A 10th trip to the Super Bowl puts Tom Brady in some exclusive company across sports.
Brady’s 10th trip to the title round comes a few months after LeBron James did the same in the NBA Finals, making them the only players in the four major North American sports leagues to do that in more than 30 years.
Brady and James are the first players to make it to the title round for a 10th time since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in his final season in the NBA in 1989.
In all, 24 players have done that in any of the leagues, according to research from SportRadar, with most of them having been part of dynasties with the Boston Celtics, New York Yankees or Montreal Canadiens.
Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra has the most championship round appearances getting there 14 times in his 18 seasons with the Yankees.
Berra’s former teammate, Mickey Mantle, Celtics legend Bill Russell, and hockey stars Jean Beliveau, Red Kelly, Henri Richard and Maurice Richard are next with 12 apiece.
They are followed by Sam Jones (NBA), Whitey Ford (MLB), Doug Harvey (NHL), Bert Olmstead (NHL) and Jean-Guy Talbot (NHL).
The three others baseball players to go to the World Series are Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Elston Howard.
Six other hockey players did it in the Stanley Cup Final: Bernie Geoffrion, Gordie Howe, Tom Johnson, Dickie Moore, Jacques Plante and Claude Provost.
A win on Sunday would be Brady’s seventh championship to go along with his three regular season MVP awards, a feat only Russell, Mantle, Berra, and DiMaggio have achieved in the four major sports leagues.
The Buccaneers are just the latest team from Tampa to make it to the title game, following the NHL’s Lightning and baseball’s Rays, who made it last fall.
When the Super Bowl kicks off, it will be 133 days since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. The World Series was played in between the two. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the second shortest span for a metro area to appear in three championships in the four major North American team sports leagues. In 2003, the Devils, Nets and Yankees all made it to the title round in a span one day shorter than Tampa’s.
Defenses have had a hard time slowing down Kansas City’s dynamic duo of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce this postseason. Hill has 17 catches for 282 yards, while Kelce has 21 catches for 227 yards.
Both have topped 100 yards receiving in the first two playoff games and can be the first set of teammates to do that three games in a row in a single postseason.
Kelce and Hill can be the third set of teammates each to top 300 yards receiving in a single postseason, joining Carolina’s Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad (2003) and New England’s Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan (2016).
SLOW STARTS, STRONG FINISHES
Brady has taken time to get started in his first nine trips to the Super Bowl. Brady has been the quarterback for 17 drives in the Super Bowl that that started and ended in the first quarter and has scored on only one of those possessions, a field goal against Philadelphia in Super Bowl 52.
The fourth quarter has been a completely different story for Brady in those games. He led game-winning field goal drives in his first two trips to the title game and has been even better late in the game in his last four trips. Brady is 47 for 63 for 538 yards, four TDs, no interceptions and a 121 rating in the fourth quarter and overtime of those games.
When the game is on the line, the Tampa Bay pass rush is usually at its best. Jason Pierre-Paul leads the NFL with seven sacks in the fourth quarter for regular season and playoff games, with teammates Shaquil Barrett and Devin White tied for the second most with five apiece.
Overall the Bucs have 27 sacks in the fourth quarter, the most for any team in the past 30 seasons.
Bucs running back Leonard Fournette has been on an impressive playoff run. He has gained an NFL-best 313 yards from scrimmage with TDs in each playoff game so far this postseason. With a TD in the Super Bowl, Fournette will join Terrell Davis (1997 season) and Larry Fitzgerald (2008) as the only players to score in four playoff games in a single postseason.
Fournette has seven TDs in six career playoff games and his streak of five straight with at least 50 yards rushing and a TD is tied for the third longest in history.
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