The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Bears Need OT To Beat Bucs

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Dec 18, 2006 2:04PM

2006_12_sports_bears_week_15.jpgIf Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is any indication of how the defense has been weakened due to injuries and legal troubles, the Bears could be in trouble come January. While they eked out a 34-31 win, they needed overtime to do so in a game that looked wrapped up at halftime. After missing a field goal attempt earlier in OT, kicker Robbie Gould connected on the 25-yard game winner.

Rex Grossman had another mistake-free game, setting career highs with 29 completions, 44 pass attempts and 339 yards — the first Bears QB to throw for over 300 yards since 2002! Grossman threw two TD strikes to Desmond Clark, and he avoided causing any turnovers.

The running game looked decent, if not spectacular. Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson combined for 134 yards on 34 carries. Benson and Jones also each scored a touchdown.

While the offense played fairly well, the defense did not. They allowed Tim Rattay, Tampa Bay's backup QB, to lead the team back from a 24-3 deficit early in the third quarter and tie the game in the fourth. Entering the game, the Bucs hadn't scored a touchdown since the first quarter of their Thanksgiving Day game! And then the number two defense in the NFL allows them four in just one half? Sure, they had starters Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Nathan Vasher and Tank Johnson inactive. Those are four big sets of shoes to fill. Of those four, only Vasher is likely to return to the field by the time of the playoffs begin. Others will need to step up and help solidify the defense.

The offense seems to have turned a corner the past couple weeks, so now is not the time for the defense to fall apart. Fortunately, there are two meaningless games against weak opponents to try and fine tune the team's weaknesses and gear up for the playoffs.

Photo via AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh.