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Patrick Mahomes threw for three touchdowns to outduel Tom Brady as the Chiefs beat the Bucs 41-31 in a rematch of teams that played in Super Bowl 55 Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium.
Brady also threw three touchdown passes, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Tampa Bay (2-2) from dropping its second consecutive game following a 2-0 start.
The tone was set on the opening kickoff, as Bucs rookie Rachaad White fumbled during the return and the Chiefs (3-1) recovered at the Tampa Bay 21-yard line. Two plays later, Kansas City was in the end zone, on a 16-yard pass from Mahomes to Travis Kelce.
Mahomes also threw touchdown passes of 2 yards to Clyde-Edwards Helaire and 10 yards to Jody Fortson.
Mike Evans, back with the Bucs after serving a one-game suspension, caught touchdown passes of 13 and 1 yards. Brady also connected with Leonard Fournette on a 5-yard scoring pass late in the fourth quarter.
White rushed for his first NFL touchdown on a 1-yard run, and Ryan Succop kicked a 45-yard field goal to account for Tampa Bay’s other points.
With the Bucs playing from behind for much of the game, Brady completed 39 of 52 passes for 385 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked once.
Brady connected with Evans eight times for 103 yards and the two scores. Chris Godwin caught seven passes for 59 yards.
Mahomes finished 23-of-37 for 249 yards, three touchdowns and a late interception.
Bucs tight end Cameron Brate left the game with a concussion.
Here’s how it happened:
Giving them a chance
His team leading by 17 and seemingly trying to run down the clock with just over five minutes remaining, Patrick Mahomes made a sidearm throw off his back foot deep over the middle.
But the ball was intercepted by Sean Murphy-Bunting, who returned it to the Chiefs 34-yard line.
Five plays later, the Bucs were in the end zone, Tom Brady hitting running back Leonard Fournette over the middle for a 5-yard touchdown.
Ryan Succop’ extra-point kick made it 41-31 with 3:30 still to play.
Down a man, maybe two
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Bucs tight end Cameron Brate has been ruled out for the remainder of the game with a concussion.
Brate finished with four receptions for 32 yards.
He was replaced by rookie Cade Otton.
Another rookie tight end, Ko Kieft, pulled in a 19-yard reception to the Chiefs 4 to set up a late third-quarter touchdown.
After Juan Thornhill was penalized for unnecessary roughness, moving the ball to the 2, Rachaad White was stopped after a 1-yard gain. Receiver Chris Godwin was injured on the play. He returned in the fourth quarter after being examined for neck and upper body strain.
White then scored on a 1-yard run over right tackle, his first career touchdown, bringing the Bucs back to within 38-24.
After forcing a Bucs punt, the Chiefs continued to attack through the air on a mid-third-quarter drive.
Patrick Mahomes completed three passes for 50 yards on a 65-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jody Fortson and a 38-17 Kansas City lead.
A 25-yard completion from Mahomes to Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Bucs 26 was the big play.
Mahomes also connected with Skyy Moore on a 16-yard gain to the Tampa Bay 5.
Tacking on three more
The Chiefs added three points to their lead on a field-goal drive to start the third quarter.
Matthew Wright’s 44-yard field goal extended Kansas City’s lead to 31-17.
The Chiefs started quickly, Patrick Mahomes hitting Skyy Moore for 15 yards to the Kansas City 40 on a quick slant.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire carried twice for 11 yards, moving the ball to the Tampa Bay 49. On third-and-10, a screen pass to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster picked up 19 yards and a first down to the 30.
But that’s where the drive bogged down, as Mahomes overthrew Moore in the end zone on third-and-6 form the 26.
As he has done so many times during his 23-season career, Tom Brady quickly led the Bucs downfield for a touchdown in the final minutes of the first half.
He engineered a 14-play, 75-yard drive — all through the air — that cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to 28-17.
Brady patiently worked his way down the field, no play longer than his 16-yard completion to Mike Evans on third-and-inches from the Chiefs 32, moving the ball to the 16.
After Juan Thornhill was penalized 15 yards for interfering with tight end Cameron Brate, moving the ball to the 1, Brady went back to Evans on a fade pass in the back right corner of the end zone.
The teams traded possession of the ball late in the first half.
The Chiefs turned the ball over on downs after a wide-open Clyde Edwards-Helaire dropped a Patrick Mahomes pass on fourth-and-1 from the Bucs 34.
On the next play, Kansas City cornerback L’Jarius Sneed hit Tom Brady from the blind side, forcing a fumble that Chris Jones recovered at the Tampa Bay 20.
Six plays later, tight end Noah Gray went in motion, stopped, turned and took the snap from under center before scoring on a 1-yard run. Mahomes, lined up for a shotgun snap, distracted the Bucs by pointing toward the left side of the formation.
Back in sync
There might have been no more beautiful sight for Tom Brady than wide receiver Mike Evans back in the Bucs’ huddle after serving a one-game suspension.
He looked even better open downfield, and Brady connected with him twice for 43 yards on a second-quarter touchdown drive that pulled Tampa Bay back to within 21-10.
