ReFo: Buccaneers @ Bears, Week 12
It’s odd when you come into a game with the team with the 2-8 record in a better position in terms of the push for the playoffs that the team at 4-6 but that’s how we started the day as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers headed to Chicago to take on the Bears.
The day didn’t end that way, however, with the Bears edging the Buccaneers on the balance of making fewer mistakes on offense, and a strong performance from their defensive line, including one key standout. With both teams aiming to keep their playoff hopes alive there were a number of notable performances, so with that in mind, let’s take a look at them now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Performances of Note
Josh McCown, QB: -4.3
Breakdown: Not a great day at the office for the Tampa Bay signal-caller as he struggled inside a rain-soaked Soldier Field. Grading negatively while under pressure and without it, he certain wasn’t helped by an offensive line that allowed pressure on 26 of his 55 drop-backs.
Signature Stat: Completed 10-of-19 attempted passes under pressure, including an interception.
Evan Dietrich-Smith, C: -4.9
Breakdown: EDS struggled from the word go as a pass protector in this one, with the Bears’ aggressive defensive line giving him problems with straight up blocks, along with stunts and twists. Allowed six total pressures over the course of the game.
Signature Play: Q3, 6.11 remaining. Here he was beaten clean to his left by defensive tackle Stephen Paea for the pressure, one of the six he surrendered on Sunday.
Alterraun Verner, CB: +3.0
Breakdown: One of the few bright spots for the Buccaneers was the play of the returning Verner. A player who isn’t afraid to commit in run support, he showed that again here while giving up just 5 yards in coverage.
Signature Play: Q1, 13:59 remaining. Showing the coverage skills that saw him limit receivers to just 5 yards against him, here he forced the incompletion on the slant route.
Chicago Bears – Performances of Note
Stephen Paea, DT: +5.7
Breakdown: Far too much for the interior of the Tampa Bay offensive line as a pass rusher, Paea finished the game with 10 total pressures on quarterback Josh McCown. He couldn’t match that output against the run, but when you consider that he registered just 17 total pressures throughout all of 2013, it’s easy to see how big a game he had yesterday.
Signature Stat: Getting better as the game went on, five of his pressures came in the fourth quarter, denting the Buccaneers’ comeback hopes with some impressive play.
Ryan Mundy and Chris Conte, S: +5.0 combined
Breakdown: With the success of the Bears defense up front, they also got great production from their safeties. Mundy was excellent close to the line of scrimmage, picking up several defensive stops, while in coverage it was Conte who came away with an interception in coverage.
Signature Play: Q1 6:57 remaining. That early interception by Conte set the tone for the Bears’ defense early, with him snagging the ball out of the air after a hit lead to the McCown pass being undethrown.
Jay Cutler, QB: -1.6
Breakdown: It was the sort of game where really he only had to avoid mistakes given the errors Tampa Bay were making on their own. Still it wasn’t a great performance, as he too struggled in the rain, with too many passes falling short or wide of their intended target. He was smart though, and didn’t take too many risks with the ball.
Signature Stat: Attempted just three passes of 10 yards or longer, completing two for 41 yards.
PFF Game Ball
That was something really special from Stephen Paea, and the sort of performance that few would have expected. Dominant as a pass rusher, he beat the Tampa Bay interior straight up and on stunts and twists with ease.
Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon