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Chiefs 27, Buccaneers 24

Tom Brady and Buccaneers make it close, but fall short in a loss to Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers trailed, 20-7, at halftime.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers trailed, 20-7, at halftime.Mike Ehrmann/Getty

TAMPA — When Tyreek Hill draws single coverage, Patrick Mahomes is going to find a way to get the ball to the Kansas City Chiefs’ most explosive receiver.

Mahomes threw for 462 yards, including touchdowns of 75, 44, and 20 yards to Hill, who finished with 13 catches for 269 yards in the reigning Super Bowl champions’ 27-24 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

“It feels good, you know, but I feel like there’s still a lot of work for me to do,” Hill said after going over 1,000 yards for the season.

“I’m always trying to get better, got to be consistent with what you do,” Hill added. “Those same people showing you love this week, you make a bad play next week, they’re going to hate you.”

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Mahomes outplayed Tom Brady to win the fourth career matchup between the MVPs, completing 37 of 49 passes and holding the ball for more than 10 minutes without scoring on Kansas City’s last two possessions to put the game away.

The Bucs’ loss comes on the heels of home defeats to New Orleans and the Los Angeles Rams, games in which Brady played poorly and left his new team searching for answers about the offense’s inconsistency.

Brady isn’t listening to critics who feel the Bucs aren’t tailoring their scheme to what he’s done best during his career.

“Just external noise. When you’re losing, that’s what you deal with,” Brady said. “I love playing with the guys, and the whole organization is unbelievable. I’ve just got to do a better job in the final four games.”

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady talks to tackle Tristan Wirfs and other members of the offense on the bench.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady talks to tackle Tristan Wirfs and other members of the offense on the bench. Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

While the Bucs (7-5) still are in good shape to make the playoffs as a wild card, they’re living dangerously.

“I think football is so much about being in that rhythm and staying in rhythm and finding your rhythm,” Brady said. “I think as we keep going forward, we are learning more and more about ourselves, about what we need to do. Going to get back to work and try and do a lot better of a job the last quarter of the season.”

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Hill benefited from Sammy Watkins’s return to the Chiefs lineup after being sidelined since Week 5 with a hamstring injury, and got the best of a matchup with Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis, who often had no help trying to contain the speedy receiver.

“We don’t get that a lot, especially with that guy and his ability,” Mahomes said. “So when we do, we try to take advantage of it.”

Hill had seven catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone, joining Qadry Ismail (210 in the third quarter on Dec. 12, 1999) and Lee Evans (205 in the first quarter on Nov. 19, 2006) as the only NFL receivers since 1980 to have 200 yards in receptions in a single quarter.

The fifth-year pro’s last catch — an 8-yarder on third and 7 in the final minute — gave Mahomes an opportunity to run out the clock.

“The last one, I learned a long time ago, you don’t give Tom Brady another shot,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “That’s why he’s the G.O.A.T. So, don’t give them the ball back. That was the mind-set there.”

The Chiefs (10-1) won their sixth straight game and clinched their seventh 10-win season in eight years under Reid. The defending champs improved to 6-0 on the road and have won nine straight away from home going back to last year.

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“Very, very few guys that I’ve seen in this league or any league that can backpedal 8, 9, 10, 11 yards in the pocket and throw a dime 25 yards down the field,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said of Mahomes. “And he can read the defense as he does it. That makes him more explosive.”

Brady was 27 of 41 for 345 yards, three touchdowns, and a pair of second-half interceptions in falling to 2-2 against Mahomes, who built an early 17-0 lead and also had the Chiefs up by 17 entering the fourth quarter.

The Bucs made it close, with Brady throwing TD passes of 31 and 7 yards to Mike Evans, the latter trimming his team’s deficit deficit to 27-24 with 4:10 remaining.

Tampa Bay never got the ball back.

And their problems with slow starts continued.

Tampa Bay, which has been outscored, 52-7, in the first quarter of the past four games, managed one first down on its first four drives. Brady was 0 for 3 on third downs during that stretch.

“We just missed third downs,” Arians said. “We had very manageable third downs. They did a good job in their blitz package and we didn’t execute on our end. Most of [the third downs] have been seven yards or less, where we’ve been good all season.”

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The Chiefs led, 20-7, at halftime. The Bucs were fortunate they weren’t in a bigger hole.

Kansas City ran 42 plays to Tampa Bay’s 22 in the first two quarters, outgaining the Bucs, 377 yards to 131, with Mahomes throwing for 359 yards and Brady 117.

Three drives inside the Bucs’ 20, however, only netted a pair of short field goals. Shaquil Barrett sacked Mahomes, forcing a fumble that William Gholston recovered at the 14 with the Chiefs looking to build on a 17-0 lead.

Bashaud Breeland and Tyrann Mathieu picked off Brady. The Chiefs hurt themselves with a pair of roughing the passer penalties on the 10-play, 73-yard drive the six-time Super Bowl champion put together to close the gap to 3 points.

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