The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday, becoming the first team in over a year to beat Kansas City in Kansas City. The 19-17 win was close, but also very much deserved. The Bucs were simply the better team. So let’s go through the list of winners and just one loser — and even that one loser is a bit of a stretch.
QB Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston has had a somewhat up-and-down season, but he’s getting better as the year progresses. He had arguably the best game of his NFL career against the Kansas City Chiefs, despite scoring just one touchdown and simply dropping the ball, turning it over when they were about to score.
Winston completed 24 of 39 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions and just one sack. Most impressively, he converted 11 of his 15 third down attempts. Ironically, or perhaps tellingly, all four of failed third-down conversions came in the red zone.
And Winston did all of that against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Granted, that defense was missing Marcus Peters and lost Dee Ford during the game, but the Chiefs are a tough team to play. Winston performed very well.
K Roberto Aguayo
For the third straight week, Aguayo was perfect. He hit four field goals and an extra point, producing 13 of the Bucs’ 19 points on the day. His kickoffs have been outstanding throughout the year, and that didn’t change against the Chiefs. Aguayo had a rough start to the season, but it seems like he’s pulling it all together.
WR Cecil Shorts
Shorts has been less than perfect and has produced a couple of interceptions despite limited playing time, but he had a very good game against the Chiefs. He had five catches for 62 yards, produced a few first downs, and just had an all-around solid game that should ensure his playing time doesn’t get usurped entirely by Russell Shepard, though he too had a solid game.
CB Alterraun Verner
Alterraun Verner was benched early in the season for Jude Adjei-Barimah, and hadn’t seen the field on defense since then. That changed against the Chiefs, as Brent Grimes had to leave the game with an injury of undisclosed seriousness (his wife Miko Grimes said on Twitter that it was a massive thigh bruise). Verner held his own: he gave up one deep pass to speedster Tyreek Hill, but had a pair of pass breakups, three tackles, and just played some good defense. If Grimes is out for a longer period, Verner showed he can be a competent replacement.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith
His defense has been up and down this year, but this was a pretty good performance against a solid albeit not spectacular team. They bottled up the running backs, kept the passing game within wraps, and produced a pair of turnovers — though the second one came on the final lateral-filled play of the game, so it’s of dubious relevance. It’s a good performance by a defense that has been very up-and-down this year.
CB Vernon Hargreaves
I think? I’m kind of reaching here because I don’t really want to leave this post with no losers at all, but it’s hard. Chris Conte gave up a touchdown, but he also had an interception with a 53-yard return, so let’s not fault him too much. Hargreaves didn’t do much of anything except give up a 44-yard pass to Travis Kelce, of all people. He did have five tackles on the game, but Hargreaves seems to have hit the rookie wall a little bit.