By Michelle Sabin
Sports Talk Florida
If it was revenge that they had on their mind, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs certainly delivered.
From a fumbled kickoff return to a nonexistent run game and inability to contain the Chiefs offense, Tampa Bay fell short on all sides of the ball.
Head Coach Todd Bowles, who took personal accountability for the loss, said, “We didn’t play well. They did a good job, and they kicked our butts all over the field.” Bowles highlighted the need to hold teams to 3 points in the red zone and added, “turnovers had nothing to do with it, we got to play situational football.”
Tampa Bay’s struggles started from the beginning. Rookie running back Rachaad White fumbled the kickoff return on the 23-yard line, and the ball was recovered by the Chiefs. In just two plays, Mahomes capitalized on the Buccaneers mistake finding tight end Travis Kelce in the end zone on a 16-yard pass. Less than a minute into the game and Tampa Bay was already behind 7-0. They never recovered.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 385 yards, and completed 3 touchdown passes, but with inability to convert critical third downs, most of their drives fell flat.
In their first drive of the game, Brady took the field following White’s 28-yard kick return. It was a 3-yard rush for running back Leonard Fournette before Brady found him on a short pass the next play. Fournette took the ball out 25 yards for a first down, and it appeared the momentum was on their side. Brady found tight end Cameron Brate for another first down, before the Chiefs stopped Fournette’s run with a loss of 4 yards. The Buccaneers settled for kicker Ryan Succop’s 45-yard field goal.
The Chiefs rush defense outplayed the Buccaneers holding them to just three net yards. Brady said, “Obviously we are not going to throw it all the time, we have plenty of good capable runners, and a line that does a great job in the run game, we just haven’t kind of found our rhythm yet there.”
On the other sideline, the Chiefs had 189 rushing yards against the Bucs defense, including two rushing touchdowns in the first half.
On their second drive of the game, on 3rd and 1, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire went right up the middle virtually untouched for 20-yards. Immediately after, running back Jerick McKinnon received the direct snap and handed it off to Edwards-Helaire for a 3-yard touchdown run expanding the Chiefs lead 14-3.
Both teams exchanged touchdowns at the start of the second quarter, with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Edwards-Helaire, and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Brady to receiver Mike Evans. The Chiefs held the lead 21-10.
With five minutes left in the half, Kansas City faced 4th and 1 from the Tampa Bay 34-yard line. Mahomes went for it, but his pass intended for Edwards-Helaire was incomplete and the ball turned over on downs.
It was short lived for the Bucs, as Brady was sacked on the first play and fumbled the ball. Lineman Tristan Wirfs faced two rushers and Chiefs L’Jarius Sneed flew past him. Brady never saw it coming. The turnover was costly, as Kansas City expanded their lead 28-10 with a 1-yard touchdown run from Noah Gray.
Tampa Bay answered with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Evans in the back of the end zone, but the Buccaneers still trailed 28-17 going into halftime.
The drive also added Brate to the injured list after he collided with Chris Godwin and Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill. Brate, who clearly impacted his head on the play, left the field and had a brief discussion on the sideline with the Bucs staff. However, surprisingly, he was put back in the game for several snaps including a targeted incomplete pass from Brady in the end zone. During halftime, Brate was evaluated and ruled out with a concussion.
Kansas City continued their onslaught in the second half adding two field goals and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jody Fortson.
It was a bittersweet game for Bucs rookie Rachaad White, who, despite the loss, had his first career touchdown, on a 1-yard rush in the third quarter. White explained, “It was tough . . .for me it was a bittersweet moment. I was blessed. I was grateful that I got my first touchdown but obviously I wanted it in different circumstances.”
Following White’s touchdown and Succop’s extra point, the score narrowed to 38-24. Tampa Bay came back with a 5-yard touchdown by Fournette in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to recover from the deficit. The Chiefs got their sweet revenge with a 41-31 victory in Tampa.
The Buccaneers (2-2) need improvement on all sides of the ball before they take on division rival Atlanta Falcons on October 9.
The videos in this story were provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Youtube channel.