Flooding the neutral zone
The Bucs' abysmal start Sunday included equal helpings of defensive self-infliction and offensive sluggishness. The defense was whistled for a neutral-zone infraction three times on the Chiefs' first two drives, and four times overall. One of them, on Ndamukong Suh, negated a Jordan Whitehead interception. Toss in Jason Pierre-Paul's controversial roughing-the-passer penalty on Patrick Mahomes (which negated a Sean Murphy-Bunting pick), and the result was one of the Bucs' most penalized games of the season.

They finished with eight penalties - three more than their total in the previous two games - for 57 yards after averaging 5.4 flags in their first 11 contests. "We know everybody's on a hurry count because we jump offsides a lot," outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett said. "We look like an undisciplined football team. ... I hate being undisciplined, but in order to get past that label, we've got to go out there and just watch the ball, move when the ball moves."

Donovan Smith goes distance on dinged-up ankle
He arrived Sunday at Raymond James Stadium with his injured left ankle encased in a protective boot. At that point, Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith suspected his work day might end before dusk. "He tried it out (during pregame) and told me, 'I can probably play a half,'" Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. "'I don't know if I'll finish the game but I'll give you a half.' And he played the whole game."

Perhaps more astounding than Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill's first-quarter backflip into the end zone was Smith's four-quarter backpedals, bursts and lateral shuffles on an ankle he dinged up early in the loss to the Rams only six nights before.

The injury kept Smith out of practice all week, leaving him questionable as Sunday dawned. His decision to wince his way through four quarters against the Super Bowl champs allowed the Bucs to feature their normal starting offensive line for the first time in nearly a month.

Left guard Ali Marpet, in concussion protocol since the Nov. 2 victory against the Giants, also was cleared and started. The unit gave up only one sack Sunday, though Marpet was whistled for holding twice. "(Smith) gutted it out," Arians said. "I know a lot of people want to tear on that guy; he's a heck of a football player for me. Ali, we didn't know (his status) until we got to (Saturday). At least he got to practice some. I was real proud of both those guys."

Joey Knight, Tampa Bay Times, published 30 November 2020