LB Barrett Ruud's acrobatic interception in the end zone helped the Bucs keep Chicago without a touchdown in the first half
A pair of turnovers – including an interception return for a touchdown by DE Gaines Adams – and a stiff red zone performance keyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense as the unit led the team to a 14-9 halftime edge over the Chicago Bears.
Things got off to an inauspicious start for the Bucs, however. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Bucs proceeded to be flagged for a 15-yard penalty, burn a timeout and then throw an interception, all within the first moments of the game. The Tampa Bay defense held firm after the Bears took over with great field position, however, limiting Chicago to a field goal and only a 3-0 lead early on in the contest.
Gould stretched the lead to 6-0 on a 43-yarder later in the first quarter after the Bucs stalled on offense again. QB Kyle Orton moved the Bears 52 yards down the field in 10 plays to set up the try, with RB Matt Forte making some nice runs on the drive.
WR Ike Hilliard continued to be the Bucs' most productive player in the clutch, going down low on third-and-goal to catch a four-yard touchdown pass from QB Brian Griese, giving the Bucs a 7-0 lead after K Matt Bryant's extra point. It was the first touchdown the Bears had given up in the first half on the year.
WR Maurice Stovall fumbled after catching a Griese pass and LB Brian Urlacher recovered, but LB Barrett Ruud gave the Bucs the ball right back two plays later. Ruud was covering Forte in the end zone and had his back turned to the ball, but made an outstanding play to snag the ball inches from the turf for an interception after it bounced off Forte's hands.
The Bucs' defense came up big again in the second quarter as Adams snagged an errant throw from Orton and rumbled 45 yards for a score. Adams dove near the sideline, reaching out for the goal line as he sailed out of bounds. He was initially ruled out at the one-yard line, but the Bucs threw the red flag and after review, Adams was credited with the score. It was Adams' first career interception.
Gould later tacked on his third field goal of the half as time expired in the second quarter, cutting the Bucs' lead to 14-9.
In addition to the two interceptions and defensive score, the Bucs' defense was stout overall. A fake punt kept the Bears' last drive of the half alive, but the Tampa Bay defensive unit kept the Bears out of the end zone for the entire half, limiting Chicago to the three Gould field goals. For the half, the Bears actually outgained the Bucs 146 to 108, but the Tampa Bay defense held up when it counted.
- Chicago won the toss and elected to defer, so the Bucs chose to receive the opening kickoff. WR Dexter Jackson fielded the kick and cut left, but tripped and fell at the Bucs' 19-yard line. QB Brian Griese connected on his first pass of the day, a four-yard gain to WR Ike Hilliard. An unnecessary roughness penalty on T Donald Penn moved the Bucs back half the distance to the goal line, setting up second-and-19 at the 11. Some confusion at the line of scrimmage then resulted in the Bucs burning their first timeout of the day. After the break, Griese threw a pass over the middle intended for TE Alex Smith that was tipped and intercepted by LB Lance Briggs, giving the Bears the ball at the Bucs' 15-yard line. * RB Matt Forte took a handoff on first down and was promptly swallowed up by the Bucs' defense for no gain. QB Kyle Orton threw over the middle to TE Desmond Clark on second down, but the ball was tipped by LB Barrett Ruud and fell incomplete. On third down, CB Ronde Barber came on a blitz and nailed Orton for a seven-yard loss, bringing Gould onto the field for a 40-yard field goal try. The attempt sailed through the uprights, giving the Bears the early 3-0 lead. * Jackson returned the ensuing kickoff to the 21, but a taunting penalty on the Bears gave the Bucs an additional 15 yards. RB Earnest Graham took a first-down handoff to the left but was stuffed for a loss of four. Griese hit Smith on second down for four yards, setting up third-and-10 at the Bucs' own 36-yard line. Griese's pass intended for WR Antonio Bryant was broken up, bringing P Josh Bidwell on to punt. CB Nathan Vasher fielded the 56-yard boot and returned it 15 yards to the Bears' 23-yard line. * Orton connected with WR Rashied Davis on first down for a gain of 13. Forte was then tripped up from behind by S Jermaine Phillips on the next play, but not after picking up four yards. On second down, Orton found TE Greg Olsen for 10 yards and another first down. Forte picked up seven yards up the middle, then moved the sticks again on second down with a four-yard gain. Forte then caught a pass out of the backfield for another 12 yards. On first down at the Bucs' 27-yard line, Orton was finally slowed up, as LB Cato June took him down for a three-yard loss. Forte picked up five yards on second down, setting up third-and-eight. Orton was flushed from