Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Josh Freeman and Buccaneers come to life, beat Kansas City Chiefs

TAMPA — Josh Freeman has never lashed out when criticized. And past failures don't seem to eat at him.

But after looking tighter than the curls in his hair during the first quarter of the season, the Bucs needed the bye week to evaluate what their 6-foot-6 quarterback did best.

Along with under-fire offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, they came up with some answers in Sunday's 38-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs before 46,500 at Raymond James Stadium.

Freeman threw the ball down the field to his stealth bomber wide receivers, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Then he threw it to them again. And again.

Jackson caught two touchdown passes, and Williams had 113 yards receiving, his acrobatic 62-yard catch resulting in a first-quarter score. Tiquan Underwood turned a deflected pass into another 62-yard gain in the second half.

"When it comes down to it, I feel like my guys are better than their guys," Freeman said after passing for 328 yards — a career high in a victory — with three touchdowns and one interception.

"You hate to say it blunt like that, but we've got guys that can make plays when we give them opportunities."

The Bucs (2-3) won for the first time since opening day and snapped a three-game losing streak — by a combined 15 points to the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins.

The victory might have provided a template Freeman and Sullivan can follow the remainder of the season.

"I think on offense, they really wanted to challenge down the field some more," said safety Ronde Barber, who blocked a punt and added a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Bucs breathing room in the third quarter. "We hadn't done as much of it the first four weeks of the season as we probably could have. We made an effort to do it today — let our two talented receivers go make plays over their (defensive backs). There is no reason that can't be the norm for us.

"I think we all know what Freeman's strength is and he got to display some of that today and get the ball down the field. It's encouraging. I know he likes it and as a team, we can build off those big plays."

Sullivan clearly made some other tweaks during the 13 days between games. The Bucs made a better effort to get running back Doug Martin on the perimeter. He responded with 76 yards rushing — including a run of 23 yards, his longest run of the season— and had two receptions for 55 yards.

Martin ignited the Bucs on the opening possession of the second half when they led only 7-3. He took a short pass from Freeman in the left flat, made linebacker Justin Houston miss, and turned it into a 42-yard gain.

On the next play, Jackson (four catches, 66 yards) ran a skinny post and Freeman put some mustard on a pass for a 19-yard touchdown.

LeGarrette Blount got to fill his closer role, rushing seven times for 58 yards and capping the day with a 12-yard touchdown run.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano was asked if Sunday's win was bigger for Freeman.

"Yeah, I think it's a big day, a big day for our offense, for our team, right? To get back on track," Schiano said. "But for Josh especially. … Not only throwing the ball, it's that hidden stuff where I think he's really grown and is becoming a complete quarterback."

Of course, none of it would've been possible had the Bucs defense not had its most complete game. Tampa Bay held the NFL's leading rusher, Jamaal Charles, to 40 yards on 12 carries (3.3 average). And 22 of those yards came on a breakout run in the second half. All told, the Chiefs, who entered Sunday second in the league in rushing offense, averaged 2.7 yards per rushing attempt.

The Chiefs fell to 1-5 and are the only team in the NFL that has never led this season. Kansas City's lone victory came on a field goal as time expired.

Playing without suspended cornerback Aqib Talib, the Bucs secondary contested every pass thrown by Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn, who made his first start in nearly three years. Quinn was intercepted by rookie safety Mark Barron and by Barber, who picked a pass — deflected by corner­back E.J. Biggers — off his shoe tops and ran 78 yards for a touchdown.

Sunday was about trust: Sullivan trusting Freeman, Freeman trusting his receivers and a team that tunes out chatter like elevator music.

"Nothing anybody says outside our building has any effect on us," Freeman said.

"We've got the talent, we've got to the pieces, we just have to go out and play."

He's gone … again

NFL's most career interception returns for touchdowns:

No.Player
12Rod Woodson
11Charles Woodson *
11Darren Sharper
9Ken Houston
9Deion Sanders
9Aeneas Williams
8Ronde Barber *
8Eric Allen

(* active) Note: Does not include playoffs

Barber piles up points

NFL's most career defensive touchdowns (interceptions/fumble returns):

No.PlayerIntFum
13Rod Woodson121
13Darren Sharper112
12Ronde Barber *84
12Aeneas Williams93
12Charles Woodson *111




Freeman adds to his 300-yard games

Josh Freeman's 300-yard passing games:

DateYdsAtt-Cm-IntTDOpp.Result
Nov. 20, 201134228-38-22at Packers35-26 L
Sunday32826-15-13Chiefs38-10 W
Dec. 6, 200932144-23-50at Panthers16-6 L
Oct. 16, 201130341-23-02at Saints26-20 W


Many happy returns

NFL's most career touchdown returns (BKPR: Blocked kick or blocked punt return):

No.PlayerIntFumPRKRBKPR
19Deion Sanders916 30
18Devin Hester *001251
17Rod Woodson121220
14Ronde Barber *84002
(* active) Note: Does not include playoffs

Josh Freeman and Buccaneers come to life, beat Kansas City Chiefs 10/14/12 [Last modified: Monday, October 15, 2012 8:29am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
  2. 'Deadliest Catch' captain talks reality TV, Snoop Dogg and Tampa Bay

    Outdoors

    Keith Colburn is best known as captain of the Wizard on the Discovery Network series Deadliest Catch. Colburn and crew go to battle in the Bering Sea working one of the deadliest jobs in America. A seasoned veteran, Keith has filmed 11 seasons of the show and is still going strong with his relief captain …

    Captain Keith Colburn is seen in this undated photo courtesy of the Discovery Channel. Courtesy of the Discovery Channel
  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 51-60

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Wharton defensive back AJ Hampton will help lead the Wildcats into the 2017 season. Taken 7-6-17 by Scott Purks
  4. Rays series preview: Who are the Rangers?

    Blogs

    The road trip is done, but the Rays will still face a western team, as they tasks on the Rangers in a three-game series at Tropicana Field. Here's the information you need to know about Texas before the action kicks off.

    Record: 45-50, fourth in AL West

    Starter Tyson Ross, left, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, right, have struggled immensely this season.
  5. Checklist to help Bucs swagger into the postseason

    Bucs

    To boost their playoff prospects, the Bucs need to beat Atlanta at least once, as they did last year. Twice would be even nicer. (Loren Elliott, Times)