The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the NFL’s No. 2 rushing offense, with tailback Doug Martin second in rushing and fourth in total yards from scrimmage. The Bears held the Bucs to 104 total yards, which in fact was an accomplishment against a team averaging 141.5 ground yards per game and runs the football 46 percent of the time despite a losing record.
John Timu marked his second NFL start by recovering a Doug Martin fumble in the second quarter. The offense was able to turn the takeaway, the Bears’ first fumble recovery in four games, into a go-ahead field goal. Timu came up with a second Martin fumble in the Tampa Bay end during the third quarter after John Anderson met Martin head-on with a textbook tackle in the hold, knocking the football loose at the Tampa Bay 23.
“Each week is a big emphasis on taking the ball away,” said Timu, who was tied with Christian Jones for team-high tackles (6) on initial stat reports. Jones also had a hit on Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. “If we can do that as a defense, it’s creating more possessions for the offense, the chance of winning just goes up. The more we can do that, the better we are as a team.”
Pernell McPhee was able to bull-rush right tackle Demar Dotson back into Winston for a third-down sack in the second quarter, ending a possession deep in Tampa Bay’s end and forcing a punt that gave the Bears’ offense field position.
McPhee finished with 4 tackles, two for loss, and added a second hit on Winston.
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The defense was without middle linebacker Shea McClellin, still recovering from a concussion in the Minnesota game, and the loss was filled by Jones, back after a week on the inactive list. The condition of McPhee remained an issue, with the rush-linebacker not starting but playing in spots, alternating with Lamarr Houston and Willie Young at the edge spots.
“It was real important,” McPhee said. “I don’t want to go into the offseason with double digit losses. So it’s something at least positive we say at least we didn’t go in with double-digit losses. It’s something we can build on, especially ending the season with two wins. Of course we’ve got to go get the one next week, but that’s just going to be something to build on, momentum and strive for the best next year.”
Moon's Grade: A-