Team Effort Lifts Buccaneers over Bears

Ken Cross

September 21, 2023 at 12:28 pm.

TAMPA, Fla. – Go to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers depth chart and ask yourself what each specific player did to help the Buccaneers stop the Bears, 27-17, on Sunday to lift their record to 2-0 on the young season.

You will find an NFL ship filled with Buccaneers who can answer that question in a positive way.

The Bucs opened up the game late in the first half with kicker Chase McLaughlin’s 24-yard field goal that sent Tampa Bay to halftime with a 13-10 halftime advantage.

The Buccaneers took the upper hand for good when quarterback Baker Mayfield threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Evans which gave the Bucs a 20-10 advantage with 4:06 remaining in the third period.

Tampa Bay played an efficient game as it was the second week that the Bucs did not have a turnover.

Both sides of the ball had major contributors. Included here are players who were among the top Buccaneers to lead Sunday’s charge.


Mike Evans – “Pay Mike Evans!” Since the beginning of the season, no such contract was penned, so coaches, players and Bucs fans, in general, fear he might leave or that there might be a trade.

On Sunday, Evans once again paced the Bucs as he caught six passes and totaled 171 yards and one touchdown. Mayfield hit Evans with a 25-yard pass on a curl pattern on the left. When Evans secured the pass, he ran to the right and was out of bounds on the Chicago 7-yard line.

The 70-yard pass play set up Rachaad White’s four-yard run which gave Tampa Bay a 10-7 lead with 10:53 remaining in the first half.

This was Evans’ eighth-highest single game in his 10-year career and it was his 10th career game with 150 or more yards and at least one touchdown. No one in the history of the franchise has had more than two games with that stat.

Mayfield hit Evans with a 32-yard touchdown pass where Evans did a double-move and ran by Bears corner Tyriq Stevenson. Safety Jaquan Brisker saw Evans’ quick step to the inside and he tried to come over and help Stevenson.

“He’s the best go-ball runner versus ‘off’ coverage in the league,” said Mayfield. “That’s where that touchdown was, off corner. He just closes that space so quickly and accelerates. We’re lucky to have him.”


Shaq Barrett – Chicago trailed 20-17 with 2:03 remaining as the Bucs had outplayed them, but they still had a chance as quarterback Justin Fields brought the Bears up to the line of scrimmage on their own 7-yard line.

Fields tried to throw a quick, short pass to Khalil Herbert, but Barrett deflected the pass, picked it off and returned it for the score. It was the third interception of his career and his first that he ran in for a touchdown.

“It was a great play by Shaq,” explained Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles. “Shaq is a very heady guy. I think he had a sack along with it. It’s good to see him back to normal.”

The physical Buccaneers linebacker had a tough offseason as he lost Arrayah, his two-year-old daughter, to a swimming accident in April. Barrett dedicated his touchdown to his daughter.

“I told her, ‘I love you. I miss you. Wish you were here,’” explained Barrett. “I am glad I am able to still get some spotlight for her and to the Lord above because He is the reason we are here right now. I am just trusting His plan.”


Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Vita Vea – The duo thrust itself into the Bucs’ defensive attack and were keys in the Buccaneers’ six sacks of Fields on the afternoon. Tryon-Shoyinka had two sacks and Vea made 1.5, while linebacker Devin White put up a sack and a forced fumble.

The Buccaneers consumed the Bears’ offensive line as Chicago could not get its new running game to produce in rushing for only 67 yards on 16 carries.

“He’s (Shoyinka) getting off the ball,” said Bowles. “He was thinking last year – the last two years, actually – learning the scheme and trying not to fit in. His athletic ability is his power and strength and he is starting to use it.”


Rashaad White – Last season, Tampa Bay finished last in the NFL in rushing and it took Tom Brady with Evans and Godwin to fashion a reliable offensive scheme.

White has come aboard as the first potentially dangerous threat out of the backfield since Peyton Barber rushed for 824 yards and five touchdowns in 2018.

White had 73 yards on 17 carries with a 4-yard touchdown run in Sunday’s win.

“It was a good balance,” Bowles said of the run and pass. “(Offensive Coordinator) Dave (Canales) did a good job balancing them out. Rashad is our bell cow, and we rely on him when times get tough.”


Baker Mayfield – The Buccaneers do not have any turnovers in the two games to start the season and a huge reason for that is the disciplined play from Mayfield in the passing game.

He isn’t getting outside of his personal skill set and is checking down at the line of scrimmage. Mayfield is not forcing the football in traffic which shows that he has been a quality leader.

“He’s savvy thus far and he doesn’t have to be a dodging quarterback,” said Bowles. “He has a good feel for the game and what’s around him.”

Mayfield completed 26 of 34 passes for 317 yards and one touchdown and saw the Bucs improve form the Week 1 win in Minnesota to Sunday’s sequestering of the Bears.

“I think the best things for us today was having a plan for what they were doing,” said Mayfield. “We adapted quickly to the zone coverages and just have the physical mentality. The thing that we are going to harp on is just the little details in the red zone.”