Charles Tillman gave Tampa Bay a second chance. Instead of punting at its own 10-yard-line in overtime, Tampa Bay drove 90 yards in 12 plays for the winning field goal after an unnecessary roughness penalty on Tillman to beat the Chicago Bears 27-24 Sunday.
Charles Tillman gave Tampa Bay a second chance.
Instead of punting at its own 10-yard-line in overtime, Tampa Bay drove 90 yards in 12 plays for the winning field goal after an unnecessary roughness penalty on Tillman to beat the Chicago Bears 27-24 Sunday.
“You have to get off the field – we were off the field,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “It was pretty simple: No matter what is going on, everyone comes off. We’re getting the football. It’s just something you can’t do. It’s an elementary mistake.”
It was also a familiar loss to the Bears (1-2). They upped their lead to 24-14 on Kyle Orton’s 19-yard pass to Brandon Lloyd (124 yards receiving) with 6:38 to play.
At that point, Chicago’s defense had forced four turnovers and held Tampa Bay to three plays or less on eight of the Bucs’ 10 offensive possessions.
Game over, right? Chicago’s defense would clearly close out the win.
“Realistically, that’s what we’re supposed to do,” nickel back Danieal Manning said. “Unfortunately, we’re human. We’re not robots.”
Nor are they a fourth-quarter team. In Chicago’s 11 defeats the last two years, the Bears have surrendered 45 percent of their regulation points in the fourth quarter. Chicago (1-2) also blew a 17-3 second-half lead last week when the defense wilted late after a great start.
“For a team that prides itself on defense to give up 10 points in five or six minutes, that’s just unacceptable,” defensive end Alex Brown said. “Two weeks in a row.
“I don’t know (why). Something is wrong, though. Something is wrong.”
After throwing three interceptions on Tampa’s first 10 possessions, former Bear Brian Griese led Tampa on drives of 12, 11, 9 and 12 plays the last four times the Bucs had the ball. He finished with a career-high 407 yards, including throws of 17, 9 and 38 yards to set up Josh Bidwell’s 21-yard field goal after Tillman’s penalty.
“He’s always calm. Under pressure, nothing gets to him,” Bucs receiver Michael Clayton said of Griese, who led the Bears to three game-tying or game-winning comebacks in six starts last year.
Now he did it to the Bears.
“If you let a team hang around that long and play like that at the end, whether it’s Brian Griese or some other quarterback, it’s going to be a long day,” Smith said.
The Bears let the Bucs hang around because they settled for field goals on their first three scoring drives. And because Kyle Orton put the Bucs (2-1) ahead 14-6 with a horrible interception to Gaines Adams that the defensive end returned 45 yards for a touchdown.
“I just can’t make a mistake like that,” Orton said.
After a slow first half (76 yards, two interceptions), Orton threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. That looked like it would be enough. And it could have been.
Except Orton was stopped on a third-and-2 rollout at the two-minute warning. And Nathan Vasher couldn’t hold onto an interception on Tampa’s game-tying 79-yard touchdown drive that included 74 Griese passing yards. And Rashied Davis dropped a third-down pass in overtime that would have almost put Chicago in field-goal range. And the Bears couldn't sack Griese in 67 pass attempts, not once. And, finally, Tillman was caught shoving a Buc off of defensive end Adewale Ogunleye after a failed third-down play at the 10.
The game had been feisty from the start, with a fight on the game’s first play and three shoving matches in the first-quarter alone.
“I shouldn’t have put myself in that situation,” said Tillman, who forced a Tampa fumble in the second quarter. “I was trying to pull guys off my teammate, and one thing led to another. I’ve got to be smarter than that.”
And the Bears have to finish stronger than that.
“We’ve got to figure this out,” Alex Brown said. “We can’t keep doing this. This is ridiculous. We’re a much better defense than that.”
Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or email@example.com.
Bears defense by quarter
Points allowed by quarter in the Bears’ 11 losses the last two years:
Team Score 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Bucs 27-24 7 7 0 10*
Panthers 20-17 0 3 10 7
Vikings 20-13 0 6 6 8
Redskins 24-16 0 7 7 10
Giants 21-16 0 7 0 14
Seahawks 30-23 7 10 7 6
Lions 16-7 0 13 0 3
Vikings 34-31 7 7 7 13
Lions 37-27 3 0 0 34
Cowboys 34-10 0 3 14 17
Chargers 14-3 0 0 7 7
Totals 277-187 37 63 58 129
* Bucs also scored 3 points in overtime