KANSAS CITY – No team has done a better job of taking the ball away this year than the Chiefs, who went into their game against the Buccaneers on Sunday ranked first in the league with a plus-14 turnover ratio.
But no team has done a better job of taking the ball away in recent weeks than the Bucs, who extended their streak in posting a 19-17 upset of the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
When Chris Conte intercepted Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the fourth quarter, it marked the 14th time in the last six games the Bucs have taken the ball away.
And what a key takeaway that was.
Conte’s return to the Bucs 48-yard line set the stage for a 3-yard Jameis Winston touchdown pass to rookie tight end Alan Cross for the points that sealed the Bucs fifth victory of the season.
The touchdown was the first in the NFL for Cross, a former walk-on at the University of Memphis and undrafted free agent who worked his way onto the Bucs roster during training camp.
Moving the ball wasn’t a problem for the Bucs in the first half. Moving it into the end zone was.
The Bucs converted six of their eight third downs on their way to racking up 231 yards in the first half but had to settle for field goals of 31, 22 and 41 yards from kicker Roberto Aguayo.
That allowed the Chiefs to take a 10-9 lead into the locker room at half, the lead coming largely as a result of one difficult series for the Bucs defense.
After forcing the Chiefs to go three and out on two straight series, the Bucs gave up a 42-yard pass and a 15-yard run to Spencer Ware out of the wildcat formation on the first four plays of their fourth drive of the game.
That drive then ended with quarterback Alex Smith running untouched into the end zone from 11 yards out to give the Chiefs a 10-3 lead that the Bucs cut back on with Aguayo’s 41-yard field goal in the final seconds.
It was more of the same at the start of the second half, the Bucs driving just far enough to take a 12-10 lead on a 36-yard Aguayo field goal with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.