Ron Martz
Masquerading as professional football players for three quarters, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers whipped off their disguises to score three last-period touchdowns with an assortment of beastly ploys that left the Kansas City Chiefs relieved to have escaped Tampa Stadium with a 28-19 victory Sunday afternoon.

Behind 20-0 and possessors of just two first downs and 34 total yards going into the last 15 minutes of the game, the Bucs used two tipped passes to produce touchdowns and turn what had been an absolutely awful game into one that was merely terrible.

"It's as poor as we could play, Bucs' Head Coach John McKay said of his 0-8 costumed crusaders, who played like ghosts of the team that had given the Miami Dolphins fits the previous weekend in a 23-20 loss. "I thought we were absolutely horrible and that's the nicest thing I can say. If this is how we're going to play I can assure you, there are some people who won't be here long. I'll play with 30 people if I have to. You've got to try harder than that."

A HALLOWEEN afternoon crowd of 41.779 began leaving Tampa Stadium midway through the third period when Kansas City's Walter White grabbed two-yard touchdown pass from Mike Livingston to give the Chiefs a 20-0 lead. Earlier in that period Livingston hit Billy Masters with a two-yard scoring toss, following first half Jan Stenerud field goals of 42 and 32 yards.

But the Bucs, who gained 25 of their 34 total yards in the first three periods on the last two plays of the third quarter, started quickly in the fourth quarter. On a first down from his own 42, quarterback Steve Spurrier audibilized and the resulting pass play was good for 38 yards over the middle to Essex Johnson to the Chiefs' 20-yard line. A holding call against the Chiefs, a five-yard run by rookie fullback Jimmy DuBose, an 8 pass to Morris Owens that he dropped in the end zone and a one-yard run by DuBose produced a fourth and four from the nine yard line for the Bucs.

Instead of going for the field goal, the Bucs went for the touchdown. Spurrier dropped back to pass but his throw caromed off the hands of defensive end John Lohmeyer. Center Dan Ryczek somehow came up with the ball and plowed his way to a first down at the four. Two plays later Spurrier hit a diving Johnny McKay in the end zone for an eight-yard score. The kick was blocked and it was 20-6.

The Bucs got a quick opportunity to narrow the gap when Curtis Jordan intercepted a Livingston pass two plays after the ensuing kickoff at the Kansas City 44-yard line, But Rod McNeill fumbled a Spurrier pass, the Chiefs recovered and quickly moved 52 yards in five plays for the score, MacArthur Lane did the honors from two yards out, making it 26-6.

THE BUCS CAME back quickly, making use of passes to backs out of the backfield, Spurrier hit Johnson for 11 on one play, then lofted a long one to McKay that carried 38 yards to the Kansas City two-yard line. Two plays later Johnson went over from the one. 'The extra point attempt by Dave Green was wide right, making it 26-12.

An onside kick, recovered by the Bucs' McNeill, resulted in another score for the Bucs. With a fourth and 10 from the Chiefs' 30-yard line, Spurrier threw across the middle to tight end' Jack Novak. Linebacker Jim Lynch let the ball slip out of his hands and into Novak's and he skipped into the end zone for the touchdown. Green's extra point made it 26-19 and it looked if the Bucs, after playing what could be their three worst quarters of offensive football this season, had chance to at least tie the game.

Kansas City aided the Bucs in that regard, getting the ball with 2:05 to play and turning it back 20 seconds later following two incomplete passes and one running attempt. But an intentional grounding call on Spurrier, a loss of 16 yards on Owens' attempted end-around and a sack of Spurrier for a safety gave the Chiefs their 28-19 victory. "I never thought two points would mean so much," Chiefs' Coach Paul Wiggin said after his team improved its record to 3-5.

THOSE TWO POINTS probably would not have been necessary had the Chiefs, the leading offensive club in the American Football Conference, been able to take advantage of the opportunities they were presented earlier in the game. Starting with first downs inside the 20-yard line twice, the Chiefs were limited to two field goals. Stenerud also had one field goal blocked and he missed one.

In addition, the Chiefs had the ball on the Bucs' five-yard line following what amounted to a 55-yard onsides kick when Louis Carter misplayed a kickoff and it was recovered by Steve Taylor. But Lane fumbled it away at the goal line.

But on one Kansas City touchdown, the Chiefs were able to start at the two-yard line because of a 48-yard punt return by Larry Brunson. The following play Livingston, who finished the day 17 of 30 for 183 yards, hit Masters for the two-yard score that made it 20-0. At that point the Bucs pulled off their disguises. But what was underneath those disguises was not the football team it was a week ago.