In what we all said was another in a long line of missed opportunities the Chiefs showed their steady play the last two weeks couldn't solve the Bucs offense. This game was lost in the first quarter when Eddie Kennison running free to the end zone had the ball knocked out of his hands when the game was tied at 7-7. The Bucs recovered the ball and scored on the next drive and that seemed to be the one break that gave the Tampa Bay defense confidence that in crunch time; they could stop the Chiefs offense.
In the fourth quarter, they did just that as they came back on three separate occasions to regain the lead after the Chiefs moved out on front. The game started well for the Chiefs as they took the opening drive and rammed it down the Tampa Bay defense. Trent Green who threw three touchdowns on the day, hit Johnnie Morton on a picture perfect 25-yard touchdown pass giving the Chiefs there largest lead of the day.
But the Chiefs defense was not up to the task early as the Bucs came right back behind the riffle arm of Brian Griese. The former Bronco tormented the Chiefs all day long. He hit fullback Jameel Cook on a perfectly executed bootleg that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown pass tying the score.
On the next possession, Kennison's fumble started a trend that would haunt the Chiefs all day long. After that play, Griese went back to work carving up the Chiefs secondary. Running back Michael Pittman ended the drive with a 1-yard scoring drive on fourth and goal. That gave the Bucs a 14-7 lead.
Kansas City came back as Priest Holmes tied the score with a 2-yard touchdown run that seemed to rejuvenate the Chiefs. They knew they should have had a seven point lead after Holmes touchdown. But that wasn't the case.
Finally the defense stopped the Bucs offense but the Kansas City offense failed to take advantage. Facing a critical third down, Green overthrew Tony Gonzalez and they were forced to kick a 31-yard field goal that gave the Chiefs a 17-14 lead.
That field goal seemed to deflate the Chiefs because they knew that their own defense was not going to be fooling anyone on Sunday. Griese went back to work and found tight end Ken Dilger with less than two minutes in the first half helped Tampa Bay take a 21-17 lead but it wouldn't last as the Chiefs offense went back to work.
Trent Green went five for five on a drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez with only thirty seconds remaining. Gonzalez went high in the air to snatch the ball and roll into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown and a 24-21 lead. The Bucs failed on a last second field goal.
Still the Chiefs had to feel lucky leading by three points at halftime. But the Bucs took the ball first in the second half and were pinned back into their own territory. However Michael Pittman busted open a long run and was virtually untouched as he rambled 78-yards into the end zone.
On the play safety Jerome Woods took the wrong angle and so did Greg Wesley. That resulted in Pittman busting open his big run. The defense all day long in fact was horrible. They couldn't cover anyone and they played so far back on the Bucs receivers that it made it difficult to stop them. It was a poor executed game plan by Gunther Cunningham.
Still the Chiefs after failing to move the ball, found the courage to regain the lead. After Priest Holmes left the game with an injury, Green worked the ball down to the one yard line and on third down he hit tight end Jason Dunn on a bootleg pass. That gave Kansas City a 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter.
But the defense couldn't stop the combination of Pittman and Griese. This time they held the ball for nearly five and half minutes as Pittman scored his second touchdown of the day giving Tampa Bay a 34-31 lead. It would be a margin they'd never give up.
Though the Chiefs were able to get the ball back two times in the last five minutes; Green threw his second interception of the game that was a precursor to doom. Still Kansas City had one last chance but the offense line collapsed under the pressure and the Chiefs gave the ball on downs after they moved into Bucs territory.
Now Kansas City faces extinction for the 2004 season where they virtually have to run the table to even have a shot at the post season. In all five of the Chiefs losses this season; they've beat themselves and today was no different.
It might be time to start looking to next year because one more loss and the season of hope and Super Bowl dreams will be all but wishful thinking.