“Playoff Lenny” showed up in the biggest game of his NFL career Sunday night.
And so did Devin White.
Former LSU running back Leonard Fournette, placed on waivers by Aug. 31 by Jacksonville, finished off an unstoppable playoff run of tremendous performances as he accounted for 135 yards and one TD in Tampa Bay’s dominating 31-9 Super Bowl 55 victory over defending champion Kansas City on Sunday night in Tampa.
Paired with starting linebacker White’s team-high 12 tackles for a relentless Bucs defense and backup Tampa Bay linebacker Kevin Minter, the trio of former Tigers won their first Super Bowl rings ever.
Fournette finished with 89 yards rushing including a 27-yard TD on 16 carries and caught four passes (four targets) for 46 yards. He picked up seven first downs.
In four playoff games, Fournette had 300 yards and 3 TDs on 64 carries, 18 catches (21 targets) for 148 yards and 1 TD.
While Fournette looked like he stepped into a time machine and went back to his LSU days from 2014-16 when he trucked defender after defender, White showed again why he was an All-Pro selection this past season.
He had 8 solo tackles among his dozen stops, including two for losses and a game-clinching interception that closed the door on holding the high-powered Chiefs without a touchdown.
Though he missed Tampa Bay’s first playoff game while still in COVID-10 protocol, White still finished the playoffs with 38 tackles in three games (27 solo), 3 TFL, 0 sacks, 0 QB hits, 2 interceptions, 1 PBU, 0 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries.
It was a tough night for former LSU stars safety Tyrann Mathieu and running backs Darrel Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire as they tried to rally the favored Chiefs.
Mathieu and Williams were attempting to join a select group of LSU players to win at least two Super Bowls.
Mathieu had four tackles (three solo) but was whistled for defensive pass interference that set up the Bucs’ TD in the closing seconds of the first half for a 21-3 lead.
Kansas City basically ignored its running game in the first half and Edwards-Helaire and Williams did their best to rally the Chiefs in the second half.
Edwards-Helaire ran for 64 yards on nine carries and caught two passes (three targets) for 23 yards. Williams had 5 rushing yards on two carries and caught two passes (seven targets) for 10 yards.
But make no mistake about it. Fournette played the best game of his four-year NFL career that started as the No. 4 overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Jaguars.
In his rookie season, Fournette stayed healthy for the most part and got the Jaguars to the AFC championship game where it lost to the Patriots.
Then in 2018, he hurt his hamstring and struggled to stay healthy all season. He reported lighter and in the best shape of his career in 2019 and had his second 1,000-yard rushing season in his first three years.
The Jags tried to trade Fournette last summer, found no takers and put him on waivers. Tampa Bay claimed him, found him a spot in the running back rotation and down the stretch Fournette lived up to his nickname “Playoff Lenny.”
Here’s what he did Sunday:
Scoring possession 1 (8 plays, 75 yards): Fournette had 4 carries for 27 yards, including picking up two first downs, on the TD drive that gave the Bucs a 7-3 lead with 37 seconds left in the first quarter
Scoring possession 2 (6 plays, 37 yards): Bucs quarterback Tom Brady had a 3rd and 4 pass at the Chiefs 32 intended for Mike Evans tipped, Fournette tried to catch the deflection and tipped it to Mathieu who made a diving interception. But the play was nullified by a Chiefs defensive holding call.
With new life on first-and-10 at the KC 27, Fournette ran for a yard on first down and caught a Brady pass for 4 yards on the next snap. Two plays later, the Chiefs jumped offsides during a Tampa Bay field goal.
That set up Brady’s 17-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 14-3 lead with 6:05 before half time.
Scoring possession 3 (5 plays, 71 yards): Fournette ran for no gain to start the drive at Tampa Bay 29 with 55 seconds left. Three plays later from the Chiefs 24 with 18 seconds left, he caught a short pass from Brady and turned into a 15-yard gain for a first down at Chiefs 9 with 13 seconds remaining before halftime.
Two plays later after a Mathieu defensive pass interference penalty put the ball at the Chiefs 1, Brady threw a 1-yard TD to a diving Antonio Brown who shook Mathieu for a 21-3 lead with six seconds left in the first half.
Scoring possession 4 (6 plays, 74 yards): Fournette accounted for 46 yards. He started the drive at the Tampa Bay 26 with a 3-yard run, caught a 12-yard pass from Brady to convert a 3-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 32 to the Tampa 32, ran for 4 yards on the next play and then two plays later ran for a 27-yard TD to boost the Bucs lead to 28-9 with 7:51 left in the third quarter.
Scoring possession 5 (8 plays, 11 yards): Fournette opened the drive at the Chiefs 45 with a 15-yard pass reception to the Chiefs 30, followed that with a 6-yard run and went to the bench for a breather. Tampa Bay eventually settled for a 52-yard Ryan Succop field goal and a 31-9 lead with 2:50 left in the third period.
LSU SUPER BOWL RECORDS BROKEN OR TIED
Most LSU players, both teams combined, game: 6, Super Bowl 55 (Leonard Fournette, Devin White and Kevin Minter for Tampa Bay Bucs, Tyrann Mathieu, Darrel Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire for Kansas City Chiefs)
Most LSU players starting, both teams combined, game: 4, SB 55 ((Leonard Fournette and Devin White for Tampa Bay Bucs, Tyrann Mathieu and Clyde Edwards-Helaire for Kansas City Chiefs
Most yards rushing, game: 89 yards by Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Bucs SB 55
Most rushing TDs, game and career: 1 by Jimmy Taylor, Green Bay Packers SB 1, Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts SB 44 and Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Bucs SB 55
Most tackles, game: 12 by Devin White, Tampa Bay Bucs SB 55
Most tackles for loss, game and career: 2 by Devin White, Tampa Bay Bucs SB 55
Most interceptions in game and career: 1 by Johnny Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs SB 4, AJ Duhe, Miami Dolphins SB 17 and Devin White., Tampa Bay Bucs SB 55