Among the unannounced position changes was Harold Jones-Quartey opening at safety in place of struggling Chris Prosinski. The switch may have seemed of only minor significance, but Jones-Quartey, who started the Kansas City and Detroit games when Antrel Rolle was injured, responded by forcing a fumble after Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin had gathered in a screen pass in the second quarter.
“I saw him run, I saw him cutting back,” said Jones-Quartey. ”You know he’s a tough runner, he’s very strong. [Sam Garnes, safeties coach] has been preaching on it all day, just to come out there and put it on the line for your brothers and your teammates and that’s what I tried to do out there.”
Quartey-Jones later saved a touchdown with a leaping interception of a Jameis Winston pass toward Sims in the end zone, returning it to the Chicago 24 to give the Bears a reset while trying to re-take the lead in the third quarter.
“I think there’s a big difference when you throw [a pass] like Cameron Brate’s [a 46-yard jump-ball completion] – when you throw it up,” said coach Lovie Smith. “That’s a good punt. It’s a little different when you are in the red zone and you have at least a field goal right there. Circumstances will allow you to be a little more aggressive. That wasn’t one of them.”
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Tracy Porter was late reacting on a broken play on which running back Charles Sims got past hobbled linebacker Pernell McPhee. Porter arrived too late to break up Jameis Winston’s pass and, more significantly, failed to at least make a tackle, allowing the catch-and-run to cover 50 yards for a go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter.
That was followed a possession later by safety Adrian Amos mistiming a jump on a Winston heave toward third-string tight end Brate, who turned a broken play into a 46-yard conversion on a third down in the quarter.
Kyle Fuller was able to break up a 60-yard launch from Winston to wideout Donteea Dye in the fourth quarter, avoiding pass interference and preventing a pivotal third-down conversion with the Bears holding a six-point lead.
If there was a shortcoming it was in DB’s failures in run support, too slow reading run plays by Doug Martin and Charles Sims. Amos and Quartey-Jones took poor angles and were flat-footed on a fourth-quarter run by Sims that initially was stacked up but went for 34 yards when Sims found untended gaps with defensive backs nowhere in the area.
But the overall saw the defense shut down Martin overall, with Amos finishing with 5 tackles and pass breakup and Jones-Quartey break up two passes in addition to the interception and forced fumble.
“[Jones-Quartey] had zip. He was fresh,” said coach John Fox. “This part of the season, you get worn down a little bit. It’s a long season. But he had a great week of preparation. I saw him improve. He got better just in practice. We get to watch him every day. So I was proud of the young man and the way he performed. I know it was a great pick. He played the ball well on that one. He’ll just continue to get better.”
Moon's Grade: A-