RB Michael Pittman ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner
In the first quarter, it was wild. In the second quarter, it got wilder. And in the end, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 34-31, because Michael Pittman was better than Wilder.
That would be James Wilder, who held the Buccaneers' record for longest touchdown run, 75 yards, for 21 years. Pittman scored the Bucs' fourth touchdown on a 78-yard run, the longest rushing play in team history, in the third quarter, then recorded the game-winning points on a three-yard dive over the right pylon early in the fourth quarter. Pittman also scored on a fourth-quarter, one-yard run in the second quarter, giving him three rushing touchdowns to tie the Bucs' single-game record, something the prolific Wilder never accomplished.
Pittman's exploits, as well as those of QB Brian Griese (296 yards, 111.9 passer rating) and WRs Michael Clayton (five catches for 90 yards) and Joey Galloway (two catches that set up touchdowns), helped the Bucs win a shootout reminiscent of the famous, 38-35 downing of the high-powered St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football in 2000.
Indeed, Tampa Bay had by far its most prolific offensive day of the season, gaining 418 yards, including 288 through the air and 130 on the ground. Before putting up 34 points against the Chiefs, the Bucs hadn't topped 21 points in any of their first seven games.
They needed every yard to top the Chiefs, who came into the game having racked up 1,130 yards, 69 first downs and 101 points in their two previous games, both victories. Kansas City was prolific again, gaining 459 yards and 27 first downs, but they were held scoreless in the fourth quarter despite two lengthy possessions.
Tampa Bay's defense held in the end thanks to a sudden up tick in pressure. A blitz by LB Derrick Brooks forced an errant Trent Green throw that S Jermaine Phillips intercepted in the end zone to end the penultimate drive. When the Chiefs moved back into Buccaneer territory in the last two minutes, the Bucs hit Green on each of his last three drop-backs, including a sack on a blitz by CB Ronde Barber and a fourth-down sack by DE Dewayne White. White, playing inside for a thinned-out D-Line, had a sack for the second straight week.
Tampa Bay's defense also produced the game's only three turnovers, none bigger than one that turned a potential Kansas City touchdown into a huge momentum swing in the first quarter. After each team scored a touchdown on its opening possession, the Chiefs were on the verge of another score when WR Eddie Kennison broke free on a long pass over the middle. S Dwight Smith outran Kennison, however, and caught him from behind, forcing a fumble at the 11 that bounced into the end zone. CB Brian Kelly recovered for Tampa Bay and returned it to the Bucs' 29, from where Tampa Bay promptly drove for a go-ahead touchdown.
"I'm as proud of that play as any play I've been associated with, in terms of effort," said Head Coach Jon Gruden of Smith's forced fumble. Smith also had an interception, a pass defensed and five tackles.
The Bucs did much of their damage with a short deck. C John Wade went down with a knee injury on the first offensive play of the game for Tampa Bay. He was later followed to the sideline by Phillips, DT Anthony McFarland, WR Joey Galloway and CB Corey Ivy. Phillips later returned to the game and made the last interception despite having a broken bone in his right wrist, according to Gruden.
"We're proud of our team," said Head Coach Jon Gruden. "We beat a good Kansas City team. We had a lot of guys step up. Sean Mahan came in the second play and did a good job with the line calls. Same thing with Dewayne White and Jon Bradley."
The win was enormous for the Bucs. After feeling as if they might be cursed through the first month of the season, the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now feeling quite blessed. A month ago they proved better than Saints. Sunday, at the end of a 3-1 second quarter to the season, the Bucs survived a meeting with a Priest without needing penance. RB Priest Holmes scored one of Kansas City's touchdown but had only 59 rushing yards and 62 combined rushing and receiving yards. TE Tony Gonzalez did hurt the Bucs with 123 yards and a score on nine receptions, but Tampa Bay still got its record back to 3-5 at the season's halfway point.
The Bucs, who are trying to climb back into the NFC playoff race after an 0-4 start, defeated a like-minded team in the Chiefs. Kansas City opened the season 1-4 but had won two in a row to get to 3-4. Now, both teams are 3-5, which isn't a favorable place to be but neither is it totally bleak. In fact, three teams have responded from 2-5 starts to make the playoffs since 1978, most recently the 2002 New York Jets. By beating the Chiefs and winning three of four heading into the season's second half, the Bucs kept themselves in position to duplicate that feat.
