since then, Baltimore has used three different starting centers who have all been undrafted.
3 - The Chiefs offense isn't unstoppable
After a blowout defeat in Week 3 (a third-straight loss to Kansas City), Lamar Jackson called the Chiefs the Ravens' "kryptonite." The Buccaneers also got smoked by the Chiefs' potent offense earlier this year, but they made adjustments and shut them down in the Super Bowl rematch, showing that the Chiefs offense isn't unstoppable.
Against the Buccaneers on Nov. 29, Mahomes threw for 462 yards and three touchdowns, all to Hill, who had 13 catches for 269 yards. But Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles made the adjustments and put together a fantastic game-plan that Mahomes and Hill applauded after the Super Bowl.
According to Next Gen Stats, the Bucs played with two-high safeties 87 percent of the time, which cut down on the deep ball. They blitzed on less than 10 percent of the snaps, and still generated pressure 34 percent of the time they only rushed four. The Bucs also switched from a lot of man-to-man coverage to more Cover-2 and Cover-4 zone, which helped take away the sidelines. All three tendencies were out of the norm for a Bowles-led defense.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the season that he and Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale talked a lot as the season went on about how they would approach the Chiefs differently in a rematch, which unfortunately never materialized. It would have been fun to see how Martindale would have switched things up on the Chiefs.
"We made a lot of changes to our defense after that game," Harbaugh said. "That was a good learning experience for us, as coaches, and throughout the course of the season, we expanded and added some things that took those plays away, because other teams were copying them, because they had success with them. In the offseason, we're going to look at those. We've already had the conversation, 'Wink' and I, about … We already know what we need to add and how we're going to build it into our defense to just be as diverse as we can to answer."
4 - A balanced offense did the trick for Tampa Bay
The Bucs have one of the most talented wide receiver corps in the NFL with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, but it was their balance that kept Kansas City's defense on its heels all night. The Bucs' big three wide receivers combined for eight catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II teamed up for 150 yards rushing. The Bucs ran it 33 times to 29 passes. Part of that was game script, as the Bucs took a huge lead in the third quarter and ran the ball more to milk the clock. But even then, the Chiefs weren't stopping it.
It's a lesson that it doesn't take 40 passing attempts and huge production from a "No. 1" wide receiver to put up points – even in the biggest games. The Bucs ran the ball well, set up manageable third-down situations and capitalized (besides one goal-line stand by the Chiefs) in the red zone. Tom Brady did what the G.O.A.T. has always done best, and that's make good decisions and play highly efficient football (21-of-29 for 201 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions). That's the kind of balance and efficiency the Ravens are striving for and can win with, even with a run-heavy attack.
5 - A diverse staff is a good thing
The Buccaneers became the first team to ever reach the Super Bowl with all three coordinators being Black. They also have two full-time female coaches, including former Ravens intern Lori Locust. Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians helped foster a diverse and inclusive environment with his hiring.
The Ravens were already rewarded this year (with two third-round compensatory picks) for helping to develop minority coaching candidates when David Culley was hired as the head coach of the Houston Texans. While Baltimore has lost a number of assistants to other teams this offseason, Head Coach John Harbaugh has filled seven vacancies with six Black coaches.