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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Series History: Buccaneers-Chiefs

The Bucs will put a four-game winning streak against Kansas City on the line Sunday, their longest active run against any team.

Pictures of the Chiefs' starting offense and defense, according to the team's depth chart.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' series history with the Kansas City Chiefs started out the way most of them did against AFC teams: a lopsided loss during an inaugural season of mismatches in 1976. Since then, however, it has hit some notable highs and lows, particularly in terms of points scored, and included some very interesting quarterback moments.

The Buccaneers and Chiefs have met 11 times, and most of that skein is dominated by a pair of four-game winning streaks, one by each team. The Bucs' run of Ws is actually current, and it's their longest active winning streak against any team in the NFL. Overall, Tampa Bay owns a 6-5 advantage in the series, with a 2-3 mark in Kansas City, and an overall points-scored edge of just 224-216.

In terms of those scoring highs and lows, they nearly hit opposite ends of the spectrum. The fewest points the Buccaneers have ever scored in a victory came in a 3-0 1979 season finale at Tampa Stadium (more on that waterlogged day below). And when the Bucs won, 34-31, at Raymond James Stadium 25 years later, it was the sixth-most points they'd ever allowed in a win.

Tampa Bay's 28-19 loss to the visiting Chiefs in 1976 was actually their fourth-closest game of that season, though the final score is misleading. The Buccaneers scored all their points in the fourth quarter, with Steve Spurrier throwing touchdown passes to wide receiver J.K. McKay and tight end Jack Novak, the latter being the only score of Novak's brief NFL career. The game was played on Halloween, but it was the Buccaneers' O-Line that was scary, allowing four sacks and blocking for just 14 rushing yards on 21 carries (0.7-yard per-carry average, still the third-lowest ever in a single game by the Bucs).

Pictures of the Top 10 Chiefs in Week 10, according to their Pro Football Focus player grade.

However, Kansas City also has the distinction of being the first AFC team that Tampa Bay defeated. The unfavorable expansion rules of the time led to an undermanned roster that lost its first 26 games, but the Bucs did finish the 1977 season with wins over the Saints and Cardinals. They were more competitive to start their third season, beating Minnesota and Atlanta in the first three weeks of 1978. In Week Six, the Bucs headed to Kansas City for the first time to face a Chiefs team that had a rookie head coach named Marv Levy, years before Levy would become a household name in Buffalo.

The Chiefs were struggling that year, however, and the Bucs took advantage with a 30-13 win keyed by interceptions from Cedric Brown and Danny Reece and two touchdowns from running back Jimmy Dubose. That game was played on a sunny, 72-degree fall afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium; the two teams' next meeting would feature far less favorable conditions.

That one was back in Tampa and it was played amid a torrential downpour that created miniature waterfalls down the concrete steps of Tampa Stadium and turned the field into a quagmire. Neither team could mount any semblance of a passing attack in the rainstorm, so the Buccaneers relied on the two strengths that had gotten them to the verge of a division title in just their fourth year of existence: defense and running back Ricky Bell.

Quarterbacks Doug Williams of the Buccaneers and Steve Fuller of the Chiefs combined to complete 12 passes for 97 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. But the Bucs ran when the visitors couldn't, handing it off to Ricky Bell 39 times for 137 of their 224 ground yards. Meanwhile, a defense that would end up as the league's top-rated unit held Kansas City to 80 net yards of offense, still the lowest total a Buccaneer team has ever relinquished. Even with all that, it was still a scoreless tie in the fourth quarter. One of Williams' five completions on the day was a seven-yarder to Jimmie Giles to convert a third-down and make it first-and-goal at the nine. The Bucs couldn't punch it in from there but kicker Neil O'Donoghue was able to deliver on what was probably the least certain 19-yard field goal in team history. The Bucs' defense forced a punt and Bell was able to run the last eight minutes off the clock in a single drive. Tampa Bay ended up with the NFC Central title on a tiebreaker over the Chicago Bears.

The Bucs and Chiefs would meet just four more times over the next two decades, with Kansas City winning all of them. That included three straight contests at Arrowhead Stadium in the 1980s, including a game early in 1981 between two teams that would finish 9-7, although only the Bucs would ride that record into the playoffs. Tampa Bay actually had a 10-7 second-quarter lead in that one before Nick Lowery would make four straight field goals for the 19-10 Chiefs win. Doug Williams had to do most of the work for the Bucs' offense, throwing 43 times for 294 yards, because the rushing attack stalled completely. In fact, with 12 yards on 23 carries, that game is weirdly one of only two in which the Bucs had a lower per-carry average (0.5 in this case) than the aforementioned Bucs-Chiefs game in '76.

The 1984 game, played at midseason in KC, was a close one, ending in a 24-20 decision for the home team only after a failed fourth down by the Buccaneers at the Chiefs' 20 with seven seconds left. Quarterback Steve DeBerg, who would leave the Bucs four years later to join the Chiefs, completed 29 of 54 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns, but he was picked off three times and sacked on third-and-two from the 10-yard line on the Bucs' second-to-last play. The last Bucs-Chiefs get-together of the '80s came almost exactly two years later in the middle of the 1986 campaign. This one also went down to the wire after the Buccaneers tied the game at 20-20 in the fourth quarter on a three-yard touchdown run by James Wilder. Wilder ran 29 times for 110 yards but Steve Young absorbed five sacks and the passing game produced less than 100 net yards. One drive after Wilder's tying score, Jeff Smith ran for a 32-yard game-winning TD.

