Turning Point: A Few Inches to the Right

Despite another solid performance from the defense, the Buccaneers were in position to tie the game with a chip shot field goal. A 29-yard attempt by Matt Bryant sailed wide right and with it went Tampa's chance for a come from behind victory.

The Bears took a 13-3 lead into the final period. Tampa cut the deficit to 13-10 on an 11-play 50-yard drive. Although it was disappointing to see the defense surrender their first touchdown in 38 possessions, it took the Buccaneers 6:28 to reach the end zone. By the time FB Mike Alstott leapt over the goal line there was only seven minutes left in the game.

On the ensuing drive, Kyle Orton hit Muhsin Muhammad for 13 yards on first down. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner called another pass, but this time Orton threw the ball away and was called for intentional grounding. The offense failed to pickup another first down and had to give the ball back to Tampa.

The Buccaneers took over with just over five minutes left and needing 50 yards for a realistic field goal try for Bryant, who had a career long of 47 yards. On the first play QB Chris Simms hit WR Joey Galloway for a short completion, but his speed allowed him to turn up field and take the catch 30 yards. Two plays later, Galloway picked up 16 more yards on a pass from Simms. Inside the red zone the Buccaneers gained eight yards on two carries, leaving them several options on 3rd and two.

Tampa head coach Jon Gruden elected to put the ball in Simms' hands. SS Mike Brown, who had two missed tackles on the previous scoring drive, got in Simms' face and his pass sailed out of bounds.

Bryant came on for a 29-yard field goal attempt and he pushed the ball wide right. He was 14-of-15 from inside 50 yards coming into the game and hit a 45-yard game winning field goal a week earlier.

While the offense failed to eat up the remaining 2:47 on the clock, a 12-yard run by Thomas Jones allowed Chicago to hold the ball for an extra 1:45.

Following a 52-yard punt by Brad Maynard the Buccaneers took over at their 29 with just 15 seconds on the clock and no timeouts. A sack by LE Adewale Ogunleye fittingly ended the game because the defense is the only thing that kept the Bears from dropping the game.

"With a 10-point lead you're feeling pretty good with our defense," said head coach Lovie Smith. "They got a little momentum going there at the end but with the pressure we were able to get up front with Alex (Brown), Wale (Ogunleye) and rest of the guys (they) really came through for us."

Even though the defense faltered in the fourth quarter, the blame also has to go on the offense. On three possessions, the unit produced just two first downs and held the ball for less than six minutes.

"We know we're going to get it done," Orton said. "It seems like that missed field goal even, when you're a good football team you keep on pressing on people and you press them into mistakes. That's what we're doing, we're wearing people."

Things might have turned out differently if Tampa could have converted what amounted to little more than an extra point. The miss allowed the offense to be conservative instead of having to come up a big play to win the game on the road.

"We knew it was going to be one of those games where every point counted, every yard counted," said Brown. "We won by two or three inches. If the ball goes left two or threes they make the field goal. But it didn't and we won."


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