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QUARTERBACKS:
Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese had an efficient day against Chicago, completing 15-of-23 passes (65.2 percent) for 163 yards and tossing one touchdown. Griese’s best completion of the game came in the first quarter on a third-and-3 play when he threw off of his back foot to hit running back Michael Pittman in stride down the sideline for a 46-yard gain. That huge play led to kicker Martin Gramatica’s 22-yard field goal, which put the Bucs up 3-0. In the second quarter, Griese picked up another first down on third-and-7 when he pump faked and then threw a perfect strike to wide receiver Tim Brown for a 13-yard gain. In addition to those two good throws, Griese was very effective on slant passes to rookie WR Michael Clayton and Jurevicius. Although he missed WR Joe Jurevicius high in the end zone a few plays later, Griese eventually capped off the Bucs’ second 93-yard drive of the game by connecting with Clayton for a 6-yard touchdown, which made the score 10-0.

*Tampa Bay converted 8-of-13 (46 percent) of its third down attempts against Chicago.

GRADE: B+


RUNNING BACKS:
Bucs running back Michael Pittman ran hard and gave his team a potent rushing attack against the Bears. Pittman rushed 23 times for 109 yards (4.9 avg.) and had a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Perhaps Pittman’s biggest play of the game came in the first quarter when he hauled in a pass from QB Brian Griese down the sideline for a 46-yard gain, which set up Tampa Bay’s first field goal and capped off a 93-yard scoring drive. Pittman had some great runs, including a 19-yarder off a draw play in the second quarter on a third-and-15 play. Pittman battled back spasms throughout the game and left the contest early in the third quarter. When he came back into the game, Pittman fumbled on Tampa Bay’s 31-yard line, which allowed Chicago to recover and eventually score an offensive touchdown, which made the score 13-7. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden benched Pittman for a few plays in favor of Jamel White, who rushed four times for 5 yards. When Pittman returned, the Bears defense tried its best to make him fumble again, but to no avail. Pittman came up big with his touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

One of the reasons Pittman had to come back in the game after he fumbled and was hurt was because fullback Mike Alstott suffered what appeared to be a devastating knee injury in the third quarter when he was tackled in the backfield. Not only did Alstott get hurt on the play, but he fumbled the ball, which gave the Bears the ball on Tampa Bay’s 33-yard line. The Bucs defense was, however, able to forced the Bears to punt. Alstott carried the ball seven times for 29 yards (4.1 avg.) and had two big runs (10 and 14-yarder) in the first quarter that helped to set up K Martin Gramatica’s first field goal. On Tampa Bay’s first passing play of the game, Alstott and left tackle Derrick Deese allowed Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris to push through protection and sack Griese.

*The Buccaneers rushed 37 times for 138 yards (3.7 avg.) on Sunday.

GRADE: B+


WIDE RECEIVERS:
Bucs rookie WR Michael Clayton led the team in receptions with six for 62 yards. Clayton’s biggest grab came in the second quarter when he hauled in a 6-yard pass from QB Brian Griese for a touchdown, which put the Pewter Pirates up 10-0. In the third quarter, Clayton came up huge by drawing pass interference on third down, which gave the Bucs a first down. He followed that up by hauling in two passes from Griese. In addition to his six catches, one of which was for a score, Clayton had an outstanding day in terms of blocking for the running game.

Joe Jurevicius started in place of the injured Charles Lee at the split-end (X) position. He had two catches for 21 yards, including a 13-yarder off a nice slant pattern in the second quarter, which picked up a key first down. Jurevicius also got open in the end zone on that drive, but Griese just overthrew him. The Bucs would, however, still score a few plays later.

Tim Brown had one catch for 13 yards, which came in the second quarter on third-and-13. That catch kept Tampa Bay’s drive alive and allowed the Bucs to eventually score a touchdown.

*The Buccaneers had 293 yards of total offense against the Bears.

GRADE: B


TIGHT ENDS:
Bucs tight ends Ken Dilger and Will Heller had a decent outing in the running game, but they weren’t that involved in the passing game. Heller had the only catch of this group, and it produced just a 3-yard gain. Heller was the intended receiver on Tampa Bay’s 2-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter, but he couldn’t come up with the grab.

GRADE: C


OFFENSIVE LINE:
Tampa Bay’s offensive line, which featured Kenyatta Walker starting at right tackle in place of Todd Steussie for the second consecutive week, was much more effective in the running game than the passing game.

As well as RB Michael Pittman fared (23 carries for 109 yards), he missed some opportunities and running lanes opened up by the O-line in the running game, but he also took advantage of some of those holes by producing big gains via the ground game.

Bucs left tackle Derrick Deese and FB Mike Alstott allowed Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris to push through protection and sack QB Brian Griese on his first passing play of the game, but he didn’t go down again. Griese was, however, under duress at times, which forced some incompletions. Tampa Bay’s O-line cost the Bucs in the fourth quarter when it opened up a nice hole for Pittman to pick up a huge first down on third-and-1, but the play was negated by a penalty called on the right side of the offensive line for being lined up offsides. The Bucs were forced to punt because of that penalty.

