Improbable Overtime Victory Keeps Bucs In Play-Off Hunt
The 5-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave the 1-6 Kansas City Chiefs just about every chance to get their second win of the season. Three fumbles, one interception, and a 21-point deficit. Possibly one of the craziest games of the season. Yet, in true NFL unpredictability, the Buccaneers came out on top with a 30-27 victory in overtime, thanks to a Matt Bryant field goal. It was the biggest comeback win in franchise history.
Rookie Clifton Smith, making only his second career NFL start, took a kick-off 97 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was only the second kick-off return of Buccaneer history, and the longest.
Quarterback Jeff Garcia had 339 yards of passing, with one touchdown, one interception, and also threw a two-point conversion to tight end Alex Smith, who caught his third score of the season courtesy of Earnest Graham's 3 yard pass.
Wide receiver Antonio Bryant continued with his fine return to football, with eight receptions for 115 yards and one TD grab, magnificently keeping his feet in bounds to put the Bucs within two points of the Chiefs lead, wth only 19 seconds of the 4th quarter remaining.
Even Michael Clayton got in on the act with four catches, the longest being a 29-yarder in overtime to put the Bucs in field goal range.
The Buccaneers defense was again mistake prone, with Sabby Piscatelli's illegal contact negating Philip Buchanon's interception. Buchanon was beaten by Mark Bradley on a 50-yard catch, and veteran Ronde Barber was fooled by the Wildcat offense as Chiefs quarterback Tyler Thigpen raced by him for a 37-yard touchdown catch.
The Bucs gave up their first rushing touchdown of the year to Kolby Smith, and fellow back Jamaal Charles had 106 yards on the ground.
Crucially, safety Tanard Jackson caused a Smith fumble within the Chiefs' 10 yard line, and recovered at the two-yard line. It was enough to swing the momentum of the game in the Bucs' favour, and despite Matt Bryant missing a field goal from 38 yards, Jeremy Trueblood's false start meant the Bucs would go again on third-and-ten, in which Jameel Cook made the necessary yards from a quick Garcia pass. Bryant did not miss a second time.
Garcia said, "You always talk about a letdown going into the bye week. Not to say that we didn't approach this game right, but Kansas City, I tip my hat off to them, how they came out and battled. They played good football for a majority of the game, but to come back and win this one, it's just going to be hopefully a huge momentum builder for ourselves. We have had a good first half of the season. Now we can heal up these next couple weeks, come back hungry and excited about what is to face in the second half of the season."
The 6-3 Buccaneers' season nearly slipped away from them. Tampa Bay had to win to stay in touch with division-leading Carolina, with their Monday Night Football clash on December 8th looking more and more decisive in the race for the play-offs.
Defensive end Kevin Carter said, "These kind of games give you strength, they give you confidence. Hopefully, we'll win enough games to look back and say, 'We got our momentum in Kansas City."
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