Four plays after connecting with Evans deep over the middle for 30 yards to the Chiefs 34, Brady found him in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.
Brady also threw two passes to running back Rachaad White on the drive, picking up 21 yards. A completion to tight end Cameron Brate gained 11 more.
Former USF and Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was highly visible during a Chiefs touchdown drive early in the second quarter.
Valdes-Scantling first put the Chiefs in a hole as he was penalized for illegal formation. But Patrick Mahomes passes of 13 yards to JuJu Smith-Schuster and 7 to Travis Kelce gave Kansas City a first down at the 33.
After Mahomes scrambled 7 yards for a first down to the Chiefs 48, he found Valdes-Scantling over the middle for a 36-yard gain to the Bucs 16.
Valdes-Scantling beat inside linebacker Lavonte David downfield on the play, but David got a measure of revenge shortly afterward, when he slightly tipped a Mahomes pass that went through Valdes-Scantling’s hands in the end zone.
In the end, it was all prologue to Mahomes’ 2-yard touchdown pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Mahomes dropped deep into the offensive backfield, escaped defensive lineman Patrick O’Connor, then headed upfield. He sidestepped inside linebacker Devin White near the right sideline, then stopped just short of the line of scrimmage and dropped a push pass over top of the defense to Edwards-Helaire in the end zone.
The Bucs appeared to have the Chiefs stopped early on their second possession, when Carlton Davis had Patrick Mahomes trapped behind the line of scrimmage on third-and-1 from the Kansas City 42.
But Mahomes twisted away from the Tampa Bay cornerback and threw a pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster as he was going to the ground, resulting in a 4-yard gain and a Chiefs first down.
After a pair of incompletions, a pass from Mahomes to Travis Kelce in front of Davis gained 13 yards to the Bucs 41.
Kansas City faced third-and-1 from the 32, but Clyde Edwards-Helaire burst for 20 yards up the middle before he was pulled down by cornerback Jamel Dean at the 12.
After Mahomes carried for 9 yards around left end, sliding down at the 3, Edwards-Helaire scored on his second effort on a run up the middle after a direct snap to running back Jerick McKinnon, extending the Chiefs’ lead to 14-3.
Trailing by a touchdown before it ever touched the ball, the Bucs’ offense drove for a field goal on their second possession.
A 25-yard pass from Tom Brady to running back Leonard Fournette quickly moved Tampa Bay to the Chiefs 44.
A pair of 10-yard passes to tight end Cameron Brate and wide receiver Chris Godwin advanced the ball to the 28.
But a pass into the flat for Fournette on third-and-4 picked up only 1 yard, and the Bucs were forced to settle for Ryan Succop’s 45-yard field goal.
The Bucs gifted the Chiefs outstanding field position on the opening kickoff, and it took just 46 seconds for Kansas City to take advantage.
Jack Cochrane stripped the ball from third-round draft pick Rachaad White on the return, and Elijah Lee recovered at the Tampa Bay 21-yard line.
After a 5-yard run up the middle by Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Patrick Mahomes hit Travis Kelce with a short pass over the middle, and the big tight end took it 16 yards for a touchdown.
A rematch, yes. But a Super one?
It’s not a Super Bowl rematch.
But that doesn’t mean there can’t be one later this season.
The Bucs and Chiefs will meet tonight for the first time since Tampa Bay thumped Kansas City 31-9 in Super Bowl 55. Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns, two to Rob Gronkowski, and the Bucs’ pass rush, particularly Shaquil Barrett, chased Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes all over the field that night.
While tonight’s game will serve as a litmus test for both teams, ultimately it is no more important than Kansas City’s 27-24 win over Tampa Bay in November 2020. The loss served as a wakeup call for the Bucs, who went on to win eight straight games, including the Super Bowl in February 2021 at Raymond James Stadium.
A true rematch could come in Super Bowl 57, as the teams who have combined to win two of the past three NFL championships again are among the best bets to play in the big game.
The Bucs are within a missed two-point conversion attempt of taking the Packers to overtime and possibly entering tonight’s game undefeated. As it is, they are 2-1 and atop the NFC South standings.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, come off their first loss of the season, as well, a 20-17 upset at the hands of the Colts. But Kansas City (2-1) is tied with Denver in first place in the AFC West.
Gronkowski has retired and wide receiver Tyreek Hill was traded to the Dolphins, but this game still has plenty of star power.
Brady should have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones back as receiving targets. Leonard Fournette is a threat carrying or catching the ball. Inside linebacker Devin White was the NFC’s defensive player of the month in September.
On the other side of the field, Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce have been joined by receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Safety Tyrann Mathieu took his talents to New Orleans, but Chris Jones and Frank Clark are still around to anchor the defensive line.
Will we see these two teams playing again in February?
It would be Super.
Godwin, Jones, Smith expected to play tonight: reports
Tom Brady and the Bucs should feel more like the team that beat the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55 tonight.
The Bucs expect receivers Chris Godwin (hamstring), Julio Jones (knee) and left tackle Donovan Smith (elbow) to play on “Sunday Night Football,” per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Game day scene
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A little light reading
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