It was the one blemish on a well-rounded victory by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Tampa Bay's 38-10 rout of the Chiefs was marred by a special-teams breakdown early in the fourth quarter that helped Kansas City pull within 11 points. Michael Koenen's punt from deep in his own territory was blocked by Kansas City running back Shaun Draughn, who raced in untouched down the middle.
Koenen picked the ball up on the run and tried to throw a pass as he was being dragged down by Draughn. The ball fluttered into the arms of Edgar Jones, who ran it back 11 yards for a touchdown.
The play was ruled a fumble rather than an interception because NFL rules prohibit a ball being advanced through the air after a blocked punt.
"I never saw him (Droughn) coming,'' Koenen said Monday. "We were on our own 18, so I had more than enough room to punt it out. Once they block it, the only thing I'm trying to do is find the ball. I was trying to throw it out of bounds, but I knew the guy was on me. I'm just glad that play didn't make a difference in the game. Getting a punt blocked isn't something I really think about. I trust my guys to block.''
From his unique vantage point, long snapper Andrew Economos saw Koenen maintain his poise in a stressful situation.
"You never want to hear that double thump,'' Economos said. "That's the thud of Mike hitting the ball and the guy blocking the kick. Mike did an amazing job of picking up the ball. I was kind of amazed. Blocked punts don't happen to us very often around here.''
Back to work
Second-year DE Da'Quan Bowers is slated to return to the practice field Wednesday, five months after tearing an Achilles tendon in the offseason.
Once Bowers practices, the Bucs have three weeks to decide whether to elevate him to the 53-man active roster or put him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
"We'll do some stuff the rest of this week and we'll observe each day,'' Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "With situations like this, you really have to play it by ear. It's how he responds to an increased workload. He's done an incredible job with his rehab. If there's any question, we're not going to put him in harm's way.''
Bowers, a second-round pick out of Clemson in 2011, started the final six games of his rookie season at left end.
Pro Bowl G Carl Nicks circled this upcoming game against the Saints on his personal calendar after signing with the Bucs as a free agent in March. In four seasons with New Orleans, Nicks won a Super Bowl ring while establishing himself as one of the NFL's premier offensive lineman.
"It might be a little weird Sunday, but I'm excited,'' Nicks said. "To be honest, I want to get after them. I don't have any ill will toward them, but that's my old team.''
After keeping Saints QB Drew Brees upright for years, Nicks will get to see him in action from the Tampa Bay sideline.
"He gets the ball off quick, so I doubt you'll see much of that (sacks) throughout the year,'' Nicks said. "The best way to beat the Saints? Run the ball and keep Drew off the field.''
Tampa Bay will wear throwback uniforms in Sunday's game. …The Bucs have outscored opponents 120-101 on the season. …Tampa Bay is limiting opponents to an NFL-low 3.1 yards per rushing attempt, well below the league average of 4.2. …A year after setting an NFL record by hitting on 71.2 percent of his pass attempts, Brees is completing only 58.9 percent of his throws. …In helping New Orleans beat San Diego before the bye week, Brees broke Johnny Unitas' long-standing NFL record by throwing at least one TD pass in his 48th consecutive game.