CHICAGO NEEDS OVERTIME TO DOWN TAMPA BAY The 3-10 Buccaneers were 14-point underdogs heading into Sunday’s game vs. the 11-2 Bears. When Chicago jumped out to a 24-3 lead in the third quarter, it looked as though the people that set the point spread in Las Vegas had it about right. But then Tampa Bay’s offense, led by backup QB Tim Rattay, who replaced rookie Bruce Gradkowski in the second quarter, found its groove after going 13 straight quarters without scoring a touchdown. Rattay tossed three touchdown passes and led the Bucs on four scoring drives to rally his team and send Sunday’s contest into overtime. Unfortunately for the Bucs, the Bears won the game with a 25-yard field goal.
Tampa Bay falls to 3-11 on the season, and it has lost four straight games and seven of its last eight contests. However, the Bucs hope to take a moral victory of sorts away from Chicago.
RATTAY IGNITES BUCS’ OFFENSE Bucs rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski went 5-of-11 for 37 yards before being pulled with just over six minutes remaining in the second quarter of Sunday’s game in Chicago. Tampa Bay had gone 13 straight quarters without scoring a touchdown before backup QB Tim Rattay got the Bucs going in the third quarter. He engineered a 10-play, 57-yard drive that ended with fullback Mike Alstott’s 14-yard run for a score, which made the score 24-10. From there, Rattay and the Bucs’ offense capitalized on a Bears turnover by throwing a 9-yard pass to tight end Alex Smith for a touchdown, In the fourth quarter, Rattay hit wide receiver Joey Galloway for a 64-yard touchdown, and on the next series, he hit WR Ike Hilliard for a 44-yard touchdown strike, which tied the game at 31 all and sent it into overtime.
Rattay completed 20-of-35 passes for 268 yards and tossed three touchdowns and one interception on Sunday. Rattay likely will be Tampa Bay’s starting signal caller when the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Eve.
A-TRAIN BREAKS BUCS” DREADFUL STREAK Tampa Bay fullback Mike Alstott’s 14-yard run for a touchdown with 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter snapped the Bucs’ streak of not scoring an offensive touchdown at 13 straight quarters. The offense appeared to be headed for a 14th straight touchdown-less quarter before the “A-Train’s” big touchdown run, which was his third this season and 58th career rushing score.
GALLOWAY JOINS 600 CLUB Bucs wide receiver Joey Galloway didn’t catch a pass until the third quarter, but that reception gave him 600 for his career. Galloway ended the game with three catches for 107 yards, including his 64-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter.
CLARK DOMINATES TAMPA BAY’S DEFENSE Chicago tight end Desmond Clark gave Tampa Bay’s defense fits on Sunday. He was quarterback Rex Grossman’s favorite target, catching a team-leading seven passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears produced 446 yards of total offense vs. the Buccaneers on Sunday.
HESTER HELD IN CHECK Tampa Bay’s special teams unit managed to contain Chicago rookie return specialist Devin Hester, who entered Sunday’s game with an NFL record six touchdowns on returns. Hester averaged 10.5 yards per punt and just 15.2 yards per kickoff return while fumbling the ball twice, including one that set up Tampa Bay’s second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.
INACTIVES The following Bucs players were inactive for Tampa Bay’s game vs. Chicago: QB Luke McCown, CB Alan Zemaitis, S Donte Nicholson, C Nick Mihihauser, T Donald Penn, TE Doug Jolley, DE Charles Bennett and DT Jon Bradley.
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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org