Bears vs. Bucs Recap
The Bears locked up homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a 34-31 OT win against the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. The Bears squandered an 18 point halftime lead but played tough in overtime winning on a 25 yard Robbie Gould FG after he missed a 37 yarder earlier in OT. The 12-2 Bears now have the luxury of playing two meaningless games against Detroit and Green Bay in the coming weeks and a first round bye. Let's hope the team doesn't get too soft with all that time to go until they play a meaningfull game again.
This win is all on the Offense as the D created only two turnovers and two sacks the entire game. The Offense moved fairly well the entire game with a balanced rushing and passing attack. Rex Grossman had one of his best games of the season going 29/44 for 339 yards 2TDs and 0 INTs. Perhaps the most impressive part of his game was leading a 2 minute drill scoring drive at the end of the first half to put the Bears on top 21-3. The OL played well and Rex took advantage of the time and throwing lanes to chew up the Tampa D. It's obvious now that when the running game is going well, Rex is a much better QB. When the running game is going, Rex uses play action and finds room over the middle of the field that is just not there when teams are dropping back in coverage against him.
Thomas Jones also played perhaps his best game of the year. He hit the hole hard all night and looked much improved in pass protection. He left the game in the second half with an injury aggravation after carrying the ball 17 times for 68 yards and 1 TD. Jones needs to keep playing hard like he did yesterday and this Offense will keep rolling. Cedric Benson also had a terrific game punishing the Tampa D with his power running. He took 15 carries for 53 yards and 1 TD. Running the ball 30+ times for 120+ yards and 2TDs is a winning formula and the Bears need to keep it up.
Des Clark had a career game catching 7 passes for 125 yards and 2TDs. He did drop one pass but showed very soft hands on the rest of his opportunities. Clark has the ability to catch passes in tough situations and hold onto the ball. Props to Mark Bradley for throwing a great block to spring a big play in the first half. The Bears ask their WRs to block well and Bradley threw the kind of block that rattles teeth.
The D played well in the first half holding Tampa to 3 points and less than 100 yards. Rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski helped by missing receivers so bad he was benched. Backup defensive tackles Alphonso Boone and Ian Scott played very well getting a good pass rush and playing stout against the run. It seems the D gassed or let up in the second half giving up 4 TD's in a 15 minute stretch. One was setup by a Devin Hester fumble on his own 16 yard line. Two were passes burning the Ricky Manning Jr. and Daniel Manning combination in coverage. The other was a balanced 10 play 57 yard scoring drive capped off with a 14 yard Mike Alstott TD run. This is two weeks in a row that the Bears D has stumbled in the second half but it's still too early to worry. This is still a solid defense that can make plays when they need to. When the Bears get Nathan Vasher back, the passing defense should shore up quite a bit. The pass rush needs to keep improving but the DL is getting adjusted to the loss of Harris and Johnson. It's amazing that the Bears can play without 3 probowl starters and 1 other starter and still get the job done.
ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
It was an off game for the Bears special teams. Robbie Gould missed a game winning 37 yard FG in OT and that's not acceptable for a kicker. He needs to get back to the form he was in at the start of the season. Devin Hester was almost neutralized with the Bucs kicking away from him most of the game but the balls he did field he returned well. He did however cough up a ball in his own red zone.
It was great to see the offense rolling so well. Come playoff time the O may have to win a game and they showed they are capable of that yesterday. Now it's three weeks of garbage and time off until the playoffs start in Chicago!