Generally by the end of the third quarter I have a solid idea how a Chiefs game will conclude. This Sunday, I had a sinking feeling once KC's offense struggled to gain first downs in the second half, especially when the officiating of Ed Hochuli's "Showtime" crew gave the Bucs a chance to win after wrongly flagging Tony Gonzalez for offensive pass interference. The penalty negated a one-handed catch that would have resulted in a game-clinching first down.
The Chiefs still had chances to change the outcome of the game, but it was a critical call from what has become the worst and most scrutinized officiating crew in the NFL. Hochuli's crew is determining the outcome of games by blowing calls. With that assistance, a veteran team like the Bucs guided by a wily quarterback in Jeff Garcia didn't need much else to take advantage.
Offensively, despite the fact the Chiefs lost backup running back Kolby Smith for the season with a knee injury, rookie Jamaal Charles had his first 100-yard rushing game. Tyler Thigpen also turned in another solid performance.
He continues to impress his teammates, including Gonzalez, who said after the game that his quarterback is surprising everyone. Thigpen didn't turn the ball over for the second consecutive week and his 37-yard touchdown catch from wide receiver Mark Bradley was a thing of beauty.
It should have been the back breaker but instead, after falling behind 24-3, the Bucs squeezed 10 points out of the Chiefs late in the second quarter, and that really set the table for a comeback.
Kansas City's coverage units were flat out terrible. This team needs a thumper/wedge buster. On Clifton Smith's 97-yard kickoff return, the entire right side of the coverage unit was running, at best, half speed down the field. The old man of the defense, safety Jon McGraw, nearly had Smith, but blew a tackle and that was all the Buccaneers needed to start their comeback.
There were plenty of positive signs for the Chiefs, but in the end they just couldn't make the plays down the stretch, especially on defense. Kansas City has no pass rush, and outside of signing Packers castoff Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, there won't be one the rest of the season.
Will we see another win the rest of the season? This Chiefs team will be hard-pressed to recover from this loss as the new losing streak hits four games, heading into an AFC West showdown on foreign turf in San Diego next week.
Four To Remember:
QB Tyler Thigpen - I've seen all I need to make him KC's permanent starter the rest of the season. There is some talk in the organization that Thigpen is playing above his abilities, but if he continues to make plays with his arm and take off when the pocket collapses, this football team will win games this season. But that doesn't change the need for a rookie quarterback next April. Right now the guy on the radar may not be too far away. Saturday, the Chiefs sent a slew of scouts to watch Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, who is leaning toward skipping his senior season.
CB Brandon Carr - He's the rebirth of Albert Lewis and he, along with fellow rookie Brandon Flowers, are going to be the bookend corners this franchise can build upon in the years to come. Carr was outstanding Sunday and when Flowers left with an injury, the Bucs steered clear of him, choosing instead to pick on Maurice Leggett.
RB Jamaal Charles - The future is now with the injury to Smith, but he's the spark plug this offense needs at running back. With reports that the Chiefs aren't making plans to put Larry Johnson back on the active roster, Charles and Dantrell Savage could form a solid one-two package the remainder of the season. But Charles, despite his fumble, brings something different to the backfield.
OC Chan Gailey - I ripped him last week for his conservative play-calling. This week he redeemed himself, and pulled one of the old trick plays out of the bag with the Bradley to Thigpen touchdown. Once again, though, needing a touchdown like he did a week ago, Gailey's play-calling came into question in the third quarter. With the Chiefs facing a third-and-one, knowing that he'd been averaging better than five yards a carry to that point, he spread the field and the Bucs dropped eight in coverage. Four extra points would have been the difference between victory and defeat.
Chiefs Blow Lead To Bucs, 30-27
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