It was like watching Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks of the Super Bowl Bucs defense... Noah Spence leading the barrage of four first-half turnovers, Lavonte David running sideline to sideline taking down every Bear in sight, on his way to 9 tackles.
Or like Lee Roy Selmon from the ’79 playoff defense...Rookie Kendall Beckwith spearheading the charge that pitched a virtual shutout of the Bears’ rush offense, holding them to 20 yards.
As they faced a season with the highest expectations in 10 years, the Bucs dominated the Bears, 29-7, in the opener that was delayed a week by Hurricane Irma.
Make no mistake, since the Bears already made plenty, the Bucs’ defense fueled this convincing victory. They forced four turnovers in the first half alone and rode that to a 26-0 lead that made the second half a mere formality.
“Two of those were red-zone turnovers,” said new safety T.J. Ward. “They swung the momentum to us. It was a great day for the defense.”
The former Buc, Mike Glennon, threw for over 300 yards against his old team, but a lot of that was in garbage time in the 4th quarter. He completed 31 of 45 passes to his teammates.. 33 if you count the Bucs’ interceptions. Given time to throw, he was accurate, although a lot was dink and dunk stuff. The defensive pressure forced him to throw the two picks, and cough up the football on a Noah Spence sack. Fans could really see some of the great Bucs’ defenses of the past, with Sunday’s performance.
“We can be number-1, with the defensive talent we have in that room,” said Ward. “We have great players, great talent, and that work effort. We definitely have championship material in that locker room.”
The offense didn’t look half bad either... 20 points in the first half before CB Robert McClain returned a pick for a touchdown that sent the wounded Bears to the locker room down 26-0. No one was satisfied, though, with many players saying that when they have a team down, they have to step on their throat...not play cautiously and respond with just 3 points in the second half.
But they have an entire season to pick up the pace. This was a terrific start for a team whose starters hadn’t played in a game in three weeks.They looked like the Bucs of old, which is a great vision if they want to end that 10-year playoff drought.