It was a wild game from the beginning, with no punts necessary until halfway through the second quarter. Each team scored on its opening possession, Kansas City on a 25-yard catch by WR Johnnie Morton and the Bucs on an eight-yard reception by FB Jameel Cook.
The Bucs scored next, however, thanks to Smith's outstanding hustle play. Griese then led the Bucs on an 11-play, 71-yard touchdown drive, keyed by a 24-yard pass to RB Michael Pittman. The Bucs faced a tough decision at the end of that march, as Pittman was stopped on a third-and-goal carry inches short of the goal line. Perhaps sensing that every point would be critical in a developing shootout, Gruden chose to go for it and Pittman was able to dive across the line for the score.
Pittman finished the game with 128 yards and the three scores, his second consecutive 100-yard gain. Prior to Sunday's win over the Chiefs, Pittman had a total of two rushing touchdowns in over two seasons in Tampa Bay.
Of course, Kansas City answered immediately, driving 60 yards on 10 plays to tie the game on Holmes' two-yard run. Then came the first punt, unfortunately by the Buccaneers, and return threat Dante Hall ran it back to the Bucs' 32. Five plays later, the Chiefs took the lead on a 31-yard field goal by K Lawrence Tynes.
In a way, that was a blink, scoring just three points, as the Bucs were able to retake the lead on their next drive, moving 67 yards on eight plays for the go-ahead touchdown. The Chiefs blitzed on almost every play of the drive, and it hurt them on third-and-10 from the 22 when Galloway made a diving catch at the three, beating single coverage. The Bucs scored on the next play when Kansas City failed to cover TE Ken Dilger split wide to the left and Griese easily hit him with a three-yard touchdown pass.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs have a pretty good tight end, too. Kansas City stormed right back with a 64-yard touchdown drive, culminating in Gonzalez's remarkable, leaping grab of a 25-yard pass from Green. That gave the Chiefs a 24-21 lead, which they preserved heading into halftime when K Martin Gramatica missed a 46-yard field goal try seconds later.
The two teams had combined for 288 yards of offense in the first quarter and 505 by halftime. The Bucs' 21 points by the break equaled their single-game high for the entire season, and their 34 by game's end was the team's most since a 35-13 win at Washington on Oct. 12, 2003.
The only thing not working through the first half for Tampa Bay was the running attack, but that changed in a hurry in the second half. On the second play of the third quarter, Pittman took a sweep right, cut inside a great block by Clayton and ran 78 yards untouched for a touchdown. The longest run in team history, it put Tampa Bay back in the lead, 28-24. The previous long run was Warrick Dunn's 76-yarder against Chicago on Dec. 21, 1997. The previous long scoring run for Tampa Bay was Wilder's 75-yarder at Minnesota on Nov. 6, 1983.
Despite all the new injuries, the team was able to welcome Galloway back to action. The speed receiver had gone down with a torn groin muscle in the first half of the first game of the season, at Washington, and spent two months recovering from the injury. Galloway made an almost immediate impact in his return, as his one-handed, 21-yard catch at the Chiefs' seven-yard line set up Pittman's second-quarter touchdown. Galloway finished the game with two receptions for 40 yards, though he did go out in the second half with a hip strain.
The Bucs' leading receiver was once again rookie Michael Clayton, however. Clayton came into the game leading all rookie pass-catchers with 37 catches for 505 yards and tacked on five for 90 against the Chiefs. With 42 catches for 595 yards at the season's halfway point, the 'full-season pace' is rather obvious: 84 for 1,190. Those totals would easily break Tampa Bay's franchise rookie records.]
And delivering all those passes was Griese, who continued his month-long renaissance as the Bucs' new field general. He is 2-1 as a starter and 3-1 counting the New Orleans victory in which he played three quarters. He has yet to post a single-game passer rating below 97.4 after connecting on 22 of 34 passes for 296 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on Sunday. Griese continually threw for big gains off blitzes, a strategy the Chiefs employed on an incredibly high percentage of the game's snaps. Griese also worked the play-action fake to perfection, as he did on the game's first touchdown, an eight-yard pass to Cook.
