Week 4’s battle of two legendary quarterbacks didn’t disappoint on “Sunday Night Football,” but one signal caller left a lot happier than the other. While Tom Brady produced garish numbers to air it for the Buccaneers at home, Patrick Mahomes enjoyed a much easier evening for the Chiefs, taking Andy Reid’s creativity and some acrobatic red-zone haircuts down a 41-31 route from Tampa Bay drove. The Super Bowl LV rematch certainly showed offensive firepower, with the two teams pooling more than 700 yards, but all of the Bucs’ points came from behind as the home team chased the Reid’s Chiefs.
Here are some direct takeaways from Kansas City’s big prime-time win:
Why the Chiefs won
Reid’s offense was (almost literally) unstoppable. We have seen many explosive games from Mahomes and Co over the years. seen, but the road favorites had their way all night. Number 15 spread the ball around, hitting Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Travis Kelce early for splash plays, and again Reid’s creativity in the red zone was impeccable. Whether Mahomes was scrambling and making last-second spade passes into the back of the end zone or tight end Noah Gray who was bottom-center of the line, they couldn’t be denied in scoring range.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Isiah Pacheco also kept busy finding ground space, combining for more than 130 emergency yards. The Chiefs’ defense was relatively porous save for a strip bag from L’Jarius Sneed, and Mahomes gave the Bucs a late pick by luring one into double cover. But at that point, it didn’t matter much, with 41 points on the board and a forced first kick that set the tone in Kansas City’s favor from the start.
Why did the Buccaneers lose?
Todd Bowles’ defense had no answers for the best game-defining QB in football, yielding the most points of any Bowles-led unit in the coach’s career. Despite three sacks and a late pick from Sean Murphy-Bunting, their typically physical squad simply couldn’t hold the Chiefs in check for long, especially on the third downs and in the red zone. They also totally missed a ground game, with Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette non-factors, but that didn’t really matter in an instant, all night shootout.
No, the real killer, aside from their inability to stop KC, was turnover — White’s clumsy start and Brady’s clumsy attempt at a crude comic bag. Brady was otherwise in MVP form, looking to get the Bucs within reach several times and thread the needle to Mike Evans on a few clutch throws. In the end, their efforts were too little, too late and a bit too sloppy, with five penalties also getting in the way of their results.
You could easily pinpoint the kick-off that started the game, giving the Chiefs an instant bonus possession just outside the red zone. But Sneed’s hem off the rim to flip Brady upside down, forcing a fumble and slow TB12 up felt like the unofficial cap on the game. The Bucs were already down 21-10 as halftime approached, and the Bucs’ fumble there created a Chiefs TD drive to extend Kansas City’s lead to 18. Brady would look for Evans for his own score before the break, but the damage was already done.
Playing the game
Mahomes has been a magician since his historic first full-timer breakthrough, but even by his standards his second quarter (pitch? hurl? toss?) pass to Clyde Edwards-Helaire was absurd. The athleticism, concentration, and sheer grit it takes to not only try something like this, but succeed with ease is why Mahomes remains the NFL’s model playmaker in the position:
The Chiefs (3-1) return to Arrowhead Stadium for a Week 5 “Monday Night Football” game with the rival Raiders (1-3), who just scored their first win of the year by defeating the Broncos. The Buccaneers (2-2), meanwhile, remain in Tampa to play host to the Falcons (2-2), who beat the Browns in a close on Sunday.