Donovan Smith, like so many who experience the thrill of becoming a Super Bowl champion, was at a loss for words amid the immediate celebration on the field Sunday night.
"The emotions, they don’t feel like they’ve set in yet," the starting left tackle for the Buccaneers said. "Surreal . . . I don’t think it’s hit me yet."
Just as — thanks to him and his four fellow blockers — Kansas City was not able to hit Tom Brady.
Smith, who grew up in Hempstead before moving to Maryland after his freshman year in high school, spent the year protecting Brady’s blind side, and in this 31-9 win, Brady was almost entirely untouched. He was sacked once and hit one other time.
"You go out there and do what you have to do and let him be back there and stand in the pocket and pick people apart," Smith said. "That’s what makes him the G.O.A.T. I’m just out there to protect my man."
There was a time during the season when that wasn’t always happening. Smith was struggling. In the past few months, however, he and the entire offensive line were able to improve.
"Understanding what we needed to get done," he said of the key to their strides. "Five guys on the same page and making sure we listen to Tom and whatever he wants to do and just going out there and balling."
Smith said he is proud of winning Super Bowl LV, a goal he knew was reachable in the spring when the Bucs acquired Brady.
"We made history out there," he said of Sunday’s game. "We knew what we had to do, go out there and do what we were playing for back in July . . . Couldn’t ask for a better ending."