[he Bucs looked energetic after enjoying their bye last week. Tampa Bay has now won two of its three post-bye games under Head Coach Jon Gruden, with the notable exception being last season's Monday night stunner against Indianapolis. In addition to the restorative powers of the off week, the Bucs may also be enjoying their return to a more normal schedule.
After a first half that included a Monday night game on the road, a Sunday night game on the West Coast and two late-afternoon home games, the Bucs will play six of their next eight games at 1:00 p.m. ET. That appears to be good news, as the Bucs have won three straight 1:00 kickoffs. On this Sunday, the Bucs' sunshine band enjoyed a spotless sky and a pleasant breeze as they beat KC to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Notes: Head Coach Jon Gruden's teams have won the game following their bye weeks in six of his seven seasons. The Buccaneers are 2-1 in that regard under Gruden. … Gruden is also now 3-0 in head-to-head meetings with Kansas City Head Coach Dick Vermeil. The first two victories came in 2001, Gruden's last year at the helm of the Oakland Raiders and Vermeil's first season in KC. … The Buccaneers are now 4-5 all-time against the Chiefs, having beaten them in the last two meetings. The Bucs have more victories against Kansas City than against all but two other AFC teams. Tampa Bay has five career victories against Buffalo and Cincinnati. The Bucs have also beaten Indianapolis five times. … TE Will Heller's 22-yard catch in the second quarter was a career long for the second-year player. His previous career long was a 12-yarder. … The Bucs scored a touchdown on their opening possession for the second time this season, and the second time in the last three games. The Bucs went 73 yards on four plays, ending in an eight-yard catch by FB Jameel Cook. It was Cook's second career touchdown, both on receptions. Tampa Bay then scored a touchdown on its next possession, too, marking the first time this season they had accomplished that to start a game. … WR Michael Clayton's 56-yard catch in the first quarter was his eighth reception of 20 or more yards in eight games, and his third of 40 or more yards. … Second-year lineman Sean Mahan saw his first career action on the offensive line, replacing C John Wade after Wade went down on the Bucs' first play of the game. … Rookie DT Jon Bradley also played for the first time as a pro, and played extensively after DT Anthony McFarland suffered a shoulder injury. Bradley was just signed from the practice squad to the active roster on Saturday. … WR Tim Brown saw his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception snapped at 179 when he failed to catch a pass against the Chiefs. Brown's streak was the longest active one in the NFL and the third-longest in NFL history.
Injuries: C John Wade suffered a left knee injury on the Bucs' first play from scrimmage and did not return. DT Anthony McFarland sustained a right shoulder sprain in the first quarter and also did not return. S Jermaine Phillips incurred a right wrist sprain in the second quarter but came back into the game. WR Joey Galloway went down with a right hip strain in the third quarter and did not return.
Inactives: The Buccaneers named eight players inactive for Sunday night's game: WR Bill Schroeder, RB Jamel White, FB Mike Alstott, LB Marquis Cooper, T Anthony Davis, G Jeb Terry, DE Josh Savage and designated third quarterback Chris Simms.
Quarter-by-Quarter Reports: During the game, Buccaneers.com provided updates of the action after each quarter. Those reviews of each period are below, providing a closer look at how the game unfolded.
First Quarter Review
The first quarter was a wild affair at Raymond James Stadium, with 288 yards of offense between the two teams, four long drives and one key turnover. Since that turnover went in the Bucs' favor, the home team had a 7-7 tie and the ball inside Kansas City's five-yard line when the quarter came to an end.
Kansas City won the toss and sent the dangerous Dante Hall back to return the opening kickoff. The Buccaneers covered the kick very well, however; Hall was stopped at the 23 by FB Greg Comella.
RB Priest Holmes cut off left guard on first down for a gain of three, stopped by DT Chartric Darby. Holmes got better yardage on a pitch right, finding a seam for six yards. Darby tripped him up on third down, but not before he got over the line for a first down at the Chiefs' 35.
QB Trent Green's first pass was a very quick slant to WR Eddie Kennison for a gain of eight. Kennison also got the carry on the next snap on a trick play of sorts, cutting left to right and getting around the end for a gain of 15 yards. DE Greg Spires made an extremely good play on the next snap, chasing Holmes down the line and dropping him after a catch for a gain of just one yard. However, Green found Kennison in a gap in the zone over the middle on second down for a gain of 14 and a first down at the Bucs' 27.
