Wow, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs are really good NFL teams. What a surprise that well-run organizations can overcome injuries and a hard salary cap to make an entertaining Sunday Night Football game.
However, here’s some free advice to all future Kansas City Chiefs opponents. Don’t fumble the opening kickoff.
It gives arguably the best quarterback to ever sling some pigskin — Patrick Mahomes — an extra possession. After the fumble, not only do the Chiefs get the ball deep in opposing territory, but now they get to begin both halves on offense.
After all of the yelling, missed field goals, and an interception on the game’s final drive in last week’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Chiefs looked like their dominant offensive selves on Sunday night. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense has been one of the more stout units all season, but they couldn’t keep the Chiefs out of the end zone in the first half. If Clyde Edwards-Helaire doesn’t drop a pass with anyone surrounding him, the Chiefs go up 28-10 even earlier than they did.
That muffed kick put the Buccaneers in the worst possible position to start the game. Tom Brady coughing up the ball on a sack in the second quarter was also a detriment to the Buccaneers, but they were able to put together a touchdown drive at the end of the first half to make the score 28-17.
The Buccaneers held the Chiefs to a field goal to start the second half, but Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo knew where to attack Tom Brady’s squad even though they abandoned the running game. The Chiefs were still able to get pressure up the middle and keep the Buccaneers out of the end zone until late in the third quarter.
Following that ugly afternoon in Indianapolis, the Chiefs slicing through the Buccaneers’ offense like a hot knife through butter is a positive sign for them. But what happens if the Bucs don’t turn over the opening kickoff and take their scripted plays down the field for an opening drive? Judging from Tom Brady’s 385 yards and three touchdowns, it’s a good chance that they would’ve taken the lead first.
Also, don’t judge the Buccaneers’ defense by this game alone. They hadn’t given up more than 15 points in a game yet this season, and it’s not like they played the Chicago Bears in four consecutive weeks. They made light work of the Dallas Cowboys — with a healthy Dak Prescott — and also knocked off the New Orleans Saints. While they lost to the Green Bay Packers last week, the offensive line and wide receiver corps were decimated, and the final score was 14-12. It would’ve been far more difficult for the Packers to hold the Buccaneers to that low point total if they had to face the Week 4 Bucs. They got their starting left tackle back on Sunday night, as well as receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
While mistakes put the Buccaneers in a hole that they would never get out of, they did fight back, and showed what a healthier offense can look like. At 80 percent, they’re still by far the best team in the NFC South. The Chiefs forced the Buccaneers into those mistakes, and still showed that they can drive down the field, and have an enviable goal-line package even without a 6-foot-4 wide receiver and a 235-pound running back.
Expect to see both of these teams in home playoff games come January.