The 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first wild card team to win the Super Bowl since the 2010 Green Bay Packers.
It’s been less than a week since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers unseated the Kansas City Chiefs as Super Bowl champions. And Tom Brady and company have enjoyed celebrating their 31-9 triumph on land and on sea. But it’s back to work for head coach Bruce Arians, general manager Jason Licht and the organization in general.
The Bucs were the first wild card team to not only reach but win the Super Bowl since the 2010 Green Bay Packers. In fact, the last five teams to take this path to the postseason – the aforementioned Buccaneers and Packers, along with the 2007 New York Giants, 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, and 2000 Baltimore Ravens – all brought home the Lombardi Trophy.
A dozen times, a non-divisional winner has arrived at the Super Bowl and eight times, won the game. That includes the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs, who captured Super Bowl IV prior to the 1970 merger and the official “wild card” formula. So of the eight champions, how did those clubs fare when it came to repeating as NFL title holders?
Not so well.
Let’s clear up the Chiefs first. Hank Stram’s club finished 7-5-2 and second in the newly-founded AFC West. The team missed the playoffs, which in those days was a field of eight clubs – four per conference. A year after the Silver and Black knocked off the Eagles at the Superdome in Super Bowl XV and technically were the first wild card team to win a Super Bowl, they slumped to 7-9 in ’81 and missed the playoffs.
The only team to build on their Super Bowl success from the wild card spot were the Denver Broncos. A year after finishing 12-4 and surprising the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, Mike Shanahan’s squad won their first 13 games, wound up 14-2 and eventually knocked off the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens, 2007 New York Giants and the 2010 Green Bay Packers prevailed in Super Bowls XXXV, XLII and XLV, respectively. All three teams saw their follow-up seasons end with a loss in the divisional playoffs. As for the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, the club slumped to 8-8 and third place in the AFC North in ’06 a year after becoming the first franchise to win three road playoff games and a Super Bowl.
It’s obviously far too early to try and figure out how Bruce Arians’ team will fare in 2021. And with Tom Brady as part of the franchise, it’s a team that certainly has a puncher’s chance of getting right back to the “Big Game.” And that would be pretty wild indeed.