Holmes got just two up the middle on first down and Green's next pass was incomplete. The Bucs blitzed on third down, but Green took advantage, throwing a lob to WR Johnnie Morton. Morton got open by running an out-and-up, and he caught the pass as he crossed the goal line for a 25-yard touchdown.
CB Torrie Cox got the Bucs out to their own 27 with his first kickoff return of the day.
QB Brian Griese executed a nice play-action fake on first down and threw to a wide-open TE Ken Dilger, who turned upfield for a gain of nine. C John Wade was hurt on the play, with second-year man Sean Mahan coming in to replace him.
That was bad news; the Bucs came up with another bit of good news on the next play as WR Michael Clayton picked up 56 yards down to the Chiefs' eight-yard line. On the play, Clayton first blocked DE Jared Allen at the end of the line before releasing to his left. Griese faked a handoff again and wheeled to his left, finding Clayton wide open. The receiver then ran off big blocks from Dilger and WR Joe Jurevicius and shook several defenders himself before LB Kawika Mitchell pulled him down at the eight.
On first-and-goal, the Bucs ran RB Michael Pittman to the right, but he was stood up by Mitchell for no gain. Tampa Bay then went back to the play action for the third time in five snaps and it worked yet again. This time, it was FB Jameel Cook who was wide open for a short pass, which he then walked in for an eight-yard touchdown, tying the game at 7-7 halfway through the first quarter.
The Bucs caught Hall near the 20 again on the next kickoff, but an offside penalty forced them to kick again from five yards farther back. That ended up costing the Bucs about 20 yards when WR Chris Horn got a short kickoff back to the Chiefs' 38.
However, DE Greg Spires broke through untouched on first down to capture Holmes in the backfield for a loss of six. Holding and false start penalties soon had the Chiefs in a second-and-31 from their own 17. LB Ian Gold then made a great play to drop Holmes on a failed screen pass. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, CB Mario Edwards was flagged for a personal-foul facemask penalty, giving Kansas City a new set of downs at their own 32.
Another penalty gave Kansas City five yards, but an outlet pass to FB Tony Richardson was stopped for no gain. Holmes' next run got just two yards, setting up third-and-three. Holmes seemed to get the first down on a screen pass, but the Chiefs were flagged for an illegal block. The result was a third-and-13 from the 29.
That's when things got really interesting. Just before he was hit by Spires, Green got off a hard pass over the middle to Kennison, who broke through several tacklers to get free behind the defense. However, S Dwight Smith, showing stunning catch-up speed, caught Kennison from behind at the Bucs' 11 and forced a fumble. CB Brian Kelly followed the bouncing ball into the end zone, picked it up and returned it out to the Bucs' 29.
After an incompletion, Griese hit Pittman over the middle for a gain of 24 out to the Chiefs' 47. On the very next, TE Will Heller caught a 22-yard pass down the left numbers. Pittman took a handoff up the middle for six yards on first down from the Chiefs' 25, and Dilger moved the sticks with a short catch and a hard-nosed run to get down to the 13. However, Clayton was flagged for unnecessary roughness at the end of the play, costing the Bucs' 15 yards, though they retained the first down, at the Chiefs' 28.
WR Joey Galloway, playing for the first time since the first half of the season opener, got the Bucs back inside the 10 with a marvelous, one-handed catch of a 21-yard throw down the left sideline. Pittman ran right on first down and got three yards to the four. Before the Bucs could take another crack at the end zone, the quarter came to an end.
Second Quarter Review
The second quarter was even wilder than the first, with a combined 31 points. The Chiefs scored last to take a 24-21 lead into the intermission. In the first half, the two teams combined to record 505 yards of offense (276 for KC, 229 for TB).
The Bucs had a second-and-goal from the four when the second period began. An outlet pass to FB Jameel Cook was complete, but Cook ran out of real estate before he could turn it up to the end zone, going out of bounds at the one. RB Michael Pittman was stopped just inches short of the goal line on third down, setting up fourth-and-goal. Head Coach Jon Gruden signaled his intent to go for the touchdown, and the Bucs converted when Pittman dived over the middle and barely got the ball over the plane. The Bucs thus took a 14-7 lead one minute into the second quarter.
