CB Ronde Barber and the Bucs didn't need extra clothing last year in Chicago, when it was unseasonably warm
An optimist would call it 'crisp.'
Morning in Chicago hit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with freezing temperatures and the occasional light flurry. It's cold…but don't think the Bucs are disappointed by that.
This Buccaneer squad has shown it can win on the road, win in its division, win in domes, win on the West Coast – all bugaboos that had vexed the Tampa Bay franchise before the arrival of Head Coach Tony Dungy. Today, perhaps, the last and most discussed barrier will fall: winning below 40 degrees.
Dungy and his troops don't believe the weather has any effect on their chances for victory, but that 0-17 in sub-40 conditions won't be erased until the Bucs have put up a win. That chance could come this afternoon against the Chicago Bears, who play host to the Bucs in venerable, chilly Soldier Field.
Chicago used to mean two things to the Buccaneers, the weather and a grinding Bears running game that pounded the middle relentlessly. Now, Chicago has a glitzier offense under second-year coordinator Gary Crowton, an attack that often employs extra receivers. Still, these Bears who had lopsided numbers in favor of the pass over the run in 1999 now appear to be returning to the ground in 2000, working hard to establish the run.
And it has been working with unheralded RB James Allen, who has 651 rushing yards and is averaging 4.3 yards a shot. Chicago also uses short screens to its receivers in place of the run on occasion.
Tampa Bay, however, has been one of the better teams in the league in handling the Bears' intricate offense. In fact, in the previous three Bucs-Bears matchups dating back to 1999, Chicago has scored a total of nine points on three field goals. It has been 14 quarters since the Bucs allowed the Bears to reach the end zone.
That type of stinginess was more important in 1999, when the Bucs were one of the league's lowest-scoring teams. In 2000, a new attack led by imported coordinator Les Steckel has allowed Tampa Bay to rank fifth in the league in scoring, helped along by a 41-0 win over the Bears in Tampa in September.
Can the Bucs score in that manner again today, with the Chicago cold adding another barrier. We'll find out today.
You can follow all of the action from Soldier Field by visiting our special Gameday section. Inside, you'll find detailed reports of the action after each quarter, pregame reports from inside the Buccaneer locker room, injury news, periodic stats, lineups, game photos and more.