Let's do something a little different this week and give this collectively to the Buccaneers' defensive line. A week after the down linemen produced six sacks at Washington they came back with three more on Sunday in Chicago, one each for Jacquies Smith, Clinton McDonald and Gerald McCoy. In addition, with the exception of two short-field sequences in the third quarter, the Buccaneers' defensive front gave up very little room to Pro Bowl RB Matt Forte up the middle. Forte did eventually gain 89 yards on 23 carries, but the Bears' running game averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and QB Jay Cutler very rarely had time to find open receivers downfield. The Bucs allowed a strong offense just 204 total yards on Sunday, and that effort most definitely started up front.
Play of the Game
For the Buccaneers, it was McCoy's sack and forced fumble in the first quarter. While the Buccaneers would eventually finish a dominant first half, leading 10-0 and outgaining the home team, 211 yards to 68, the game was still very even at this point. Tampa Bay had just turned the ball over on an interception and then erased a three-and-out by the defense with a running-into-the-punter personal foul. Suddenly Chicago was at midfield in a scoreless game, threatening to strike first. Instead, McCoy got the ball back for the Bucs at midfield and they promptly drove 46 yards for the game's first points on Mike Evans' touchdown catch.
Chicago DT Stephen Paea turned the tide of the game in third quarter when he sacked Buccaneers QB Josh McCown from behind and forced a fumble that the Bears recovered at Tampa Bay's 13. At the time, it was 10-7 in the visitors' favor and the Buccaneers defense had shown little give against Chicago's attack. This play set up a very short field, however, and one play later Forte was in the end zone with the go-ahead score. The Buccaneers never regained the lead.
It Was Over When
The Bucs' challenge of a fourth-and-one run with two minutes left in the game failed to overturn the initial ruling. Had the Bucs won that replay review, they would have had a first down at the Chicago 35 with plenty of time to try to punch it in the end zone and follow up with a two-point conversion. Instead, the play was upheld, which turned the ball over on downs and left Tampa Bay with just one timeout. Chicago was able to run the clock down to 20 seconds before punting away.