The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hadn’t played their starters in a month, but there was no evidence of rust in their win over the Chicago Bears. The Bucs dominated from beginning to end and gave Mike Glennon’s new team no room to breathe, walking away with a 29-7 win.
While the Bucs’ offseason was filled with excitement over DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard, the team’s two new offensive weapons barely showed up on the stat sheet and it was the defense that drove this easy win. In a replay of last year’s game, early Bears turnovers gave the game to the Bucs before it could really start.
The Bucs took the ball away from the Bears four times in the first half, leading to a 26-0 lead at half time—the biggest half-time lead the Bucs had had since 2001.
The turnovers came quickly and early: once on a bad throw straight into Kwon Alexander’s hands, and once on a rookie mistake on a punt return by Tarik Cohen. The result: another seven points on Mike Evans’ first touchdown of the season and a 10-0 lead.
Eight plays later, Noah Spence knocked the ball out of Mike Glennon’s hands and into the waiting arms of Lavonte David. Another drive later, another turnover: Mike Glennon threw a terrible interception on a quick out, and Robert McClain could almost walk into the end zone from there.
The Bucs then cruised to the win in a second half that mostly featured them draining the clock on lengthy, soul-destroying drives. Nick Folk, who seems a lot more accurate than Roberto Aguayo, slowly but surely added to the score line, while the defense held out until the final two minutes before finally allowing Mike Glennon to find the endzone—seconds after Vernon Hargreaves dropped a third interception.
That vaunted Bears running game went nowhere, too. Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard managed to combine for just 20 yards on 18 carries. The Bucs’ run defense was a massive area of concern last year, but that certainly wasn’t visible today.
Maybe this defense could have won this game on its own, but the offense certainly helped, too. Jameis Winston had a solid first game of the season, completing 18 of 30 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown, two sacks and no interceptions. He looked more accurate than he did last year, though the deep ball still needs a little help.
Mike Evans proved that he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL, too, catching seven passes for 93 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber proved to be a solid replacement for the suspended Doug Martin. Rodgers got 67 yards on 19 carries, while Barber added another 47 yards on 10 carries.
The Bucs saw starting linebacker Kwon Alexander leave the game midway through the first half with a hamstring injury. He did not return to play.
The Buccaneers travel to Minnesota to take on the 1-1 Minnesota Vikings, who were forced to start Case Keenum of all quarterbacks today.