With Alshon Jeffery again inactive (hamstring), Zach Miller was the center of the passing offense, with hauling in a team-high seven of the eight passes Jay Cutler threw him, several in extremely tight and occasional double coverage. The reception total was his season-best and one short of his career mark, with 69 of the Bears’ 156 passing yards on the day.
The plan was not necessarily to target Miller for matchup purposes or to make up for Jeffery out and Eddie Royal sick.
“It was Adam [Gase, offensive coordinator] making the calls at the right time and Jay finding me when I was open,” Miller said.
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The receiver group played an overall complementary role, accounting for less than half the offense’s yardage total. Marc Mariani worked free in the soft middle of Tampa Bay’s Cover-2 in the fourth quarter gave Jay Cutler room for a 25-yard completion and conversion of a third-and-12 to give the offense a fresh set of downs and forcing the Buccaneers to start using timeouts.
Deonte Thompson cost the Bears a first-quarter first down with a holding penalty to kill a possession.
Josh Bellamy dropped into the starting lineup to replace Alshon Jeffery, inactive with a hamstring strain from the Minnesota game. Bellamy had started against San Francisco when Royal was injury/inactive but delivered just one catch of the four passes thrown to him out of the 68 snaps he played. Against the Buccaneers Bellamy caught two passes for 10 total yards.
Moon's Grade: B