The Bucs beat the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 at Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs’ home turf. And while the NFL’s neutral-site rules kept the pirate ship cannons quiet during the game, they'll have plenty of reason to fire in the coming days.
Since the dawn of the Super Bowl era in 1967, no team has played a Super Bowl in its home stadium. And while the stadium won’t be full – capacity will be capped at 22,000 fans due to the COVID pandemic – many of the those in the stands were local health care workers, loudly cheering their home team.
Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Just reaching the game was not enough for the Bucs – they made it clear that they planned to make history as the first team to win the Super Bowl in their own house.
"So many teams don't get a chance because they don't get the Super Bowl in their home stadium. It was obviously a goal of ours to start this season," head coach Bruce Arians said after the NFC Championship. "But getting to the Super Bowl wasn't what our goal is. Our goal is to win it."
"This has been an amazing year," quarterback Tom Brady said after the game. "We got off to a good start – 7-2 – and then had a little rough stretch where we found our identity. Played a lot better football in December and January. Just really proud of all the guys. Proud of all the coaches and the effort we put in. We knew we were playing a great football team tonight and we got the job done. You want to get this far, you’ve got to get the job done and we did it."
Here’s a look at the NFL teams that made the playoffs the season their home stadiums hosted the Super Bowl but came up short:
— Minnesota, 2017
Coming off the "Minnesota Miracle" at home against New Orleans — Stefon Diggs hauled in a 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum on the final play — the Vikings traveled to Philadelphia for the NFC title game and got shellacked 38-7. Eagles backup Nick Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, a sign of things to come in the Super Bowl against New England.
— Houston, 2016
The Texans won the AFC South and were the No. 4 seed heading into the AFC playoffs. They beat Oakland in a wild-card game but lost 34-16 the following week on the road to Brady and New England. It was quarterback Brock Osweiler’s final start for Houston. Brady went on to win his fifth of six championships, this one in come-from-behind fashion after trailing Atlanta 28-3 late in the third quarter.
— Miami, 1998
The Dolphins were the No. 4 seed in the AFC and beat division rival Buffalo at home to open the playoffs. They barely showed up the following week in Denver, getting smoked 38-3 by a team that featured four future Hall of Famers: quarterback John Elway, running back Terrell Davis, tight end Shannon Sharpe and safety Steve Atwater. Another Hall of Famer, Dan Marino, threw a pair of interceptions. Elway and the Broncos went on to claim their second straight championship.
— Miami, 1994
The Dolphins were the No. 3 seed four years earlier with the Super Bowl set to be played at Joe Robbie Stadium. They beat Kansas City to open the playoffs and traveled cross-country to face San Diego in the divisional round. Miami led 21-6 after Marino’s third TD pass of the day just before halftime. But it was all Chargers from there. They scored 16 unanswered points in the second half, including the go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds remaining. Pete Stoyanovich missed wide right from 48 yards out on Miami’s final play. San Diego went on to beat Pittsburgh in the AFC title game before losing to juggernaut San Francisco in the Super Bowl in Miami.
— Miami, 1978
The Dolphins lost to Houston at home in a wild-card game, ending any chance they had of returning to the Orange Bowl for the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh beat Dallas for its third Vince Lombardi Trophy in five years.
— Miami, 1970
The wild-card Dolphins lost at Oakland 21-14 in the opening round of the AFC playoffs and ended up watching Baltimore beat Dallas in Super Bowl 5 at the famed Orange Bowl in Miami.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.