The Bucs did Kansas City a favor on the resulting kickoff, however, as Martin Gramatica's kick went out of bounds, resulting in a drive start of the Chiefs' 40. Kansas City gained six yards on some first-down trickery, an end-around with several other fakes to WR Johnnie Morton. RB Priest Holmes then took a delayed handoff after QB Trent Green's pump fake and dashed seven yards to the Bucs' 47.
A more conventional Holmes run to the left picked up four more yards, and another Holmes carry found the sideline on the left for 11 more, down to the Bucs' 32. Green's next pass, a deep out to Morton, was overthrown, but Holmes burst over left guard for six yards on second down, despite a nice solo tackle by S Dwight Smith. A slow-developing but effective short pass to Morton picked up eight yards and a first down at the Bucs' 18.
On the next play, Green faked a handoff and hit TE Tony Gonzalez at the Bucs' four. Holmes's first run from there got down to the two, and he scored easily over right guard on the next play. That tied the game at 14-14 with nine minutes to play in the first half.
The Bucs' next drive began at their own 30, but a play-action pass to Cook fell incomplete. A quick slant to WR Michael Clayton was also incomplete, broken up impressively by CB Julian Battle. On third-and-10, immediate penetration by DE Jared Allen forced Griese into a pass that was called intentional grounding. The Bucs thus had to punt from their own 20-yard line, and return man Dante Hall ran 29 yards up the left sideline to the Bucs' 32.
Green hit Gonzalez on first down for a gain of 13. RB Larry Johnson was then stopped for no gain, but another pass to Gonzalez got six more to the Bucs' 13. On third-and-four, good coverage forced Green into a tough throw in Johnson's direction and it was incomplete. The Chiefs settled for Lawrence Tynes's 31-yard field goal and a 17-14 lead.
The Bucs started again at their own 33. Pittman's first-down carry lost a yard when he was hit hard by DE Vonnie Holliday. However, a catch by Clayton on a slant picked up nine yards. On third-and-two, Griese barely escaped a near-sack and scrambled up the middle for just enough to move the sticks.
From the 43, the Bucs tried a little trickery, running a flea-flicker with Clayton breaking down the middle of the field. It didn't particularly fool the Chiefs, who had no fewer than four defenders chasing Clayton. Somehow, the rookie made a play that was ruled a catch at the Chiefs' 13. However, it was successfully challenged by the Chiefs and overturned. A penalty on the Chiefs did give the Bucs a first down at their own 48.
Griese stood in against a blitz on first down and delivered a sidearm pass to WR Joe Jurevicius for a gain of 15 to the Chiefs' 37. Tampa Bay narrowly missed a touchdown on the next play when another blitz resulted in single-coverage for Joey Galloway downfield, but the pass fell incomplete. However, the Chiefs were flagged for roughing the passer, putting the Bucs at Kansas City's 22.
A run by Pittman was lucky to get back to the line of scrimmage, and a second-down blitz forced Griese into a hurried incompletion. The Chiefs blitzed again on third down and Galloway made a diving catch to give the Bucs a first down at the Chiefs' three. The Bucs then let the two-minute warning arrive.
After the break, the Bucs needed only one play to score and take a 21-17 lead. The Bucs split TE Ken Dilger wide to the left and no one covered him, so Griese simply snapped the ball and zipped a short pass to Dilger in the end zone.
Another impressive return by Dante Hall gave the Chiefs a starting spot of their own 36, and a quick out by Morton picked up 13 yards. Green then hit Gonzalez for six yards and scrambled out of trouble for five more, resulting in a first down at the Bucs' 45 and a timeout with 57 seconds left in the half.
Morton caught another out on the next play, getting down to the Bucs' 25 while using only eight seconds. A blitz forced a quick pass to Holmes that gained only two yards. However, Green put the Chiefs back in the end zone on the next snap, throwing a dart that TE Tony Gonzalez leapt very high to catch. Gonzalez held onto the pass despite a hard hit by S Dwight Smith, putting Kansas City back in the lead, 24-21.
FB Greg Comella alertly caught a line-drive kick by Lawrence Tynes on the ensuing kickoff and got it back to midfield with 28 seconds left in the half.
