The Chicago Bears haven’t made it easy for themselves the past couple of weeks, but what matters is that they have now won two consecutive games after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
While a big share of the credit for the game has to go to the Bears’ defense as a whole, as they only gave up 13 points and forced four turnovers in the contest, their defensive line play was what really set them apart. They racked up five sacks on the afternoon, and their aggressive approach paid dividends as Josh McCown could never quite get settled into the passing game.
The Bears’ defensive line was also instrumental in holding the Buccaneers to just 66 yards of rushing on the day, with Doug Martin carrying the ball 11 times for just 27 yards.
The big plays of the day came on the turnovers that the line forced. There was the first quarter interception that McCown threw, forced by Stephen Paea’s penetration through the center of the line. McCown also fumbled the ball away in the third quarter, with David Bass outmuscling Tampa Bay right tackle Demar Dotson and slapping the ball out of the quarterback’s hands.
The biggest play of the game came on a Tampa possession late in the fourth quarter. With the Buccaneers facing a fourth-and-one play in Bears territory, McCown attempted to run a quarterback sneak up the middle of the field. Pushing forward, the Bears’ defensive tackles were able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, and Jared Allen made the key stop as he wrapped up McCown’s legs and Ryan Mundy finished the job over the top as he grabbed McCown’s upper torso.
The play was a perfect encapsulation of everything that the line did correctly during the game. They got pressure around the edges with Allen, and Jeremiah Ratliff’s initial push allowed Mundy to jump over the top of the pile to keep McCown short of the first down marker and essentially seal the game for the Bears.
All season long the Bears have struggled to get pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback, the team could be starting to turn a corner with their results over the past few weeks. The real test will come as they face a Detroit Lions team on Thanksgiving, but if they can get the kind of play they got from their tackles and ends on Sunday, it could be a sad holiday for their NFC North rivals.