GRADE: B+


DEFENSIVE LINE:
Tampa Bay’s defense did what it had to do to shutdown Chicago’s offense by containing Bears tailback Thomas Jones, who rushed just 13 times for 52 yards (4.0 avg.) and one touchdown. Part of the reason Jones was contained was because of the fact that the Bucs jumped out to a 10-0 lead early, which forced the Bears to go to more of a pass-oriented attack. From there Tampa Bay’s defensive line did a nice job of pressuring quarterback Jonathan Quinn, who was benched in the second half in favor of rookie QB Craig Krenzel.

Bucs right defensive end Simeon Rice recorded one sack on each signal caller and finished the game with two tackles, two sacks and one pass defensed.

Second-year DE Dewayne White, who actually saw playing time at nose tackle, sacked Quinn in the first quarter. He dropped what should’ve been a easy interception in the fourth quarter, and had he hauled in the pick, White might have scored. He finished the game with one tackle and two passes defensed.

Left DE Greg Spires recorded three tackles. Tampa Bay’s starting defensive tackles — Anthony McFarland and Chartric Darby — combined to record just one tackle on the day.

*Tampa Bay held Chicago to 76 yards on 20 carries (3.8 avg.) on Sunday.

GRADE: B+


LINEBACKERS:
Tampa Bay’s linebackers had an active game against Chicago. Buccaneers middle LB Shelton Quarles came up with the biggest play of this group in the third quarter by finding a hole on a blitz and sacking Chicago rookie QB Crag Krenzel, which took the Bears out of field goal range. Quarles finished the game with four tackles and shared some playing time with Jeff Gooch, who notched two tackles.

Bucs WLB Derrick Brooks led this group in tackles with eight. Brooks’ biggest play of the game came in the first quarter when he managed to draw a offensive pass interference penalty on WR David Terrell, who blocked Brooks to the ground while a pass was airborne. Although that play happened on the opposite side of the field, the penalty was still called, and it negated a 77-yard touchdown reception by RB Thomas Jones on a screen pass.

Strongside LB Ian Gold had a very quiet game, notching just one tackle.

*Although Tampa Bay’s defense allowed Chicago to have a few big runs on draw plays, it did a nice job of tackling and shutting down the Bears’ ground game.

GRADE: A


SECONDARY:
It really didn’t matter which quarterback the Bears had playing — the Bucs secondary did a phenomenal job of covering Chicago’s receivers.

Bucs free safety Jermaine Phillips led the team in tackles with eight, but he was called for illegal contact in the third quarter, which gave the Bears the ball at the Tampa Bay 34-yard line. Chicago’s less than stellar passing attack allowed the Bucs to bring Phillips up in the box and play the run, and he delivered, evidenced by his tackle total.

Cornerback Ronde Barber came up huge in the fourth quarter with the Bears driving in Bucs territory when he intercepted a tipped pass thrown by rookie QB Craig Krenzel and returned it to the Bears’ 11-yard line. That turnover led to RB Michael Pittman’s touchdown run, which put the Bucs up 19-7. Barber finished the game with six tackles, one interception and one pass defensed. He was also flagged for illegal contact in the first quarter, which gave the Bears a first down.

Bucs CB Brian Kelly finished the game with three tackles and one pass defensed. Strong safety Dwight Smith quietly recorded five tackles against the Bears.

*Chicago’s quarterbacks completed 14-of-28 pass attempts (50 percent) for 116 yards for a quarterback rating of 46.1.

GRADE: A


SPECIAL TEAMS:
Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica rebounded from his two-miss performance last Monday night against St. Louis by drilling two 22-yard field goals against Chicago.

Bucs kickoff returner Torrie Cox had two returns for 45 yards (22.5 avg.).

Punt return Tim Brown allowed a first quarter punt to bounce 15 yards to the Bucs’ 4-yard line. He fielded two punts and averaged 7 yards per return.

Middle linebacker Keith Burns forced Bears kickoff returner Jason McKie to fumble the opening kickoff of the second half, which allowed Cox to recover on Chicago’s 44-yard line. That turnover helped to set up Gramatica’s second 22-yard field goal, which put the Bucs up 13-0.

GRADE: A-


COACHING:
Bucs head coach Jon Gruden’s playcalling wasn’t as sharp as it had been over the past two weeks, but it was efficient. One has to wonder why Gruden didn’t call more play-action plays, especially with the offensive line and RB Michael Pittman establishing a potent ground attack early.

Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s troops had a solid outing, and his blitz call for MLB Shelton Quarles in the third quarter turned out to be huge. Special teams coach Richard Bisaccia’s group deserves credit for being the most consistent unit on the team this season. It was very productive against Chicago on Sunday.

GRADE: B+
This story is intended to be read only by PewterInsider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers. Be sure to read the latest issue of Pewter Report on-line in PDF format on PewterReport.com. Buccaneers merchandise in the world.

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