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Chiefs hold off late surge from Buccaneers in victory over Tampa Bay

The Chiefs exposed Tampa Bay’s highly respected defense through the air in their 27-24 victory over the Buccaneers on Sunday.

Head coach Andy Reid was proud of how his players performed, especially after their last game against the Raiders.

“I was proud of our guys for stepping up after an emotional game like the Raiders game. You have to be able to do these things,” Reid said. “There are obviously some things that we can be better at, but it was a heck of a performance from our guys.”

Before the season, many fans and sports pundits circled this matchup as one of the more pivotal games of the season. In addition to being late in the season, meaning it would have a monumental impact on the playoffs, this game also marked the fourth matchup between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. Tom Brady is widely accepted as the greatest quarterback of all time, while Mahomes is seen as the player who will take Brady’s throne once Brady retires. Heading into the game, Brady was 2-1 against Mahomes. This included handing a gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Chiefs in the 2018 AFC championship where Mahomes and the offense never saw the field. There is always a little more competitive fire when the Chiefs and Brady face off.

Kansas City took no time to show Tampa Bay the power of their offense. The Chiefs opened up the game with a 34-yard pass to Tyreek Hill, who would give the Bucs defense all kinds of issues in the first quarter. It looked too easy for the Chiefs on the first drive of the game, but Tampa Bay’s defense was able to stifle the Chiefs offense at the goal line. Kansas City settled for a field goal, giving them a 3-0 lead in the first quarter.

A couple of drives later, the Chiefs made sure to add seven points to their lead when Mahomes hit Hill on a go-route for a 75-yard touchdown. Kansas City showed why teams must score on as many possessions as possible, because in the blink of an eye Tampa Bay was down 10-0 in the first 10 minutes of the game. After forcing another punt and suffocating Tampa Bay’s pass game, the Chiefs continued to irritate the Bucs. Kansas City took no time to add another touchdown on the board, which came from the same duo who has given many opposing defensive coordinators nightmares: Mahomes and Hill. This time the dynamic duo connected on a 44-yard touchdown, and Hill put an exclamation point on the score with a backflip into the endzone. If you went to open the door to pay the pizza driver, you probably missed the onslaught the Chiefs put down on the Buccaneers. After one quarter, the Chiefs led 17-0, and Hill had seven catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns.  

Tampa Bay continued to struggle to put drives together, and the Chiefs opened up the second quarter with the ball. Nothing seemed to get in the way of the Chiefs scoring another touchdown, but shockingly, Mahomes was sacked and fumbled the ball inside Tampa Bay’s 10 yard line.  The Buccaneers had finally received the break they were looking for to climb their way back into the contest. Brady and the Buccaneers’ underwhelming offense took advantage of Kansas City’s hiccup and added points to the board. Brady found running back Ronald Jones open in the flat, and Jones dodged defenders and tip-toed down the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown. The Chiefs were up 17-7 late in the second quarter. However, Kansas City went down the field and kicked a 29-yard field goal, heading into halftime up 20-7. Mahomes put up historic numbers in the first half by passing for 359 yards, the most since Peyton Manning in the 2004 playoffs.

The Buccaneers received the second half kickoff and opened the third quarter with a drive that looked to conclude with a touchdown. However, the drive sputtered out inside the Chiefs’ redzone, and Tampa Bay was forced to settle for a field goal. Kansas City still led by double digits, 20-10. Mahomes and Hill then showed Tampa Bay why touchdowns are needed to beat the Chiefs. The Mahomes-Hill duo punched the Bucs in the mouth again by connecting for their third touchdown of the night, this time a 20-yard dart which Hill caught in the endzone. Kansas City went up 27-10 halfway through the third quarter. Brady threw a costly interception on Tampa Bay’s next drive just when it looked like the Bucs were driving down the field. However, the Chiefs quickly gave the ball back to Brady and the Buccaneers.

After a couple of big plays down the field, Tampa Bay looked primed to put points on the board.  Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Brady had his pass deflected at the line of scrimmage, and Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepted the ball and returned it for 23 yards. The Chiefs failed to score on the turnover and took their 17-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay used hurry-up offense to trim Kansas City’s fourth quarter lead. Faced with a 4th & 3 at the Chiefs’ 31, Tom Brady found receiver Mike Evans on a fade route for a touchdown. The Bucs trimmed the Kansas City lead to 27-17 a few minutes into the final quarter. The Chiefs went on a clock-chewing drive but amassed no points. Penalties killed the drive, and the Chiefs were forced to punt after three holding penalties.

Tampa Bay continued to move the ball down the field, and Brady found Evans on a seven-yard out route for a touchdown. The Bucs found themselves only down 27-24 with four minutes left in the game. The Chiefs forced Tampa Bay to use both their timeouts, but they had to convert a 3rd & 7 to avoid giving the ball back to Tom Brady. Instead of running the ball, the Chiefs decided to throw and convert the third down. Mahomes found his favorite receiver, Hill, on an eight-yard out route to secure the first down and the victory.

Reid explained why he decided to throw for the first down instead of going with the conservative run call to eat more time off the clock.

“I learned a long time ago you don’t give the ball back to Tom Brady,” Reid said.

Kansas City’s offense has been outstanding this season thus far, and Sunday was another typical outing for the Chiefs. Mahomes completed 37 of 49 passes for 462 yards and three touchdowns, bringing his season totals to 30 touchdowns and two interceptions. Hill caught 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce brought in eight catches for 82 yards.

The Chiefs will host the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 6 at 7:20 p.m.

laldpy@mail.umkc.edu

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