TAMPA -- It was one of those games Greg Schiano promised would happen when he first yelled “toes on the line” shortly after taking over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last winter.
Schiano’s bull whipping tactics had come under scrutiny during the Bucs three-game losing streak.
Another loss and his preaching might have started to wear thin on the veterans, who suffered through a 4-12 season a year ago.
But on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, against the reeling Kansas City Chiefs, he could say I told you so.
The Buccaneers (2-3) managed only seven first half points, but exploded for 31 after intermission en route to a 38-10 victory, leaving Kansas City limping into its bye week at 1-5 with a beleaguered head coach in Romeo Crennel.
Better you than me, Schiano might be thinking.
“I thought in general just shutting down the run game that was the challenge. They came in as one of the best running teams in the National Football League,” Schiano said. “I thought the guys did an incredible job.... I think it was something like 2.7 yards per carry. If you can do that in the NFL, you have a chance to really play good defense.”
Brady Quinn, who hadn’t played in an NFL game since 2009, was at quarterback for the Chiefs and the Bucs exploited some of his rustiness.
But Kansas City was no slouch. Its biggest problem was 19 turnovers, the most in the NFL.
Running back Jamaal Charles came into the game as the NLF’s leading rusher averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He was held to a 40 yards on 12 carries. The Chiefs, who were second in rushing, were held to 80 yards on the ground.
“Tampa Bay had a great game plan on trying to stop our run. They were coming for some of them,” Charles said. “We feel like if we would have stayed in the game plan, we would have gotten a better chance to win.”
It was the second straight game the Kansas City offense failed to dent the end zone. The Chiefs only touchdown came on a fumble recovery following a blocked punt in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs played great defense last week in losing 9-7 to the Ravens. They did for the first half against the Bucs until Josh Freeman started hooking up with his receivers and Ronde Barber provided a big spark with a 78-yard interception for a touchdown.
Tampa Bay got a leaping acrobatic catch that Mike Williams turned into a 62-yard touchdown in the first quarter. For the rest of the half Freeman misfired and couldn’t see open receivers.
But Tampa Bay’s defense made up for its anemic offense holding Kansas City to 40 yards rushing and 123 total yards from scrimmage and three points in the first half. It also put the clamps on Charles, who gained eight yards on seven carries in the first two quarters.
It did it without starting cornerback Aqib Talib, who was sitting out the first of a four game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs.
“Everybody communicated, everybody was on the same page. Everybody did their job and when we execute we can play like that,” said rookie safety Mark Barron who recorded his first career interception after Kansas City had reached the Tampa Bay 16 in the first quarter.
“With the talent on this team, I feel we can lose a guy and will be fine,” Barron said. “We knew E.J. (Biggers) would come in and make plays. It was a big win. You can call this a statement game, but if it’s up to me I would call it a confidence booster.”
Thanks to a trio of receivers, who made circus catches and tacked on huge chunks of yardage after the catch, Freeman’s confidence must be soaring.
Williams caught four passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, Vincent Jackson hauled in two touchdown catches and had four receptions for 66 yards. Tiquan Underwood added two receptions for 68 yards.
“We are going to take our shots every week when we get a one on one matchup,” Jackson said. “We always talk about being aggressive and going for the ball. We might not get everyone, but we will get our share.
“What we did today is going to be routine for us. We are going to keep defenses honest because as soon as teams want to help their defensive backs we will take advantage of that with our offensive line and run the ball.”
Jackson hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass on the Bucs first possession of the second half, a drive which saw Freeman complete three straight passes, including a 39-yarder to Jackson.
On Kansas City’s ensuing possession Barber picked off a pass that deflected off of Dexter McCluster and Biggers just before it hit the ground and returned it for his ninth career interception.
“I was covering the slant and EJ made a great play. He has assisted on a couple of my interceptions through the years,” Barber said. “Give him more credit than me. Running after the catch was easy. It was a good win, but we are not trying to make a statement. We play them one week at a time.”
The Chiefs added a touchdown on a fumble return and the Bucs responded with a 27-yard field goal by Connor Barth, who saw his streak of 25 straight field goals end in the first half when an attempt from 50 yards out hit the crossbar.
The Bucs got a 17-yard touchdown reception from Jackson that capped a five play, 85 yard drive that saw Doug Martin pick up 38 yards on three carries. The final score came on a 12-yard run by LeGarrette
Blount, who finished with 58 yards on seven carries.
“It was a big day for our offense and for our team to get back on track. For Josh especially; I thought he kept his cool throughout the game when things didn’t go well,” Schiano said. “So not only throwing the ball, but it’s the hidden stuff that I think he’s really growing in and becoming a complete quarterback. It’s a slow process, but he’s getting better.”