Chiefs lose composure and see red amid a sea of yellow

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Kansas City Chiefs' Tyrann Mathieu (32) talks with back judge Dino Paganelli (105) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Offsides. Unnecessary roughness. Unsportsmanlike conduct. Pass interference. And holding. Lots of holding.

All those penalties were too much even for Patrick Mahomes to overcome: Good as Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were Sunday -- worthy champions, certainly -- the Kansas City Chiefs put on a textbook display of how not to perform in a Super Bowl.

By halftime, the defending champs had amassed more penalties (8) than points (6) — and more frustration than hope. It was an undisciplined, uncharacteristic and somewhat unbelievable loss of composure that set the stage for a 31-9 drubbing at the hands of the Bucs that very few saw coming.

Kansas City's 95 penalty yards in the first half were the most by any team in the first half of any of the 269 regular-season and playoff games this season. They were one more yard than Kansas City had racked up in any single game all year. The Chiefs only committed three penalties in the second half to finish the game with 11 for 120 yards. It hardly counted as progress.

“It was uncharacteristic, and it was too bad it happened today,” coach Andy Reid said.

The team that ran like a classy, unstoppable machine through one championship season, and over 16 more wins en route to their second straight title game, imploded on itself. The Chiefs got too handsy in a vain attempt to cover Tampa Bay's receivers, too jumpy on the line of scrimmage, too chippy when things didn't go their way.

Each one of the eight first-half penalties hurt in its own way, none more than the two pass interference calls over the span of three plays that led to a touchdown and a 21-6 Bucs lead right before halftime. The drive started at the Tampa 29 with 1:01 left. Reid burned two timeouts, after two short Bucs gains, thinking the Chiefs might get the ball back.

They didn't.