Bears 24, Buccaneers 18
LONDON, U.K. — The NFL may want to make London Tampa’s second home but that didn’t stop them from dropping to 0-2 there as this time the Chicago Bears manhandled the Bucs early and Tampa never fully recovered.
Josh Freeman wasn’t able to fully lead the comeback as the Bucs were down 14-5 at the start of the third quarter and eventually went down 21-5 before powering back to make it 21-18. Their defense failed them down the stretch when it needed to be more solid than it had been all day long.
Matt Forte went 145 yards and a score and proved to be the difference maker in the game. He put the Bucs on their heels and then made them gobble up the play action like it was fish and chips (I promise that’s my token London cliche).
The Bears defense was also a major factor in the game, stopping the Bucs on drive after drive and feeding off of the energy of Matt Forte’s performance. They intercepted Josh Freeman 4 times and usually in big spots on potential scoring drives. Brian Urlacher had probably the biggest pick of the game when he intercepted Freeman in the redzone, fumbled but managed to get his knee down first effectively ending what could have been a game changing score.
Penalties were another issue for the Bucs. It was one of the many avoidable mistakes they had that cost them the game. They ended up with 8 for 69 yards. One huge penalty came in the final minutes of the game, after the Bucs stopped Bears on the goal line. Talib committed a personal foul that not only gave the Bears a fresh set of down but a huge break. The Bucs ended up stopping the Bears again on three straight plays but the damage was done on the clock where Chicago was able to take another chunk of time off and put the pressure on Tampa with little time.
Freeman ended up throwing his fourth interception of the game on the would-be comeback drive which ended the game on the theme it was built on: mistakes.
Another major event in the game which is huge news for the Bucs is the injury to Earnest Graham in the first half. Graham went down with a leg injury untouched and never came back to the game. This meant that the Buccaneers lone healthy back Kregg Lumpkin finished the game. But more seriously the Bucs are down to one healthy back. LeGarrette Blount is still nursing an MCL sprain and if Graham is out for significant time then Tampa will need to combt he waiver wires and practice squads for replacements.
If there is some hope in this, it’s that this is the very way Mark Dominik crafted this team, off of waiver wire and practice squad signings. But without their two experienced backs, it’s back to the drawing board in terms of the run game.
What would be adding insult to the injuries most is if Tiki Barber is brought in. Hopefully Raheem Morris feels Bucs fans have suffered enough today.
The injury to Graham is more than just a footnote and it’s more than just a headline. It’s one of the many themes in Sunday’s game that reflect the Bucs loss. However bad break is putting it nicely. Boneheaded mistakes by a young, immature and unproven team is more like it.