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Defense, Jameis Winston carry Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

By
Greg Auman, The Sports Xchange
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jameis Winston passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forced four turnovers on the way to their first home win of the season, beating the Chicago Bears 36-10 on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

"I thought our D was a lot more aggressive today," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said, happy for the home win after missing his first four tries as head coach. "We needed to pressure more. We needed to add on more on our blitzes. I thought our guys did a heck of a job with that today."

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Safety Chris Conte got a pick-six against his old team, celebrating so excitedly that he headbutted his coach, opening a small cut above his eye.

It's the second-most lopsided Bucs win ever against the Bears in 57 all-time meetings, topped only by a 41-0 win in Tampa at 2000.

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Winston passed for two touchdowns to lead Tampa Bay (4-5), and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had two interceptions and a fumble in the first half as the Bears (2-7) dropped to 0-5 on the road this season.

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"We didn't play well. I didn't play well," Cutler said. "Too many turnovers, and when you have that many turnovers, it's going to be hard to win."

Winston connected with tight end Cameron Brate for six catches and 70 yards in the first half alone, including his fifth touchdown. He finished with seven catches for 84 yards.

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Chicago trailed 17-3 in the final minute of the first half, but went 83 yards in 26 seconds, as Cutler threw a 50-yard Hail Mary for a touchdown to Cameron Meredith as time expired, cutting Tampa Bay's lead to 17-10.

"We talked at halftime: Let's not let one lucky play ruin an excellent half of football," Koetter said.

Tampa Bay dominated the third quarter, with Winston throwing a 43-yard touchdown to receiver Freddie Martino and the Bucs adding a Roberto Aguayo field goal and a safety when Robert Ayers sacked Cutler in the end zone and the fumble went out the back of the end zone for a 29-10 lead.

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Tampa Bay outgained the Bears by a margin of 138 to minus-5 in the quarter.

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The Bucs won despite playing two offensive linemen who made their NFL debuts -- Ben Gottschalk stepped in at center when Evan Smith had a knee injury, and rookie Caleb Benenoch played the entire game at left guard.

The Bears lost two starting linemen in the first half, as guard Kyle Long had to be carted off with an ankle injury and tackle Bobby Massie suffered a concussion.

Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin returned for the first time in eight weeks, rushing for 32 yards on 13 carries in the first three quarters, along with a 13-yard catch. He added a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

NOTES: Bears rookie RB Jordan Howard finished with 100 rushing yards but was on pace for much more with 89 in the first half. The Bears threw more in the second half after they fell behind. ... The Buccaneers had four interceptions in the first eight games, then two in the first 10 minutes against Bears QB Jay Cutler. ... The Buccaneers picked up ground in the standings as the other three teams in the NFC South all lost Sunday.

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