After playing an impressive first half and building a 21-5 lead four minutes and 28 seconds into the third quarter, the Bears allowed Tampa Bay back in the game, and the Bucs almost rallied to steal it at London's Wembley Stadium.
It wasn't until D.J. Moore's interception with 37 seconds left, the Bears' fourth of the game, that the winners could exhale. The Bears were outscored 13-3 after Marion Barber's 12-yard touchdown run with 10:32 left in the third quarter.
"We had a great first half, came out hot," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "(In) the third quarter, things went downhill for us. We know we've got to get back and clean that stuff up and finish games, put the defense in tough spots. We just got to get better."
But the four interceptions helped preserve a 24-18 victory, leaving both teams with 4-3 records heading into their off weeks. That's the same mark the Bears had a year ago at their break when they went on to win the NFC North with an 11-5 record.
LB Lance Briggs
The Bears' next game isn't until Nov. 7, a Monday night trip to Philadelphia to play the Eagles.
It may not have meant much to the 76,981 in attendance, many of whom seemed most excited only when the ball was kicked or punted, but the victory pushed the Bears back into playoff relevance. Coupled with the Lions' loss at home to the Falcons, the Bears are now just one game behind Detroit for second place in the NFC North behind the 7-0 Packers.
After failing for most of the season to force the turnovers they've come to be known for under coach Lovie Smith, the Bears' four takeaways established a season high. Since Smith came aboard in 2004, the Bears have more takeaways (243) than any team in the NFL. But they had forced just eight turnovers in their first six games and only five in the previous five games.
One thing the Bears have been able to count on all season is consistent production from Matt Forte, and that was the case again on Sunday. The NFL's leader in yards from scrimmage rushed 25 times for 145 yards and caught two passes for 38 yards.
The Bears out-rushed the Bucs 177-30. Since offensive coordinator Mike Martz committed to a balanced attack between run and pass, the Bears are 3-1.
The Bears' pass rush, which accounted for five sacks a week earlier, was absent for much of the game, getting to quarterback Josh Freeman just once, but it did play a part in the four interceptions.
In games when they've run the ball 25 times or more this season, the Bears are 4-1. In their other two games, both losses, the Bears had 12 rushing plays. They've run the ball 25 times or more in their last four games, three of which have been victories.
Right tackle Gabe Carimi, the rookie first-round pick from Wisconsin who started the first two games, is expected back after the off week, when the Bears play the Eagles. It is expected he'll get his job back, and current right tackle Lance Louis will move back to right guard, where he started the season, with Chris Spencer heading to the bench.
--CB D.J. Moore had his third interception of the season, which came in the final minute and preserved the Bears' 24-18 victory. All the other players in the Bears' secondary have a combined one interception.
--FS Chris Conte got his first NFL interception in his second start, thwarting a Bucs potential scoring drive just shy of the goal line.
--PK Robbie Gould missed his first attempt, a 41-yarder, and hit his second, a 25-yarder. Had he connected on both, Gould would have passed Nate Kaeding as the most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history.
--WR Roy Williams had his first touchdown catch as a Bear, and tied his season high with four receptions and had a season-best 59 receiving yards. He also had an egregious drop.
--RB Matt Forte, who entered the week as the NFL leader with 908 yards from scrimmage, added 183 more to that total. He rushed for 145 yards on 25 carries and added 38 yards on two catches.
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