Griese threw Jurevicius on first down, but the play gained only five yards and used eight seconds, with the Bucs using their second timeout. Griese then fired an 18-yard pass to Clayton and called a timeout with 13 seconds to play. The Bucs went for a game-tying field goal but failed when Martin Gramatica's kick went just wide left from 46 yards out. The Chiefs kneeled once to end the half
Third Quarter Review
Each team scored once in the third quarter, which allowed Kansas City to maintain its three-point lead, 31-28. The Bucs had the ball near midfield when the quarter came to end. Through three periods, the Chiefs had 389 yards of offense and the Bucs had 344.
The Bucs' started at their own 20 and got two yards on a play-action, rollout pass to WR Michael Clayton. On the next play, Clayton executed a perfect seal block to help spring RB Michael Pittman through a gap on a sweep to the right. Pittman hit the open field and outran the rest of the Chiefs' defense for a 78-yard touchdown. The longest run in team history, it put Tampa Bay up, 28-24.
RB Priest Holmes got the first carry of Kansas City's next drive, picking up two yards to the Chiefs' 31. A pass to TE Tony Gonzalez picked up 13 yards and a first down, but Holmes's next run got just one yard. Good coverage on second down from the 44 forced QB Trent Green to throw a short, incomplete pass in the direction of TE Jason Dunn. On third down, the Bucs blitzed and CB Mario Edwards nearly intercepted a pass intended for WR Johnnie Morton on the left sideline.
Kansas City's first punt of the day was bobbled out of bounds by WR Joey Galloway at the Bucs' 13.
An offside penalty gave the Bucs five yards, but a failed sweep by Pittman made it second-and-seven, and the next two passes were incomplete, one hitting off a Chiefs' helmet at the line of scrimmage. The Bucs had to punt, and Josh Bidwell got off a well-timed blast, sending his kick 57 yards before it was caught by Dante Hall. An illegal block by the Chiefs pushed Kansas City back to their own 30.
The Chiefs got 13 yards on a first-down pass to Gonzalez, then neared midfield on a quick strike to WR Eddie Kennison on the right sideline. However, Green faked a handoff and threw again on second-and-five, resulting in a turnover when S Dwight Smith made a leaping pick near the right sideline. The Bucs took over possession but were forced back to their own 23 by a 15-yard penalty when the whole defense was called for 'taunting' during its celebration.
The Bucs spread out the defense with a four-wide set and ran a delay with Pittman on first down, picking up nine yards. A play-action pass to Clayton worked, too, but the first down was lost when Clayton was flagged for a personal-foul facemask. That made it second-and-11 from the Bucs' 22, and a slant over the middle to Clayton that looked very promising was tipped away at the line. On third-and-11, CB Julian Battle was called for pass interference and the Bucs ended up with a first down at their own 40.
Two incompletions and a false start later, the Bucs faced a third-and-15. Tampa Bay tried to catch Kansas City off-guard with a shovel pass to Pittman, but the play came up about 10 yards short. Bidwell's ensuing punt was fair caught by Hall at the 20.
Holmes tried to go left on first down but gained just one yard as he was brought down by DT Jon Bradley. A crossing-route pass to Gonzalez set up a short third down as he gained six yards. The Chiefs converted the third down and more by throwing a very quick slant to WR Chris Horn. Horn broke away from the first tackle and shot through the middle of the defense all the way to the Bucs' 43.
Another sweep to the left worked for Holmes, as he found a seam to cut through for 13 yards. On the next play, Green enjoyed a well-formed pocket and used it to find Gonzalez for 29 yards down to the one. The Bucs' defense held valiantly on first and second down, twice stopping RB Larry Johnson on runs off left tackle. However, Green faked a handoff on third down and rolled right, eventually picking out TE Jason Dunn in the back of the end zone for a one-yard touchdown pass and a 31-28 Chiefs lead.
After a touchback on the kickoff, the Bucs started at their own 20 and got a quick first down on runs of five and seven yards up the middle by Pittman. A pass interference call against the Chiefs moved the ball seven more yards and made it first down at the Bucs' 39.
Griese then hit TE Ken Dilger for five yards, bringing the third quarter to a close.
Fourth Quarter Review
After three quarters of back-and-forth scoring, the Buccaneers cracked the end zone last, then pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter to complete a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Locked in an all-out shootout for the first time in years, the Bucs lost the overall yardage battle, 459-419, but produced the game's only three turnovers and came up with two impressive stops on the Chiefs' last two possessions. QB Brian Griese passed for 296 yards and RB Michael Pittman ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bucs faced a second-and-five at their own 44 to start the third quarter and immediately moved the ball into Kansas City territory. Seeing the Chiefs ready to blitz off both ends, Griese started one way then shoveled the ball back the other way to Pittman, who beat the defender around the corner and got 16 yards. From the Chiefs' 40, Griese then hit WR Joe Jurevicius cutting right to left for a gain of 23.
