The first week of the NFL season came and went, but it did not feel like football season because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not play due to a natural disaster, Hurricane Irma. After the hurricane, it was three weeks since the Bucs’ starters had played together.
That seemed noticeable early on when the Bucs faced off against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The offense started off weak as its first possession ended in a FG. Then the Bears were marching on the Bucs as they found a way to open the middle by making middle linebacker, Kwon Alexander, track its running backs while Mike Glennon found his slot receivers. From their own 25 yard line to the Bucs’ 22 yard line, the Bears were on the cusp of scoring on the Bucs defense.
Until the Bucs’ defense made amends. Alexander stayed with Bears QB Mike Glennon’s eyes and floated to where Glennon led him. It appeared as though Glennon did not notice him when he threw the ball right into Kwon’s hand.
The Bucs woke up from their slumber. What occurred thereafter was just a massacre. Special teams forced a fumble on a punt. The defense had two interceptions, with one of them returned for a touchdown by slot CB. Two turnovers were added in the fourth quarter as the Bears were prevented from getting a first down in the red zone. With about eight minutes left in the game, the score was 29 – 0. At this juncture of the game, this would be considered garbage time.
In the first half, 20 points were created off of the Bucs defense’s turnovers. The score at the half was Bucs 26, Bears 0. The defense did not stop playing in the second half as it held a shutout up to the 2-minute warning. The final score was Tampa Bay 29, Chicago 7.
With 29 points on the board, the offense has surpassed its season average scoring from last year with 22.1 points per game. But the Bucs’ defense gave notice to the NFL. The Bears came into this game averaging 6.6 yards per rush for a total of 125 yards in week 1. Against this Bucs defense, the Bears amassed a putrid sum of 20 yards rushing for the entirety of the football game, averaging 1.3 yards per rush. With the score of 26 – 0, Bucs ahead, the Bears were forced to throw the ball to get back into the game. Although a touchdown was scored against the Bucs, it occurred under 2 minutes left in the game.
Bucs football has come, finally. What has transpired now has given birth to much higher expectations for the season for the organization and its fans.