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Taking care of the football will be key for Buccaneers versus Chiefs

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One of the reasons the Tampa Bay Bucs beat the Chicago Bears was takeaways.

Now in come the Kansas City Chiefs, who excel at that part of the game.

Kansas City leads the league in takeaways with 22, and in the takeaway-giveaway stats with plus-14. That means the Bucs will have to concentrate on not giving it away on Sunday.

“When you watch the tape on these guys, especially their red zone tape, wow,” said Bucs’ Coach Dirk Koetter. “Inside the 20, they really close it down on you. They’re very aggressive with their hands, they get a lot of balls that they get popped up in the air, somebody else might catch it.

“All four of their DBs, their one safety, No. 38 (Ron Parker), covers like a corner, used to be a corner. (Eric) Berry, the other safety, covers like a corner. Their corners cover like corners. (Marcus) Peters really makes plays on the football and it’s almost like they have four wide receivers back there that are also tough tacklers. So, these guys are impressive. What they did to get Carolina last week, to come from behind, not even score a touchdown on offense and really their defense — the pick-six by Berry and then the turnover at the end where Peters pulled it out of the hands, there’s a lot of impressive plays on their tape.”

The Bucs had five takeaways against the Bears Sunday in an easy win.

“You discuss that every week, of what wins. The No. 1 way you win and lose is protecting the football,” Bucs’ offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “And we at one point were I think a minus-nine five weeks ago and now we’re even. I would’ve never guessed we’d gotten ourselves to even that fast. But, you can see how it flips the game. Last week, all the turnovers that we created, we didn’t turn it over and then the one time we did, we got it right back with a turnover. So, we’ve proven that — that if we don’t turn the ball over, it gives us a chance to win. They’re really good at it because they’ve got really good defensive players.

“I think that’s first and foremost. They’re disruptive up front, which puts a quarterback at risk, not only in the pocket, but then throws down the field. And then they’ve got guys on the back end that really do a great job of taking the ball away, stripping it and challenging the receivers.”

So far this season, the Chiefs have 13 interceptions and nine fumbles recovered.

The Bucs have practiced with crowd noise being piped in to prepare to play in Arrowhead Stadium.

Said Monken: “It’s challenging, but every road game is challenging. It changes your routine and a lot these guys played big-time college football — they’ve been through it. I think you hit it on the head: it’s about communication, it’s about us being on the same page and stacking plays together with us doing the right stuff.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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