Lovie Smith returned and hosted the Bears today in Tampa Bay and much like last years game when the Buccaneers when they lost 21-13 to Chicago, the Bears beat the Buccaneers 26-21. The Bears after looking lifeless last week. played a solid game despite an almost too conservative gameplan. Robbie Gould hit field goals of 26, 27, 50 and 39 yards rebounding nicely from a few rough weeks that sent the season into a tailspin. Ka’Deem Carey helped out Gould scoring 2 touchdowns after Matt Forte exited with some type of leg injury, including scoring his first ever professional receiving touchdown with 14:55 left in the fourth quarter. The game for the most part was never in question as Jameis Winston hit Austin Seferian-Jenkins on a Hail Mary touchdown pass with 1 second to go which before that the Bears were leading 26-14. Tampa Bay kicked the extra point but failed to recover the ensuing onside kick and that was the ballgame.
Jay Cutler an efficient, workmanlike day, even though I am not sure he even attempted a pass more than 10 yards downfield. With Alshon Jeffrey not dressing this week due to an hamstring injury, Adam Gase employed another super conservative gameplan of short passes and runs up the middle. Cutler finished 20 for 27 for 156 yards and 1 aforementioned touchdown pass to Carey. He did not turn the ball over, which when he plays a clean game often leads to a Bears victory.
The Bears defense had an efficient game, recording 1 sack by Pernell McPhee and 1 interception by Harold Jones-Quartey. Jones-Quartey intercepted Jameis Winston at the Bears 1 yard line in fourth quarter preserving the Bears lead. Winston finished a mediocre 15 for 29 for 295 yards with 2 touchdowns (1 on the Hail Mary) and 1 interception. Tampa was only 2 of 8 on 3rd down conversations and actually fumbled 5 times, losing 2. Bears rookie John Timu, getting his second consecutive professional start, was credited with 6 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries.
The Bears special teams were once again atrocious as the special teams unit allowed a blocked punt in the first quarter leading to a Doug Martin 4 yard touchdown run with 6:27 to go in the first quarter. Gould with his 4 field saved an otherwise forgettable game on special teams and Tampa muffed 2 punts but the Bears did not recover either. I am not sure what Jeff Rodgers the Bears special teams coordinator has to do lose his job but he is trying very hard to do so as this has been miserable year for the Bears special teams.
The Bears improve to 6-9 and the Buccaneers fall to 6-9 with both teams firmly out of the playoff race. The Bears take on divisional rival the 6-9 Detroit Lions as both face each other again to decide who drafts higher in the coming NFL Draft in Chicago in a few months.