TAMPA, FLA (WFLA)- Forgive Dirk Koetter if he’s a little uneasy. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach has seen teams surge in the latter parts of seasons. He’s seen teams struggle to the finish line. So, after a stunning 19-17 victory over the (then) AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs, on Sunday, Koetter is not quite ready to publicly pronounce his team a playoff contender.
During Monday’s ‘Koetter’s Korner’ exclusive inteview, the Bucs coach explained his philosophy on moving forward following the big win. Koetter says he’s learned in just more than a year that the Bucs are a team that cannot afford to look past its next opponent. He may be right. On Sunday, the Bucs host the Seattle Seahawks, who are running away in the NFC West race, with a 7-2 record.
The Bucs were 3-5 at the midway point of the season before posting back to back wins to climb back to within one game of the NFC South leading Atlanta Falcons. Now at 5-5, the haul is not easy. After the Seahawks visit Raymond James Stadium, on Sunday, another west coast trip follows (San Diego) before games against the improved Saints, the 9-1 Cowboys, then the Saints again.
The Bucs have become one of the NFL’s “Road Warrior” teams, improving their record, away from Raymond James, to 4-1. Against the Chiefs, the offense stayed on the field, converting 11 of 16 3rd downs, driving deep enough into Kansas City territory to leave kicker, Roberto Aguyao, with very managable attempts. Aguayo finished the day a perfect 4 for 4 on field goal attempts and converted his lone extra point attempt.
The turning point in the game led to an exclamation point when Bucs safety, Chris Conte, intercepted Chiefs quarterback, Alex Smith, in the end zone as Kansas City was close to taking the lead in the 4th quarter, either by field goal or touchdown. Conte returned the ball to the Bucs 48 yard line, setting up the offense’s lone touchdown of the game. Quarterback Jameis Winston converted three 3rd down attempts on the drive. The final one to tight end, Alan Cross, who tumbled into the end zone for the game clinching score.