Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Instant analysis: In upending Chiefs, Bucs simply were the better team

KANSAS CITY —The Bucs deserved this one.

They were the better team. On offense. On defense. On special teams. Nothing fluky about this one. The Bucs beat the Chiefs because they deserved to beat the Chiefs.

And, in the end, it was Tampa Bay's most significant victory since ... well, since I don't know when. Maybe Greg Schiano's first season?

The Bucs went on the road, overcame a first half in which they couldn't score touchdowns and had to kick field goals, and still came out with a 19-17 road victory against a quality opponent.

Here are some random thoughts from Sunday's huge Bucs victory that evened their record at 5-5.

•Wasted chances. That pretty much sums up the Bucs in the first half. Tampa Bay had four impressive drives, taking the ball to the Kansas City 17, 12, 4 and 23-yard lines. And all they could muster was three Roberto Aguayo field goals. They went to the half trailing the Chiefs, 10-9, but it felt like Tampa Bay should have been up 21-10. When your drives end up with three points instead of seven, especially on the road against a good team such as the Chiefs, you're asking for trouble. It made for a nervous second half, but it did not cost the Bucs the game.

• One of the Bucs drives that did not result in points in the first half ended because of a Jameis Winston fumble. It was the first drive of the game. Winston connected on three consecutive third down throws — to three different receivers — and had Tampa Bay set up in the red zone. But on a first down, Winston faked a handoff to running back Doug Martin and then the ball slipped out of his hands. The Chiefs recovered, ending the Bucs drive. But looking closely at the replay, one might argue that Winston was attempting to throw the ball. It easily could have been ruled an incomplete pass. Yet, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, obviously relying on advice from someone upstairs, decided not to challenge the call. Seemed challenge worthy.

• The red zone trouble continued into the second half. Again, first drive of the second half, the Bucs moved it 56 yards inside the Kansas City 20, but again watched the drive stall out. They settled for an Aguayo 36-yard field goal that gave Tampa Bay a 12-10 lead. Sounded good until you realized the Bucs easily could have led 28-10 at that point.

• If you have watched the Bucs this season, you have seen plenty of penalty flags and loads of facetime for the referee. Whether it's the other team (remember the Raiders setting an NFL record a couple of weeks ago?) or the Bucs, penalties are almost as common as a forward pass. Yet, Sunday's game was moving at a jaguar's pace because the first 28 minutes had no penalties. That's right: zero. The first flag wasn't thrown until 1:09 was left in the second quarter. Then the officials decided to make up for lost time. In the final 1:09, five penalties were called. No wonder the first 28 minutes of this game were so fun and minute No. 29 was so crummy.

• If the Mike Evans national anthem protest of last week was weighing on Evans' mind, it certainly did not show in his play.

• Interesting decision to start the fourth quarter. Leading 12-10 and having started a drive at their own 4-yard line, the Bucs faced a 4th-and-25 at the Kansas City 36. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter could have sent out kicker Roberto Aguayo for a 54-yard field-goal attempt. Instead, Koetter elected to punt. The whole thing ended up back-firing. Not only did Bryan Anger's punt drift into the end zone, the Bucs were penalized for holding. After that penalty was tacked on, the net yardage picked up by Tampa Bay was all of six yards.

• How about Chris Conte? A week after the Bucs safety had a pick-six against his old team, the Bears, he had a huge interception Sunday, intercepting an Alex Smith pass in the end zone and returning it 55 yards to midfield. Turned out to be the play of the game. After getting the ball, the Bucs put together a nine-play, 52-yard drive that finished with their first touchdown of the game: a 3-yard TD pass from Winston to tight end Alan Cross.

• If Conte's pick wasn't play of the game, this one was: Facing a 3rd-and-3 at their own 30 with 2:11 left and leading 19-17, the Bucs converted when Winston hit Mike Evans for a 14-yard gain. That first down took the game to the two-minute warning, and the Chiefs had only one timeout left.

   
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