It would be 1993 before Tampa Bay and Kansas City would meet again, finally back in Tampa, with the Chiefs led by Marty Schottenheimer and the Bucs by Sam Wyche in his second year. Schottenheimer's squad had been to the playoffs three years in a row and would go back in 1993 with an 11-5 record, but the big story at the start of the season was the player under center for Kansas City. DeBerg put together a good four-year run with the Chiefs but in 1992 had returned to the Buccaneers and the Chiefs had gone with long-time Seahawk Dave Krieg. In 1993, Kansas City traded for another West Coast veteran: Joe Montana. Former Buccaneer Steve Young had established himself as the new starter (and, like Montana, a future Hall of Famer) in San Francisco, so Montana came to the Chiefs for the final two seasons of his career. His very first regular-season game in a non-49ers uniform? In Tampa in Week One.

Montana was good during those two seasons in KC, if not quite the same superstar from the '80s. He was certainly good in his Chiefs debut, completing 14 of 21 passes for 246 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions at Tampa Stadium. He got help from another former California star, long-time Raider Marcus Allen, who ran for 79 yards and caught a 12-yard touchdown pass. DeBerg started for the Buccaneers but was later relieved by Craig Erickson in a 27-3 loss.

The Chiefs have had many, many starting quarterbacks since that brief Montana era, but none of them have beaten the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay's current four-game winning streak in the series began in 1999, which was a good year for Kansas City but a great one for the Bucs. The Chiefs had the upper hand when the two teams met in Tampa in mid-November, with a 5-3 record to the Bucs' 4-4 mark. But Tampa Bay was just beginning a six-game winning streak that would propel it to an 11-5 record and an eventual trip to the NFC Championship Game. The Bucs' swarming defense, led by Hardy Nickerson (12 tackles and an interception) held Elvis Grbac and the Chiefs' offense to 271 yards while Trent Dilfer built a 17-3 lead with touchdown passes of 35 yards to Dave Moore and 52 to Jacquez Green. Nickerson's interception, in the Bucs' end zone with less than 30 seconds to play, sealed the win.

After the league adopted a new scheduling format as part of its 2002 expansion and realignment, the Buccaneers and Chiefs settled into a rotation of dates every four years. In 2004, the Chiefs made their third straight trip to Tampa and eventually lost, 34-31, in a game that featured eight lead changes. Trent Green threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns and favored star tight end Tony Gonzalez, who caught nine balls for 123 yards and a score. Brian Griese was sharp for the Bucs, but it was running back Michael Pittman who kept the Bucs in the shootout with one his best days with the team. Pittman ran 15 times for 28 yards and three touchdowns and added two catches for 30 yards. His 78-yard breakaway put the Bucs up by a 28-24 margin in the third quarter, but the Chiefs responded with a touchdown to move back ahead by three. Pittman scored again a few minutes into the fourth quarter but Martin Gramatica missed the extra point, keeping the Chiefs within a field goal of tying it. Jermaine Phillips killed one scoring threat with an interception and then Dewayne White ended the Chiefs' last hopes with a fourth-down sack near midfield.

In 2008, the Bucs went to Kansas City for the first time in more than two decades and another wild game broke out. This was a bit of a surprise for the visitors, as Tampa Bay was 5-3 at the time and the Chiefs had yet to win a game on their way to a 2-14 finish. But this one was all KC for the game's first 28 minutes. Helped by an Earnest Graham fumble on the Buccaneers' first play from scrimmage, the Chiefs rushed out to a quick 14-0 lead. Kansas City quarterback Tyler Thigpen, who had already thrown a touchdown pass in the first quarter, ran deep down the field on a direct snap/reverse trick play and caught a 37-yard scoring pass from wide receiver Mark Bradley. Soon-to-be-Pro Bowl rookie return man Clifton Smith got the Bucs' backs off the wall with two minutes left in the half when he ran Connor Barth's kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown. The Bucs forced a quick punt and tacked on three more points before halftime to make it a more digestible 24-13 score. In the second half, the Buccaneers used an Antonio Bryant TD grab and a trick play of their own – a halfback option pass by Graham to tight end Alex Smith – to force overtime. Michael Clayton's 29-yard catch on the first play of sudden death kick-started a drive that ended in Matt Bryant's 34-yard game-winning field goal.

The most recent Bucs-Chiefs matchup was four years ago in Tampa, but this one was far less dramatic. Mike Williams caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman in the first quarter, and Freeman later found Vincent Jackson for two more scores in the second half. Ronde Barber, now playing safety and in the last of his 16 seasons, picked off Brady Quinn, as did then-rookie safety Mark Barron, and the Bucs ran away with a 38-10 decision.

Series Notes:

  • Overall Series: Buccaneers lead, 6-5
  • Bucs' Home Record: 4-2
  • Bucs' Road Record: 2-3
  • Current Streak: Win 4 (1999-2012)
  • Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 4 (Current, 1999-2012)
  • Chiefs' Longest Winning Streak: 4 (1981-93)
  • Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 224, Chiefs 216
  • Most Points in a Game, Tampa Bay: Buccaneers 38-10 (2012)
  • Most Points in a Game, Kansas City: Buccaneers 34-31 (2004)
  • Most Points, both teams: 65, Buccaneers 34-31 (2004)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Buccaneers 3-0 (1979)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, Chiefs: Buccaneers 3-0 (1979)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, both teams: 3, Buccaneers 3-0 (1979)

Bucs-Chiefs Game-by-Game Record:


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