Super Bowl LV: An iconic quarterback matchup highlights unusual circumstances

Super Bowl
Image Credit: Charlie Riedel/AP Photo
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates with teammates after the AFC championship NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 38-24.

Once per year on a Sunday in February, Americans gather around the television to witness two of the top NFL teams clash in arguably the most iconic sporting event in our nation’s history: The Super Bowl.

Things look a little bit different this year with the pandemic looming over our heads. Fewer people are hosting or visiting their loved ones to watch due to the threat of community spread. Likewise, the stands of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL won’t be packed as densely as they would be under normal conditions, though vaccinated health care professionals will be in attendance.

Despite the unusual circumstances, this might be the most important Super Bowl matchup in modern football history. It’s not often that two star quarterbacks of this caliber face off on the greatest stage that American sports have to offer.

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THE QUARTERBACK BATTLE:

Considered the GOAT (Greatest Of All-Time) by many, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady stunned the sports world by leaving the New England Patriots in search of a new opportunity last offseason.

At 43-years-old, the six-time Super Bowl champ threw for 40 touchdowns in his first year outside of Foxborough, MA. That’s the second-highest mark of his career. He did so by throwing for 4,633 yards and completing 65.7% of his passing attempts in the process.

After arguably the worst season of his Hall of Fame career in 2019, Brady shook off the rust and now returns for a chance at his seventh championship ring. Even with that being the case, the final matchup of his 21st season is an unforgiving one.

There’s never been a player who dictates the course of a game like Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes does.

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A 25-year-old in only his third season as a starter, Mahomes is one of the most dominant players in sports today. With the play recognition of a seasoned veteran and a cannon-like throwing arm, Mahomes is a perennial MVP candidate. Furthermore, Mahomes is widely expected to finish as one of the greatest football players of all-time.

Even after winning the MVP trophy in his first full season and the Super Bowl MVP in his second, Mahomes still managed to get better over the course of this year. He posted the highest Quarterback Rating (QBR) — A statistic that quantifies the quality of a quarterback’s decision-making — of his career at 82.9. He threw for 4,740 passing yards on a career-best 66.3% completion rate on a 38-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio.

There’s a lot more to football than quarterback play. It’s a team sport oftentimes dictated by defensive playcalling, injuries, roster construction and coaching. Football fans still can’t help but keep their eyes locked on Brady vs. Mahomes; The most important quarterback battle in recent history.

Super Bowl LV is set to begin at 3:30 p.m. PST on Sunday, February 7.

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