the pocket and was forced to throw it away, bringing the Bears' field goal unit out once again. Gould's 43-yard attempt was good, and the Bears lead stretched to 6-0. * WR Michael Clayton subbed in for Jackson to field the kickoff, returning it 38 yards. However, a holding penalty negated the nice return, moving the Bucs back to their own 19. Griese threaded the needle on first down, hitting Bryant for a 14-yard gain. RB Warrick Dunn found a huge hole up the middle on the next play, bursting ahead for a gain of 18 as the Bucs moved into Chicago territory for the first time. TE Jerramy Stevens then made his first catch of the season, picking up 31 yards and moving the Bucs to the Bears' 18. Graham took the next carry and plowed ahead for seven yards, then Griese hit Bryant on a quick slant for three yards and a first down. On first-and-goal at the eight, Griese hit TE John Gilmore for three yards. Graham was mobbed by a group of Bears defenders on second down, picking up just one yard. Facing third-and-goal at the four, Hilliard made an excellent grab on a low throw with two Bears defenders in the area for a touchdown. K Matt Bryant's extra point made it 7-6 Bucs. * S Danieal Manning returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Bears' 48-yard line. Orton's pass on first down was batted to the turf by DE Kevin Carter for an incompletion. Forte picked up four yards up the middle on second down, setting up third-and-six. DE Greg White then brought Orton down for a sack and a loss of five, bringing P Brad Maynard into the game. His punt sailed into the end zone for a touchback, setting the Bucs up at their own 20. * Dunn lined up split out to the right on first down and caught a pass from Griese for 10 yards as the first quarter came to a close. Griese was forced to throw the ball away on the next play. Griese connected with WR Maurice Stovall on second down, but Stovall fumbled the ball away and the Bears recovered at the Bucs' 30. * Forte picked up four yards on first down. Ruud then made a fantastic interception in the end zone after having his back turned to the ball initially. Ruud was covering Forte, who had the ball bounce off his hands before Ruud juggled the pass twice before securing it inches away from the ground. * Griese and the offense took over at the 20 following the touchback. Dunn lost two yards on first down, but Griese then hit Bryant on second down for 11 yards, setting up third-and-one at the 29. Graham got the call up the middle on third down, but was stuffed for no gain. Bidwell came on to punt again, and Stovall downed his kick at the Chicago 26. * Forte ran for two yards on first down then caught a pass on second down, but was brought down by White for a gain of one. On third-and-eight, White laid a hit on Orton as he threw a pass to Forte, who was stopped short of the first-down marker. Jackson then fielded Maynard's punt and fell to the turf at the Bucs' 33 after a four-yard return. * Graham was stuffed for a four-yard loss on first down. FB B.J. Askew caught a screen pass on second down but was brought down for no gain. On third-and-14, Griese's pass was dropped by Dunn, bringing Bidwell on once again. His punt sailed out of bounds at the Chicago 29, where the Bears took over. * Orton scrambled to the right for 12 yards on first down, but Forte was brought down for a gain of only one on the ensuing first-down play. Forte caught a screen pass on second down and rumbled ahead for 19 yards and another first down. Carter then flew in for a sack on the next play, bringing Orton down for a nine-yard loss. DE Gaines Adams then picked off an errant Forte throw and hustled all the way down to the goal line. Adams dove near the sideline and sailed into the end zone, but was ruled down at the one-yard line. The Bucs challenged the call, however, and the play was overturned, giving Adams the 45-yard touchdown. Bryant's extra point made it 14-6 Tampa Bay. * Manning picked up 25 yards on the kickoff return, setting the Bears up at their own 24 with just over five minutes to play in the half. Orton hit FB Jason McKie for a gain of five on first down, and then found Clark on second down for four more yards. The Bears called timeout, and Forte then picked up two on third-and-one at the 33. On the ensuing first-down play, Forte was wrapped up by DT Jovan Haye and held to a gain of three. Orton hit Olson on second down for six yards, setting up another third-and-one. Orton threw on the play incomplete, bringing up fourth down. The Bears faked the punt, however, and RB Garrett Wolfe rushed for 38 yards and a first down at the Bucs' 18. Forte plowed ahead for three yards on first down. Orton was flushed from the pocket on second down but managed to pick up four yards up the middle. On third-and-three, Forte was held to a gain of only one, and the Bears burned their second timeout of the half. Gould came on to attempt a 28-yard field goal, which was good, cutting the Bucs' lead to 14-9 as the first half came to a close.