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Buccaneers impress in debut, defeat Chiefs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —  Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked like they were ready for the regular season to start Friday night.

The Kansas City Chiefs appeared to forget the lockout is over.

Freeman was smooth and efficient while leading Tampa Bay to points on three of the four series he played, and the third-year quarterback helped the Buccaneers take advantage of every bobble and blunder that the Chiefs made in a 25-0 preseason victory.

Freeman was 9 of 13 for 73 yards while playing for the first time at Arrowhead Stadium, just a few miles from where he grew into a high school star. He also ran five yards for a score.

The game figured to be sloppy after the NFL lockout wiped away the offseason. Teams have only been together for about two weeks, and veteran free agents couldn't even practice until last Thursday because of new language in the collective bargaining agreement.

Kansas City had barely worked out in pads, and coach Todd Haley decided not to scrimmage during camp, wary that too much hitting too early might result in unnecessary injuries.

It wasn't much surprise that the Chiefs looked unprepared.

Quinten Lawrence made a poor decision to bring the opening kickoff out of the endzone, getting wrestled down at the 8. The Chiefs went three-and-out on their first possession, fumbled on their next two, and watched backup quarterback Tyler Palko get sacked for a safety on another.

Freeman needed only two plays to turn the first fumble into a touchdown, then led Tampa Bay on an eight-play drive that Connor Barth capped with a 25-yard field goal.

Barth added another field goal later in the half before Palko's safety made it 15-0.

Things didn't improve for Kansas City in the second half.

Tampa Bay marched right down field against the Chiefs' backups, putting together a nine-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard pass from Josh Johnson to Michael Spurlock and a 22-0 lead.

Backup kicker Jacob Rogers added a 46-yard field goal early in the fourth.

Freeman is trying to build on a breakout season in which he threw for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns. The tall, strong-armed quarterback has looked sharp all camp, and he certainly carried the momentum right into his first preseason game. Freeman checked off when warranted, eluded a feeble Kansas City pass rush when necessary, and deftly managed the offense when he was in the game.

Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris planned to play his starters about 20 plays, so Freeman was done early in the second quarter. But that didn't stop the Bucs from churning out offense.

Johnson looked like Michael Vick against the Chiefs' backups, completing 7 of 12 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Tampa Bay's backup QB also scrambled five times for 57 yards, showing a lot of open-field elusiveness and causing the Kansas City defense fits.

Just about the only positive for the Chiefs was that none of the starters got hurt.

They didn't have much chance.

Cassel was on the field for four plays and didn't throw a pass. Running back Jamaal Charles, who ran for 1,467 yards a year ago, didn't have a carry. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe didn't make a catch.

Defensive end Tamba Hali, the Chiefs' franchise player who signed to a five-year, $60 million contract during training camp, looked awfully good standing on the sideline. He was among several players for both teams who did little more than dress for the game.

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

 

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