<
>

Pittman scores three TDs as Bucs outscore Chiefs

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- All week long, Jon Gruden kept telling his
offense it could keep pace with the high-scoring Kansas City
Chiefs.

It turns out the Tampa Bay coach was right.

"Nobody was talking about us as an offense. It was just Kansas
City's offense vs. our defense," running back Michael Pittman said
after the Buccaneers held off the potent Chiefs 34-31 Sunday.

Pittman scored three touchdowns, including one on a team-record
78-yard run, to give the Bucs (3-5) consecutive victories for just
the second time since they won the Super Bowl two years ago.

"Coach told us to keep quiet and just go in there and do what
we've got to do and show everybody we're for real, too," Pittman
said.

The Chiefs (3-5) totaled 101 points and 1,130 yards in victories
over Atlanta and Indianapolis the previous two weeks, and put up
another big day statistically despite playing much of the second
half without star running back Priest Holmes.

Trent Green threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns, but was
intercepted by Jermaine Phillips in the end zone with under six
minutes to go. Green was sacked on consecutive plays to end Kansas
City's last threat near midfield.

Holmes scored his 14th rushing TD of the season on a 2-yard run,
but was on the sideline when the Bucs defense put the clamps on Kansas
City's last two drives. Holmes said he was hit on the right knee
during the third quarter, but doesn't believe the injury is
serious.

"The best thing to do is wait, sit out the rest of that game
and then put a brace on it and see how well I do as far as it
tightening up over the next couple of days," said Holmes, who
gained 282 yards and scored seven TDs against the Falcons and
Colts.

The All-Pro finished with 59 yards on 16 carries and was
replaced by Larry Johnson, who wasn't nearly as effective in
gaining 21 yards on 10 carries.

"It was a huge loss. There's just so much he can do," said
Green, who completed 32 of 42 passes and was intercepted twice.

But Tampa Bay showed it could play offense, too, despite
entering the game ranked 28th in scoring (15.6 points) and 24th in
total offense (291.7 yards).

Brian Griese threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns, completing
22 of 34 passes to pace a 418-yard attack.

Pittman topped 100 yards rushing for the second straight game,
finishing with 128 on 15 carries. He scored on a 1-yard run in the
first quarter, then broke his 78-yarder on the second play of the
third quarter to wipe out a 24-21 halftime deficit.

Pittman's third TD, on a 3-yard run, put Tampa Bay ahead for
good with 11:50 left in the fourth quarter.

"Gruden gave us different formations, moving guys around,"
Chiefs safety Jerome Woods said. "A couple of times out there, I
can honestly say we were lost."

Green threw TD passes of 25 yards to Johnnie Morton, 23 yards to
Tony Gonzalez and 1 yard to Jason Dunn.

Gonzalez had nine catches for 123 yards and set up Green's TD
pass to Dunn for a 31-28 lead with a 29-yard reception to the Bucs
1. Eddie Kennison had six receptions for 104 yards, but lost a key
fumble in the second quarter.

"When you turn the ball over three times, it makes it very,
very tough," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said.

"You give up 34 points, you're not going forward," he said.
"That big run, there's no excuse for that."

Kansas City scored on four of five possessions in the first half
and would have gotten into the end zone on the fifth if Dwight
Smith hadn't made a TD-saving tackle to force Kennison to fumble
after a 59-yard catch and run to the Tampa Bay 11.

The loose ball rolled 3 yards into the end zone before
cornerback Brian Kelly scooped it up and returned it 32 yards to
the 29.

The Chiefs gained 590 yards in their 45-35 victory over
Indianapolis, but also gave up 505.

The Bucs won for the third time in four games after an 0-4 start
and feel they've turned their season around.

"A champion never dies," Gruden said.

"You are going to be behind on a scoreboard. You're going to be
behind in the standings, but you are relentless and you will always
rise. That's what we're going to do."

Game notes
The Chiefs lost LB Shawn Barber with a left knee sprain in
the first half. ... Tampa Bay DT Anthony McFarland left the game in
the second quarter with a left shoulder strain and did not return.
... Bucs C John Wade hurt his left knee on his team's first play,
and WR Joey Galloway left with strained hip in the fourth quarter.
... Bucs WR Tim Brown was held without a catch, ending the
third-longest receptions streak in NFL history at 179 games.