From the Chiefs' 17, Griese threw a slant to WR Charles Lee, who gained seven yards. After Pittman gained one yard out of a power set, the Bucs brought in an extra receiver on third-and-two. Not liking what he saw, Griese then called a timeout.
After the extra time to think about it, the Bucs threw a play-action pass to FB Jameel Cook, getting six yards down to the three. On first-and-goal, Pittman bounced an inside carry out to the right and just beat the defenders to the corner, diving over the pylon for the go-ahead touchdown. The extra point try went awry, however, thanks to a high snap, and the Bucs lead was only three points instead of four, 34-31.
Kansas City started again at its own 36 and QB Trent Green dropped back to pass. He had good time, but the Bucs had good coverage and the pass to RB Larry Johnson got only three yards. However, a draw play to Johnson on the next snap worked to the turn of 11 yards.
On first down from the Chiefs' 47, Green threw to WR Johnnie Morton for five yards, and Johnson followed with a three-yard run off left guard. Johnson then got around the corner on a third-down screen pass and went out of bounds at the Bucs' 37.
On the next play, LB Ian Gold tracked down a slow-developing run from behind and got Johnson after a two-yard gain. Green was hit as he threw on second down but still got off a soft pass that found its target in WR Eddie Kennison the right sideline. That 12-yard gain made it first down at the Bucs' 24, but an intentional grounding call on an apparent broken play cost the Chiefs 10 yards.
On second-and-22, Green threw a short pass over the middle to Johnson, who gained 12 yards. On third-and-nine, Green overthrew TE Tony Gonzalez, but the Chiefs drew an extra set of downs when DE Dewayne White was flagged for defensive holding.
Johnson tried to go wide to the left on the new first down, but CB Ronde Barber came off a block and caught him in the backfield for a loss of four. The Bucs' defense brought a blitz on second down and LB Derrick Brooks hit Green as he threw. Green was trying to find Gonzalez in the end zone, but the pass was knocked well off target and intercepted in the end zone by S Jermaine Phillips.
The touchback gave Tampa Bay a first down at their own 20 with 5:48 to play. A first down pass to TE Ken Dilger along the right hash gave the Bucs a nice start, a 24-yard gain. Pittman got three yards up the middle, but a second down pass to Jurevicius was disrupted by quick pressure. On third-and-seven from the Bucs' 44, Griese held the ball a bit too long and was sacked by blitzing LB Scott Fujita. The Bucs had to punt and the kick rolled to a stop at the Chiefs' 19.
Green threw short to Morton on first down, but Barber stopped the receiver after a gain of three. DE Greg Spires tripped up Johnson on second down, keeping the back from getting more than four yards. However, a third-down pass to Johnson got 15 yards and an extra five thanks to a facemask.
From their own 46, the Chiefs gave it to Johnson again and he got five yards into Buccaneer territory. A quick pass to Kennison picked up four yards and the Chiefs came out in a power package on third-and-one. It worked as Johnson powered over left guard for a two-yard gain to the Bucs' 43. Kansas City called its second timeout with 1:50 to play.
The Bucs then dialed up the pressure. On a blitz, Barber hit Green and knocked the pass loose, resulting in a fumble that the Chiefs recovered. DE Simeon Rice hit Green on his next throw, forcing an overthrow down the right sideline. On third-and-18, the Bucs rushed only three and Green had a lot of time to throw, but Rice eventually hit him from behind, jarring the ball loose. Gold recovered for the Bucs at their own 44, but the play was reviewed upstairs to see if the play might be called an incomplete pass.
And, indeed, that was the ruling. The fumble was overturned and the Chiefs were given another crack, facing fourth-and-18 with 1:15 to play. In the end, it was academic, as DE Dewayne White broke through before the play could develop and sacked Green for a loss of seven.
Tampa Bay got the ball back on downs at their own 42 and set out to drain the clock. The Chiefs slowed it down by calling a final timeout, but two more kneel-downs ended the game.