LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears celebrates scoring a touchdown during the NFL International Series match between Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 23, 2011 in London, England. This is the fifth occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Behind the tour-de-force performance Matt Forte, the Bears beat Tampa Bay 24-18 in London on Sunday. The Bucs second-half comeback fell short, despite a 13-point fourth quarter.
Forte put the Bears on the board first, with two runs that looked like they came straight from a video game. First, he broke loose for a 22-yard run, then broke several tackles and made huge cuts to get to the end zone on a 32-yard run. The Bears had 195 yards rushing, powered by Forte's 45 yards.
He also had a starring role in a bizarre three-play sequence that ended up with the Bucs earning two points. First, Jay Cutler's pass bounced off Marion Barber's hands and into the arms of Tampa Bay's Tanard Jackson. He returned it for 43 yards to bring the Bucs just short of the end zone. Next, rookie Chris Conte got his first career interception, giving the Bears the ball back. With the Bears backed up in their own territory, Forte was tackled in the end zone, giving the Bucs their first safety in six years.
It wasn't the best day for Jay Cutler. He was sacked twice, threw two interceptions and was just 17-32. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay's QB, had a much worse day. He was picked off four times, including a game-ending interception by D.J. Moore that ended Tampa Bay's final push to win.
Injuries hampered the Buccaneers. Running back LeGarrette Blount was inactive, and then their rushing leader Earnest Graham slipped on the turf and sustained an ankle injury.
It was hardly the beautiful game that the NFL would have liked to have happened in London. If British fans were looking for a reason to become football fans, this game was not it. However, it was enough to get the Bears a key win, and bring them to the bye week with a winning record.