The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started the 2011 preseason with a bang, shutting out the Kansas City Chiefs in a 25-0 victory. The two teams took diametrically opposed approaches to their first preseason game. Whereas the Chiefs pulled their starters after one series to evaluate young players, the Bucs kept their starters in until deep into the second quarter. The Bucs had little trouble beating up on the Chiefs' backups, making this an easy victory for the team from Tampa Bay.
The Bucs dominated the game on defense, especially early on. A shut out is impressive, even in the preseason. But the defense set up every score as well. After new addition Michael Koenen pinned the Chiefs back at their own 10-yard line, rookie LB Mason Foster recovered a fumbled snap. Foster looked fast, aggressive and sharp as the starting middle linebacker, although he did not get much playing time.
That recovered fumble gave Freeman an easy touchdown on a scramble, and put the Bucs ahead 7-0. The defense wasn't done, though, Quncy Black forced another fumble on the next drive, giving the offense the ball at midfield. Freeman drove the team down to the 7-yard line, before settling for a field goal. With Arrelious Benn out, the Bucs force-fed the ball to Dezmon Briscoe, who got the vast majority of targets in the passing game.
The Bucs would continue to shut out the Chiefs throughout game, regardless of who was on the field. The defense even scored, as Michael Bennett and Dekoda Watson teamed up for a sack in the endzone, resulting in a safety. Dekoda Watson later added another sack, flashing his skills as a third-down pass rusher.
With the Bucs pulling most of their starters during the second quarter, they continued to beat up on Kansas City's backups. Freeman led a field-goal drive, while Josh Johnson looked sharp and accurate, as he led the Bucs to a touchdown in the third quarter. Even Rudy Carpenter looked decent, as he led the Bucs to another field goal.
Josh Freeman was 9/13 for 73 yards, and added 5 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Johnson was 7/12 for 108 yards and a touchdown, adding 57 yards on the ground on 5 carries. Dezmon Briscoe stood out with 4 catches for 60 yards.
The Bucs looked sharp and prepared for the regular season. Of course, it was a preseason game played mostly against backups, but it was encouraging to see. There were no real miscues, the quarterbacks were accurate and the gameplan was executed well. The defense didn't look weak, although the pass rush was still lacking from the first-stringers. And most importantly: no one went out with an injury.