NFL GAME RECAP

Bucs make quick work of mistake-prone Bears

The Sports Xchange

September 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm.

Sep 17, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) throws a pass in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium. Photo Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 17, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) throws a pass in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium. Photo Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quickly shaking loose from nearly a week of Hurricane Irma-forced inactivity, struck early and often Sunday to defeat the mistake-prone Chicago Bears 29-7 at Raymond James Stadium.

The Bucs (1-0) led 26-0 at halftime, a team-record advantage at the break in a season opener. It was Tampa Bay’s largest halftime advantage since 2001.

The Bears, who had four first-half turnovers, slipped to 0-2 after beginning with a home loss against the Atlanta Falcons.

Tampa Bay’s offense did its part by turning two of the takeaways into touchdowns — a 13-yard pass from quarterback Jameis Winston to wide receiver Mike Evans and a 1-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers, who started for Doug Martin, serving the final three games of a substance-abuse suspension.

Winston was 18 of 30 for 204 yards before giving way to Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the fourth quarter. Winston’s favorite target was Evans, who had seven receptions for 93 yards.

Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay’s third-round draft pick in 2013 who played four seasons for the Bucs, completed 31 of 45 passes for 301 yards, but was haunted by a pair of critical second-quarter errors.

With the Bucs leading 10-0, Glennon fumbled after being sacked by Noah Spence and it was recovered by linebacker Lavonte David at the Chicago 35-yard line. The Bears stopped Tampa Bay on third-and-goal from the 6, but the Bucs got new life when Bears linebacker Willie Young was flagged for defensive holding. Rodgers scored on the next play, a 1-yard run for a 17-0 advantage.

On the next series, Glennon swung a pass attempt to Josh Bellamy in the left flat on third-and-9, but Bucs cornerback Robert McClain stepped in front and sailed into the end zone for a 47-yard interception return.

Nick Folk missed the point-after attempt, keeping the score at 23-0, but he made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder on the half’s final play and a 42-yarder.

Tampa Bay nearly registered the team’s second shutout win in the past 13 seasons, but Glennon finally got Chicago on the board by hitting Deonte Thompson on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:43 remaining.

NOTES: Bears LB Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral muscle) and LG Tom Compton (hip) left in the half, then were ruled out of the game. Bears RG Josh Sitton (ribs) was later ruled out during the second half. … Bucs LB Kwon Alexander, whose first-quarter interception set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown, left in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and didn’t return, putting more stress on a linebacker corps that was already missing backup Devante Bond. … The Bucs — along with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins — wore a “ONE FLORIDA” decal on their helmets to signify the state’s resilience following Hurricane Irma. … Bucs TE O.J. Howard, a first-round pick from Alabama, had his first NFL catch with a 17-yard reception in the third quarter. … Bucs S T.J. Ward, the former Pro Bowler who was acquired after being cut by the Denver Broncos, made his Tampa Bay debut with a second-quarter splash play. He dumped Bears RB Tarik Cohen for a 3-yard loss.

 

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