Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie running back Rachaad White’s fumble on the opening kickoff, which lead to a Kansas City Chiefs touchdown :46 seconds into the game, set an ominous tone for what would be tough night of football for the hometown Buccaneers. Patrick Mahomes (249 yards passing) threw three touchdowns, and the Chiefs ran all over the Buc defense for 189 yards in a 41-31 victory on Sunday night in Tampa.
The Buccaneer defense entered the game as the top ranked unit in the NFL. They certainly did not play up to that ranking, looking more like a junior varsity football team in a scrimmage versus their much more equipped varsity counterpart. The Chiefs offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, which led to a 17-minute time of possession advantage. Kansas City amassed 417 total yards and converted on 70.6% (12 out of 17) of their third down opportunities.
The Chiefs scored points on 7 of their first 9 possessions, looking unstoppable at times in both the passing game, and running attack. For the night, Kansas City averaged 5.1 yards per rushing attempt, and had 117 yards rushing before any Buccaneer defender made contact.
Safety Mike Edwards, and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting were the lone bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance for the defense. Edwards led the team with 13 tackles, and added a sack, while Murphy-Bunting snagged an interception, and was the top graded Buccaneer on the night with a 92.6 rating.
The Buccaneer offense, besides two fumbles, looked like its familiar self as they finally scored over 20 points in a game this season. The return of receivers Mike Evans (103 yards receiving, two touchdowns) and Chris Godwin (seven receptions) energized the dormant unit and kept the Bucs competitive throughout the evening.
Tom Brady threw for 385 yards, three touchdowns, and attempted an astonishing 52 pass attempts. Rookie Rachaad White made amends for his fumble by amassing 50 yards receiving and scored his first NFL touchdown on a one-yard plunge late in the third quarter. Because the Bucs were playing catch-up all night long, they only ran the ball six times for a total of three yards. Needless to say, a better balance between passes, and runs will be needed if the Bucs plan on making the playoffs this year.
Kicker Ryan Succop made a 45-yard field goal, and all four of his extra point attempts. Rookie punter Jake Camarda did not have a great night, which can be expected because he’s a rookie. He averaged 41.7 yards per punt and had one of his kickoffs go out of bounds, which set up Kansas City with great field position. Camarda did show off his athleticism by making a touchdown saving tackle on a return right before halftime.
The recipe for winning games in the NFL includes stopping the run defensively and running the ball effectively on offense. The Buccaneers did neither against the Chiefs on Sunday night. The defensive front four must do a better job of penetrating on run plays and putting pressure on the quarterback on pass plays. If the Bucs are forced to blitz the majority of the game, they become predictable, and will be exposed throughout the rest of the season.
The Atlanta Falcons come to Tampa on Sunday to battle the Bucs for first place in the NFC South. Game time is 1 PM ET and will be broadcast on FOX. Let’s hope the Bucs get off to a much better start and make the necessary adjustments to be in first place after the dust has settled.