Hubert Mizell
To a television viewer of the 11 o'clock sports news in Missoula, the NFL score "Chiefs 28, Bucs 19" may have created visions of an offensive classic certain to headline Howard Cosell's halftime films.

Wrong, Missoula. It was, for most of the day, a sloppy non-classic. On a horror scale of, Kansas City was about an "8" and Tampa a "9." It was a match of the AFC's worst defense and worst offense. It lived up to all expectations.

Oh, the trick-or-treat Buccaneers offense did refuse to quit, scoring 19 points in fourth quarter to make the final score appear exciting at least for the Missoulas of the land. But don't get the idea it was a majestic thriller. Not even close.

"That's as poorly as you can play," said John McKay, coaching godfather of the defeated Buccos. Asked if an 0-14 season seemed more probable than ever, he said, "We're sure as hell working on it."

QUARTERBACK STEVE Spurrier had boo birds on his shoulders part of the cool, sunny Sunday at Tampa Stadium. And even though he did rally Tampa Bay for 19 points, one spectator decided to literally give him the bird after it ended. As Spurrier walked to the locker room, somebody hanging over a high railing dropped a dead bird, a sparrow I think, at the quarterback's feet. McKay, told of the late bird, forced a grin and said, "If it hadda been fresh, we would have eaten it,"

Tampa Bay's offense had a feeble 34 total yards after three periods. They had averaged a yard for each of 31 plays. In other words, if the Bucs had run seven straight plays, it would have been eighth down and three to go. It was that bad.

But the dirty tricks subsided. On came the treats, thanks in part to Kansas City's inefficiency. A blocked pass bounded to Bucs center Dan Ryczek for a "completion" to set up one touchdown. Spurrier got another score when his fourth down pass ricocheted off Chiefs linebacker Jim Lynch and into tight end Jack Novak surprised mitts.

WITH THOSE EXTRAS, the Bucs showed some battered courage in refusing to toss in the towel and allow tile game to become a 40-0 or 50-0 disgrace. McKay's son, Johnny, made two excellent clutch catches, too, on a day when last week's hero, Morris Owens, became a malfunctioning juggler.

Tampa Bay's defense wasn't great, but it continued to hold amazingly well considering the obstacles. "We gave up 18 points defensively to the top offensive club in the American Conference," said defensive end Pat Toomay, "so that isn't too rotten. It's just that stupid plays and the strangest things keep happening to us. I say my prayers, too, s0 why do we keep getting hit with head-slap penalties and assorted breaks like that?"

Asked if the Bucs had any chance of winning before this inaugural season ends, Toomay remarked, "The New York Jets are still on our schedule, aren't they?" Advised that the Jets had beaten Buffalo 19-14, Toomay then asked, "Did the (New York) Giants lose again?" Told that the winless Giants fell to Philadelphia 10-0, Toomay made the assessment, "Well, I'll say this, we're the best 0-8 team in football."

McKay's humor wasn't buried under the avalanche of misfires. A writer asked, "Well, coach, where do you go from here?" Without hesitation, McKay said "To Denver."

Denver on the road is next, then the Jets in New York. After that come Cleveland and Oakland and Pittsburgh and New England. The 0-14 chances are rich. Is winning the draft rights to Ricky Bell worth all this? I doubt any man in Buccaneer colors would say so.

“THIS IS PROBABLY our most disappointing day," McKay said. "After a good offensive effort against Miami last week (in a 23-20 defeat), we thought we could move on Kansas City. What could Steve (Spurrier) do? If I had thought it was his fault, I would have taken him out. We missed (fullback) Ed Williams' blocking and (tight end) Bobby Moore's all-around play, but chat is no excuse for such an effort. These guys are not underpaid. They should be expected to do better than that."

The Bucs can't even seem to handle extra points with any manner of consistency. Dave Green had one blocked, missed another, which could have greatly affected the Bucs' 11th hour comeback.

'”Our special teams were absolutely horrible," McKay said. "It's becoming a miracle to make an extra point." The special gang put a cherry on its misery sundae by allowing a Jan Stenerud kickoff to bounce freely down the field and be amazingly recovered by the Chiefs at the Tampa Bay four. "I've never seen anything like that before," McKay said, “I can't believe it. These guys are getting paid money. They should at least be able to fall on the football."

LOUIS CARTER was the main man receiving that kickoff. He said, "I could see it was a short kick and I couldn't catch it on the fly. I thought it would bounce right up to me. Typical Tampa luck, it didn't bounce."

McKay threatened to fire players who give what he believes to be a Black effort. "If I end up playing With 30 players, some won't be here if the effort isn't given," he said.

Toomey, bearded veteran from Dallas and Buffalo seasons past said the Bucs are not about to quit trying for Win No. 1. "Hell, it's still then" he said of the hope. "We'll get over this by Wednesday. And who knows, maybe my prayers will be answer one of these Sundays."