Sport

Buccaneers played the “nobody picked us to win” game

Some like to pooh-pooh the potency of potential motivation for pro football players. Time and again, it’s proven to be a very real dynamic.

And it doesn’t have to be real. As Michael Jordan proved, embellished and/or fabricated motivation works, too.

For the Buccaneers, the motivation was more embellished than fabricated. Still, the post-game noise underscores the disconnect with the pre-game vibe.

“My guys were pissed off,” Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles told Peter King of NBCSports.com. “The biggest thing they do is read and they got TV all the time. Nobody picked us and gave us a chance to win. They were really pissed off about that.”

That’s just flat-out incorrect. Plenty of people picked the Buccaneers to win. (I’m one of them.) While the bulk of prognosticators leaned Kansas City, it was a fry cry from the slot-machine row of pre-game selections that all go one way. Plenty of people believed that Brady and the Bucs would find a way to win.

Of course, no one in their right mind expected a 22-point margin for Tampa Bay, and no touchdowns for the Chiefs.

“They played Drew Brees with [Michael] Thomas and [Alvin] Kamara,” Bowles said of his defense. “They played Aaron Rodgers with [Aaron] Jones and [Davante] Adams. Now they faced Mahomes with Kelce and Tyreek. You know, we earned it. We beat three of the best, the top five in the league.”

Linebacker Devin White echoed the sentiment.

“It was crazy to us that we were still underdogs,” White told King. “We defeated Drew Brees, we defeated Aaron Rodgers and then, like, he was the MVP and we still was underdogs. We were just out there like finish them, finish them, finish them. We didn’t want them to score.”

And they didn’t. The Chiefs managed only a trio of field goals. Thanks in part to the notion within the Tampa Bay organization that it was the Buccaneers Against The World.

Even if it wasn’t.