Pictures from the Buccaneers' Week 11 matchup with the Chiefs.
Game Ball:** QB Jameis Winston turned in his second straight 300-yard passing game, and while he didn't match his 107.1 passer rating in last week's win over Chicago, his performance in Kansas City was arguably more impressive. Playing in the NFL's loudest outdoor stadium against the best takeaway defense in the league, Winston repeatedly extended drives with sharp third-down passes. In fact, Tampa Bay converted on a remarkable 11 of 15 third-down tries, and 10 of those 11 conversions were on Winston passes. The lone exception: a 12-yard scramble by the second-year quarterback on third-and-10 in the third quarter that extended the field goal drive that put the Bucs up for good. His final two third-down conversions were the biggest ones of the game: a three-yard touchdown pass to Alan Cross that gave the Bucs a two-score lead with six minutes to play, and a 14-yard out to Mike Evans on third-and-three that allowed the visiting team to nearly run out the game clock. Winston finished with 331 yards on 24-of-39 passing and was not intercepted. We feel good about this choice – Head Coach Dirk Koetter also awarded Winston a game ball in the Bucs' ecstatic post-game locker room.
Play of the Game:** S Chris Conte came up with a game-changing interception for the second week in a row. Last Sunday, he scored his first career touchdown on a 20-yard pick-six against the Bears. This week, he intercepted a fourth-quarter Alex Smith pass in the Bucs' end zone and returned it 55 yards to midfield. The Chiefs were poised to take the lead, gaining a first-and-goal in a 12-10 game with 12 minutes to play. Instead, Conte jumped in front of a short pass over the middle intended for Chris Conley and picked it off cleanly before dashing out of the end zone. That turnover – the Bucs' only one until a fumble on Kansas City's desperation lateral play in the closing seconds – essentially promoted a 14-point swing. Winston drove the Bucs 50 yards for a touchdown from the spot Conte was brought down, giving the visitors a nine-point lead with six minutes to play.
Turning Point: In one sense, it was Conte's play. However, the Buccaneers were already leading at that point and never fell behind again, so we can trace the turning point back a little farther, to just before halftime. Tampa Bay's offense had spent the entire first half moving the ball up and down the field but had only a 6-3 lead to show for it. When Smith hit WR Tyreek Hill for 42 yards with four minutes left in the half, it kicked off an 80-yard touchdown drive that put the home team head, 10-6, with 73 seconds left for the break. It looked like the Chiefs would take a healthy dose of momentum into the intermission. Instead, Winston led a sharp two-minute drill, hitting Adam Humphries for 18 yards and Russell Shepard for 19 to set up a 41-yard Roberto Aguayo field goal. That cut the lead to one point going into the second half, and the Bucs got the ball first to start the third quarter. Winston directed another field goal drive and the Bucs wouldn't trail again.
It Was Over When:** Winston hit Evans to convert that third-and-three near midfield. Evans slid to the ground to get his hands underneath the pass but also managed to barely stay inbounds, allowing the clock to roll down to the two-minute warning. Had that pass fallen incomplete, the Bucs would have punted back to the Chiefs, who would have had nearly two full minutes and a timeout to work with, needing only to get in field goal range. Instead, Bryan Anger's punt came with 23 seconds left and Hill's long-developing return ran the clock down to just eight ticks. The Bucs had merely to defend the classic short-pass-and-multiple-laterals gambit to hold on to the win.