TAMPA, Fla. – It was too easy. Or at least that’s how it felt as Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and the Kansas City Chiefs ravaged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 27-24 victory Sunday evening.
The Week 12 matchup at Raymond James Stadium was supposed to be a potential Super Bowl preview, according to preseason projections.
The meeting featured Mahomes, the darling of the league, and his defending champion supporting cast against Tom Brady, the most decorated quarterback in league history, and his talented new compadres.
But instead of engaging their hosts in a hotly contested shootout, the Chiefs instead put on a clinic on cohesion, chemistry and pristine execution. Mahomes and his offense seemingly moved the ball at will. The quarterback passed for 462 yards and three touchdowns while completing more than 75% of his passes. And Hill was virtually unstoppable, catching 13 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bucs, meanwhile, again were reminded that a championship-caliber attack takes time, and they have a ways to go before they can contend with the likes of Kansas City.
The Chiefs improved to 10-1. Meanwhile Tampa Bay dropped to 7-5 after losing their second straight and third in the last four games.
Here are three things we learned in Sunday night:
1. The Chiefs are a well-oiled machine: The Chiefs continue to reap the benefits of continuity, chemistry and cohesion. The way that Mahomes is able to see and execute the game plan through the eyes of coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy enables Kansas City to continually build on their previous successes. They have their staple plays, but they’re always adding to them or expanding upon them.
Mahomes is so comfortable in the offense because it’s tailored to what he does best (which seems like everything), and he has such a strong feel for his teammates’ capabilities and how they react to coverages, which he can comfortably manipulate. This makes the Chiefs virtually unstoppable. A dropped pass here or a misfire there might slow them. And there was one goal-line sequence where the Bucs did a good job of generating pressure, forcing Mahomes to throw the ball away three straight plays. But only a limited number of unsuccessful Chiefs plays were a result of strong execution by Tampa Bay.
2. The Bucs are still tinkering: Tampa Bay has found cohesion and consistency hard to come by. It actually seems like things are getting worse for Brady and Co., as the quarterback had yet another multiple-interception game (his third in the last four outings), and third downs proved troublesome for a unit that converted just three of nine tries.
If the Chiefs’ offense looked like a well-oiled machine perfectly designed for their quarterback, Tampa Bay’s looked like the exact opposite. Brady rarely looked comfortable, and he and his teammates struggled to find a rhythm. Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich still seem to be struggling to figure out how to blend their playbook with what Brady does best. The Buccaneers thrived in spurts with with quick-hitters, out-routes and crossing patterns, as well as a few a deep shots to Rob Gronkowski. But they struggled to sustain this type of effectiveness. After each failed series, Brady returned to the bench and tried to sort things out with Leftwich. The answers eluded them Sunday night. Back to the drawing board they’ll go this week. A late charge made things interesting, but the two fourth-quarter Brady-to-Mike Evans touchdowns came too late.
3. Defensive adjustments needed: You can’t pin all of the blame on Tampa Bay’s offense. The Buccaneers’ defense also was found wanting on Sunday after giving up a season-high 543 yards and letting Mahomes and Hill torment them so. It took Hill’s 203-yard, two-touchdown first quarter for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to make adjustments to limit the speedy receiver’s production. But it was only temporary. The Bucs struggled to get pressure on Mahomes and surrendered far too many big plays. The unit did record a sack-fumble in the red zone to prevent a first-half touchdown, but the Bucs need more consistency on this side of the ball as well. Tampa Bay’s defense has now surrendered 400-plus yards in three of their last four games.