After bottoming out in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears’ offensive line could use a friend. Or friends. And they got them in Tampa. Lots of them.
Enough Bears fans turned out at Raymond James Stadium Sunday to have an effect on the game. Because of crowd noise, the offensive line typically needs to rely on a silent snap count, with guard Matt Slauson tapping the leg of center Hroniss Grasu to signal that Jay Cutler is ready for the snap. That means Slauson sitting in his stance but turning around to look at Cutler for the quarterback to lift his leg, the “ready” indicator.
But when the Bears had the football on Sunday, the massive Chicago contingent quieted down enough that Slauson and Grasu’s job got easier.
“Actually we had a couple drives where we took the silent cadence out of it,” Slauson said, smiling. “I loved that.”
The line had multiple changes in one day and handled them and a very good Tampa Bay front effectively. The Bucccaneers finished with just one sack of Cutler, only one other QB hit, and the Bears rushing for 174 yards total and an average of 4.5 per carry.
The 26 points were the Bears’ third-highest this season, the most since 37 against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 15.
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“I think if you’ve got a great quarterback who’s protected and an O-line that does a good job at the point of attack in the running game, you see an offense that’s going to have success,” said right tackle Kyle Long. “Unfortunately we haven’t been consistent; I haven’t been consistent.”
The offense lost center Grasu for a time to a leg injury late in the third quarter, forcing Slauson to move from left guard to center. Patrick Omameh, bumped from the starting lineup, stepped in at left guard. Vladimir Ducasse, who started the first six games of the season at right guard before losing the job to Omameh, had the job back on Sunday after the dismal overall showing of the line in Minnesota.
Ducasse combined with right tackle Kyle Long to get some push on the right side in double teams, including on Ka’Deem Carey’s second-quarter touchdown.
A false start by Long with the Bears inside the Tampa Bay 5 in a goal-to-go situation was costly. The Bears netted a field goal but were in position to go up by 10 points with a touchdown just before halftime. Ducasse was ticketed for holding in the fourth quarter, nullifying a third-down conversion.
“They’re a very talented front,” Slauson said. “McCoy’s a beast and their linebackers are fast. Lavonte [David, linebacker] just flies around everywhere making plays.
“But we’re confident in our ability to line up against anybody in the league and pound the rock.”
Moon's Grade: A