Whatever they did worked because the Bucs came out focused and pounded the Chiefs on both sides of the ball to earn their second victory of the season. Tampa Bay racked up 463 yards of offense and caused two turnovers during its 38-10 blowout over Kansas City.
Quarterback Josh Freeman had his best game of the season and threw for 328 yards on just 15 completions with three touchdowns and one interception. The Bucs also finally were able to run the ball with success. Doug Martin had 76 yards on 13 carries and LeGarrette Blount had 58 yards and one touchdown on just seven carries.
While enjoying their best offensive game of the season, the Bucs' defense also played extremely well. They held Jamaal Charles, the NFL's rushing leader entering Week 6, to just 40 yards on 12 carries and picked off quarterback Brady Quinn twice.
The win stopped a three-game losing streak for Tampa Bay and improved its record to 2-3 on the season.
After forcing a three-and-out on Kansas City's opening drive, the Bucs had excellent field position past midfield to start their opening possession. But Josh Freeman wasted a scoring opportunity after he threw an interception to linebacker Justin Houston while trying to find a receiver in the flat. Houston returned the pick 42 yards and gave the Chiefs momentum early on.
Brady Quinn and the Chiefs used the short passing game to get into Tampa Bay territory. Quinn dinked and dunked his way into the red zone, but the drive ended once rookie safety Mark Barron, Tampa Bay's first-round pick, grabbed a deflected pass for his first career interception.
It looked as though the Bucs and Chiefs would end the first quarter in a scoreless tie, but Freeman found wide receiver Mike Williams deep down the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the opening period. Williams just out-jumped corner Stanford Routt on the play and raced past him and the safety after the catch to put the Bucs up 7-0. It was the second consecutive game in which Williams had a reception of at least 60 yards.
The Bucs' touchdown didn't faze Quinn and the Chiefs because they went on a lengthy scoring drive on their ensuing possession. They continued to attack the Bucs with the short passing game and by running up the middle, and it got good results. While they faltered inside the red zone, the Chiefs ended the 15-play drive with a 39-yard Ryan Succop field goal to finally get on the scoreboard.
With the Bucs backed up near their own end zone, Williams came through with another excellent catch along the sideline for a gain of 36 yards. Two plays later, Williams put a nice move on cornerback Brandon Flowers to draw a defensive holding penalty and get the offense a fresh set of downs.
But Freeman struggled once they got into Kansas City. He overthrew a wide open Vincent Jackson down the field and wasn't on the same page with Tiquan Underwood on a third-and-6 pass. The Bucs came up empty when kicker Connor Barth missed his first field goal of 2012, a 55-yarder that bounced off the left upright.
The Bucs would get the ball again for 1:08 left in the second quarter, but were backed up inside their own 5-yard line and decided to run the clock out and go into halftime with a 7-3 lead over the Chiefs.
During halftime, the Bucs celebrated the 1997 playoff team and inducted offensive lineman Paul Gruber into the team's Ring of Honor. Gruber joins Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, head coach John McKay, and tight end Jimmy Giles as the fourth member of the Bucs' Ring of Honor.
Tampa Bay got the ball to start the second half and got into scoring position quickly. Running back Doug Martin took a short pass and raced down the sideline for a 42-yard gain. On the next play, Freeman delivered a strike to Vincent Jackson at the goal line for a 19-yard touchdown to give the Bucs a 14-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Quinn and the Chiefs drove down the field and got into Tampa Bay territory again, but once again failed to score after safety Ronde Barber picked off a pass that bounced off Dexter McCluster's body while he was falling to the ground. Barber was in the right place at the right time and returned the interception 78 yards for a touchdown to give the Bucs a 21-3 lead. The pick-six for Barber was his 45th career interception and his ninth career pick-six, including the playoffs.
Everything was going smooth for the Bucs until the Chiefs blocked Michael Koenen's punt and scored a touchdown on the play. After the punt was blocked, the ball went into the end zone. Koenen picked up the ball and tried to throw it away, but linebacker Edgar Jones intercepted the pass and dove into the end zone to give Kansas City its first and only touchdown of the game.
The Bucs answered quickly. On a third down play, Freeman went deep to Underwood and got 62 yards when he caught the ball after a deflection by Routt. Underwood showed great hand/eye coordination and was able to grab the ball as he was falling to the ground. The Bucs got down to the Chiefs' 10, but settled for a 27-yard Barth field goal to push their lead back up to 14 points.
Having a two-score lead, the Bucs went to the ground game to run some time off the clock. Doug Martin had a nice 23-yard scamper, which was a career-long for the rookie first round pick. Later in the drive, Freeman found Jackson for a 15-yard gain to move the chains and get into the red zone. From there, Freeman hit Jackson for a 17-yard touchdown, his second TD reception of the game. That score gave the Bucs a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs tried to cut into the lead, but were unsuccessful after Tampa Bay stopped them on a fourth down play. Once they got the ball back, running back LeGarrette Blount went to work and had a 35-yard run to put the Bucs inside the red zone. Two plays later, Blount would score his second touchdown of the season after a beautiful cutback run from 12 yards out.
Next week, the 2-3 Bucs will wear their throwback jerseys as they take on the 1-4 New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium.
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