The question going into the second quarter of Sunday's highly anticipated Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Kansas City Chiefs game was whether Tyreek Hill would eclipse Flipper Anderson's NFL record of 336 receiving yards in a game.
The question in the fourth quarter was whether the Bucs could come back after looking down and out most of the game.
The answers in order: no and no.
In a game that looked like it was over after the first quarter, the Buccaneers showed some heart and fight in a 27-24 loss to the Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.
Hill finished the first quarter with seven catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and one could feel very bad for Tampa Bay's starting corner Carlton Davis, who was assigned the task of trying to stick with Hill.
For Tampa Bay to have had some semblance of a chance, the offense had to try and keep pace. But the Buccaneers' offense started where it left off in Monday night's loss to the Los Angeles Rams, only managing one first down in the first quarter, that coming on its opening drive.
And for any chance to get into the game after the first quarter, Tampa Bay had to play well on defense, taking pages out of the Las Vegas Raiders' playbook in an effort to stop Mahomes and Co.
Any positive play on defense by the Bucs was almost immediately met with large positive plays for the Chiefs, who dominated in all facets of the game in the first half.
One way the Bucs could get back into the game was to try and force a turnover or two, which they did as the Chiefs drove down the field, holding a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. At this point in the game, had the Chiefs scored, this story could have been written by halftime.
But Shaq Barrett made his presence felt on first and goal, sacking Mahomes, causing him to fumble, with Will Gholston recovering for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay finally got a drive going after the fumble, picking up first downs, with back-to-back big plays leading to the Bucs' first score.
On first and 10 from their own 34, Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski for 29 yards over the middle, a play we have seen many times over the years. On the next play, Brady swung a pass to Ronald Jones, who avoided a defender and scampered down the sideline for a 37-yard score. It looked as if the Bucs found some life.
That score came with 4:29 left in the half, and one got the sense that the Chiefs weren't yet done, especially with the amount of time left. And the Chiefs had a chance to grab another touchdown before the end of the half, but the Tampa pass rush forced Mahomes into three straight incompletions near the goal line. The Chiefs settled for a 29-yard Harrison Butker field goal for a 20-7 halftime lead.
Mahomes, at the half, was 25-for-33, 359 yards and two touchdown passes, both to Hill, who finished the half with eight catches for 210 yards. Both players were on track to break some long-standing records for passing and receiving.
It was Rob Gronkowski who put the team on his shoulders to start the second half. A tough catch over the middle for a first down, then a 48-yard reception down the right sideline set the Bucs up with a first and goal. This time, the Chiefs' defense stiffened, and held Tampa to a 26-yard Ryan Succop field goal that cut the Kansas City lead to 20-10.
After that score, Hill's third touchdown of the game also victimized Carlton Davis to cap a seven-play, 75-yard drive that at that point, and made it look as if the Bucs were done for the night.
But Tampa Bay still had some chances to try and get back in the game, but on back-to-back drives, Brady threw interceptions. The second pick was by Tyrann Mathieu on a Brady pass that deflected off a Chief's helmet.
The Chiefs could not get anything going after Hill's third touchdown, going three-and-out on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter. And the Bucs finally took advantage after the second punt, scoring on a 31-yard touchdown from Brady to Mike Evans on a fourth-and-three, closing the gap to 10.
Kansas City, though, is like a cat that plays with and tortures a mouse for a while before going for the kill, and that's what they tried to do after the Bucs' score, taking advantage of a major Tampa Bay miscue on a 3rd-and-17. Mahomes scrambled around and threw the ball up for grabs, being picked off by Sean Murphy-Bunting. However, on the play, Jason Pierre-Paul hit Mahomes in the head after Mahomes threw the ball, giving the Chiefs an extra set of downs.
But back-to-back holding calls knocked the Chiefs out of field-goal range, and the Chiels were forced to punt again. However, the drive lasted 6:23, knocking precious time off the clock.
Brady got the ball with 6:21 left, and Brady being Brady, Bucs fans were hoping for another one of his patented comebacks. The Bucs got some help on this drive, as Brady was hit in the head by Frank Clark after an incomplete pass, and Clark again roughed Brady after a completion to Chris Godwin, that put the ball inside the Chiefs' 10. And on the next play, the Bucs cut the Kansas City lead to three on a seven-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 4:10 remaining.
But the Chiefs were able to secure three first downs to run out the clock at the end of the game.
Mahomes finished 37 of 49 for 462 yards and three touchdowns, all to Hill, who ended up with 13 catches for 269 yards.
Brady was 27 of 41 for 345 yards, three touchdownsand two interceptions. Gronkowski led the team in receiving yards, with 106 yards on six catches, while Chris Godwin led the tBucs with eight catches for 97 yards.
Tampa Bay has a bye next week, and will return on Sunday, Dec. 13 to host the Minnesota Vikings. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Photos Courtesy: Getty Images