It may only be the first preseason game, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are going to find it hard not to get excited about their team following their absolute dismantling of the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris should leave Arrowhead Stadium with a huge grin on his face, as his "youngry" team dominated all three sides of the game in a 25-0 rout of the reigning AFC West Champions on national television.
Quarterback Josh Freeman is starting to open eyes around the NFL and only contributed to his growing buzz this evening, as he completed nine of 13 passes for 73 yards, and added a rushing touchdown for good measure. True to his word, Raheem Morris let his first team offense stay in the game late into the second quarter, unlike Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, who gave starter Matt Cassel only two short series. Cassel would finish the game 2-for-3 for 10 yards while overseeing two drives that resulted in more turnovers than first downs.
Freeman responded to the extra reps looking crisp and efficient, moving the Buccaneers offense down the field and putting points on the board. But while Freeman may have been the one trending worldwide on Twitter, it was the Buccaneers defense that made the biggest impact on the game.
The Bucs stymied the Chiefs all evening long, not only holding them scoreless but also creating two turnovers and a safety, while constantly disrupting Kansas City passers. The Chiefs coughed up two fumbles in the first quarter alone, the first caused and recovered by Buccaneers rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster. Foster has been a hot topic in training camp, as many have questioned whether the talented rookie can replace the production level of departed veteran Barrett Ruud. Foster showed early that he can bring the lumber and has big play potential. Buccaneers defensive lineman Kyle Moore tallied two of Tampa Bay's five sacks on the evening.
Backup quarterback Josh Johnson put on a show after relieving Freeman in the second quarter, tallying 108 yards passing and a touchdown. Johnson would also finish as the teams leading rusher, with 57 yards on five scrambles. Dezmon Briscoe led all Buccaneers receivers with four catches for 60 yards, while kickoff return hero Micheal Spurlock hauled in two catches for 18 yards, including a touchdown from Johnson.
By the end of four quarters, the Buccaneers had held the Chiefs to only 137 total yards and just six first downs, while racking up 353 yards of offense on their own. Special teams also made an impact, as new free-agent acquistion punter Michael Koenen didn't allow the Chiefs any room to move the ball. Not a single Kansas City drive started on better than their own 20-yard line.
Most importantly, the Buccaneers appeared to have stayed healthy and avoided any major injuries in the first of four exhibition contests before the regular season kicks off against Detroit on September 11. The Bucs will head home to Tampa, where they will host the New England Patriots on Thursday, August 18 at Raymond James Stadium.