What a difference a little rest can make. Oh, and the Kansas City Chiefs coming into your building.
Josh Freeman passed through, around, over, and underneath the Kansas City defense for 328 yards, Mike Williams pulled in four passes for 113 yards, and a tenacious Buccaneer defense put the clamps on the Chiefs in the second half en route to a 38-10 thrashing Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Through the first quarter, the teams traded interceptions in the red zone. Mark Barron picked off a Brady Quinn pass after it was jarred from TE Steve Maneri and into the waiting hands of Barron. On the last drive of the first quarter, the Bucs finally broke through.
Williams, who faced single man coverage for much of the day, leapt over the Kansas City cornerback on a deep route, plucked the ball off his shoulder, and beat the safety up the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown.
For Williams, the Chiefs’ press man coverage on the outside was a personal challenge.
“It was just called ‘double go’”, Williams said. “I told Josh, we knew they were going to give us single-high man press coverage. We [have] been saying all week that it’s disrespect towards us. They [are] both good corners, but we still think that’s disrespect towards a receiver when you play single-high man coverage and he [Josh Freeman] called double go and he threw it up.”
Freeman missed an open Underwood near the end of a punchless first half, drawing a chorus of boos from the fans. He more than made up for it in the second half, throwing for 206 of his 328 yards, including a pair of touchdowns to Vincent Jackson.
Despite the increased offensive output, Jackson says the aggressive downfield passing attack is nothing new for this team.
“That’s the way we play, you know what I mean. We are going to take our shots each and every week. You know if we got a one on one matchup we are going to be aggressive. We always talk about being aggressive toward the ball. We may not make every play but we’re going to fight for it and we’ll win our share of battles out there.”
After the Chiefs possessed the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half, the Bucs defense settled down in the second half. After a quick touchdown to take a 14-3 lead, the Bucs defense made a big play. A Brady Quinn pass intended for Dexter McCluster was broken up by E.J. Biggers, who was starting in place of the suspended Aqib Talib, and landed on the body of McCluster. Ronde Barber picked up the ball and raced 78 yards for a 21-3 lead. The play was reviewed and upheld, and the route was on.
It was Barber’s ninth career interception return for a touchdown.
“Just two slants, (and) I was covering the inside slant,” Barber said. “EJ (Biggers) actually made a great play; he’s gotten the assist on a couple of my interceptions the last couple of years. Give him more credit than me, I just snatched it off the ground before it hit, and then it was a pretty easy 78-yard run from there.”
The Bucs ended the day holding the Chiefs running attack to only 80 yards on 30 carries. Charles had 40 carries on 12 yards.
Conversely, the Bucs’ rushing attack got back on track to the tune of 145 yards on only 24 carries. Doug Martin heated up in the second half, finishing with 76 yards on 13 carries and 55 yards on two receptions. LeGarrette Blount slammed the door emphatically with a 12-yard touchdown run after carrying the ball 5 times for 53 yards on the final drive.
For Greg Schiano, the win is one to be enjoyed, with work to do shortly.
“Very rarely are you 38-10 in any league, so that was a nice way to have a little fun with players. We work so hard and I’m always, ‘on to the next thing and on to the next thing.’ I want to make sure when we do something like this, we do enjoy it a little bit. Tomorrow we will watch the tape and be sick about 1,000 things and have to get it fixed. The nice thing about a one o’clock game is that you actually have a couple hours to enjoy it, then we will get back on and get ready for New Orleans.”