From Raymond James Stadium
There were three teams during the 2009 NFL season that won fewer games than the four victories that the Chiefs claimed. One of those clubs was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They won three games for rookie head coach Raheem Morris.
So Saturday night along the waters of Tampa Bay should have been a situation where the Chiefs were provided help in their journey to learn how to win. They were not facing a contender like they were last week in Atlanta. They weren’t even facing a pretender. They were facing a team like themselves, one that scraped the bottom of the NFL barrel last season.
No such luck for Todd Haley and his Chiefs. Tampa Bay took a 20-15 victory before an incredibly small announced crowd of 41,486 at the RJS. There’s no way that more than 40,000 butts were in the seats to watch this one that was blacked out in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. UPDATE: Stadium officials said after the game that 30,413 fans walked through the turnstyles.
The outcome of these August games are meaningless, unless you are a team like the Chiefs that has won only 10 regular season games in the last three seasons and only two pre-season games. That’s 62 times they’ve stepped on the field in competition in 2007-08-09-10.
That’s a 12-50 record, for a winning percentage of .194.
When you hauling around that kind of trash, you need to win whatever contest is going on that day. On this muggy Florida night it was the Bucs and despite the fact the Chiefs worked hard this week formulating a plan to help them win this game, it still didn’t pay off because of several mistakes that killed their victory chances.
“We came into this game with a clear-cut plan, an idea of some things that we had to get accomplished or had to see improvement in,” Haley said afterwards. “One of those things was starting faster with the first-team offense, and they turned the ball over on the first possession after it looked like they were starting to move the ball.”
They wanted to cause turnovers as well, since they did not get a single takeaway against Atlanta. That was in the back of CB Brandon Flowers mind when he tried to strip Tampa Bay WR Micheal Spurlock after a catch. Instead, Spurlock went 53 yards for a score.
Overall, the Chiefs outgained the Bucs 366 to 312. They out ran them, 152-99 yards. They even out threw them with 214 passing yards to 213. But Tampa Bay had no turnovers; the Chiefs had three. The Bucs had two sacks; the Chiefs did not have a sack, although they got close enough to Tampa Bay starter and Kansas City native Josh Freeman suffered an injury to his right thumb, forcing him out of the game.
The Chiefs started the game with the ball, winning the opening coin toss and electing to receive, rather than pushing back their choice to the second half as they did last week. But they did not keep the ball very long, as three plays into the possession Jones went off right guard on a draw play and fumbled. DE Kyle Moore caused the fumble and LB Geno Hayes recovered the ball giving the Bucs first-and-10 at the Chiefs 41-yard line.
Put in this tough situation and defending a short field, the Chiefs defense was able to hold the Bucs to 28 yards and allowed just a 31-yard field goal by Connor Barth. Key play was on third-and-five, the Chiefs went four rushers, including LBs Mike Vrabel and Andy Studebaker who pressured Freeman to get rid of the ball early.
Down 3-0 to start the game, kick returner Javier Arenas almost changed the scoreboard. Catching the kickoff one-yard deep in the end zone, Arenas went left, somehow got away from two different tacklers and then ran for another 25 yards before he was brought down by a fleet of Buccaneers.
When it was done, his return was 54 yards and gave the Chiefs offense field position at the Tampa Bay 47-yard line. Cassel led the first offense on an eight-play, 47-yard touchdown drive, finding rookie WR eremy Horne in the end zone for an eight-yard TD connection on a third down play.
The key performer in the drive was Cassel, who hit four of five passes for 35 yards and the touchdown. The four completions went to four different receivers, in FB Mike Cox, WR Dwayne Bowe, Charles and Horne.
The PAT kick by Ryan Succop gave the Chiefs their first lead of the pre-season at 7-3.
Early in the second quarter, Tampa Bay took the lead back as No. 2 quarterback Josh Johnson directed the offense 88 yards on six plays. The big one was the 53-yard TD pass from Johnson to Spurlock. On that play, Spurlock was well covered by Flowers. Once the ball was in Spurlock’s hands, Flowers tried to rip it out rather than securing his tackle.
Spurlock shrugged him off and then went some 45 yards for the touchdown. Barth’s PAT kick gave Tampa Bay a 10-7 lead.
The teams traded punts before the Chiefs gained possession at their 13-yard line with 4 minutes, 45 seconds to play in the half. Just as they did last week in Atlanta, the Kansas City offense was able to use every second of that clock and finish the half getting points. It was a 14-play, 77-yard drive where Cassel was six of eight throwing the ball for 63 yards. He connected with WR/RB Dexter McCluster for 17 yards, later hitting a big third-down conversion throw to Charles for 16 yards.
Eventually, they used all of their timeouts to stop the clock and had to settle for a 28-yard FG from Succop as time expired, leaving the scored tied 10-10.
For the No. 1 offense it was a strong passing performance without much in the way of generating a running game; Chiefs backs ran 15 times for 55 yards. Cassel was 14 of 19 (completion percentage of 73.7) for 125 yards and a TD pass. His passer rating was 108.4, that low due largely to the fact he averaged just 6.6 yards per passing play.
The No. 1 defense for the most part played well, giving up 177 yards but 30 percent of that yardage came on a single play â€“ the Spurlock 53-yard touchdown where Flowers failed to secure his tackle. Tampa Bay running backs averaged just 3.9 yards per carry in the first half.
In the third quarter the Chiefs got the lead back late in the period, when a 13-play, 76-yard drive led by QB Tyler Palko set up a 29-yard FG by Succop. The workhorse of the drive was RB Jackie Battle, who carried six times for 39 yards.
They held on to their 13-10 lead until just more than five minutes into the fourth quarter when a Palko pass for RB Javarris Williams was intercepted by CB Derrick Roberson. That set up the Bucs at the Kansas City 41-yard line. They ended up at the 18, where Barth made a 36-yard FG to tie the score.
Less than four minutes later they grabbed the lead when QB Rudy Carpenter hooked up with WR Terrence Nunn on a five-yard TD that with the PAT kick, gave Tampa Bay a 20-13 edge.
With time ticking off the clock, Palko led the Chiefs on another long drive, starting at the Kansas City 12 and moving to a first-and-goal at the Bucs nine-yard line at the two-minute warning. On first down Palko scrambled out of bounds for five yards. Battle ran for two yards, and then Palko’s pass was incomplete to WR Rich Gunnell. Facing a fourth-and-goal at the two, the Chiefs were flagged for a false start (LG Ikechuku Ndukwe). On fourth-and-seven, Palko threw short of the end zone to Gunnell who was tackled at the two-yard line.
Still, the Chiefs weren’t done. Still holding all of their timeouts, they were able to force the Bucs into a fourth down punt situation at the Tampa Bay four-yard line. Rather than kick P Brent Bowden ran out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The Chiefs got the ball back and had four more plays, but it all ended when CB Brandon Anderson intercepted a desperation pass by Palko on fourth down.
The Chiefs are now 0-2 on the pre-season, coming home to Arrowhead Stadium to play the Green Bay Packers on Friday evening.