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Bucs 29, Bears 7: Instant analysis from the Times staff

TAMPA — Here's the instant analysis from the Tampa Bay Times' Bucs coverage team from Tampa Bay's 29-7 victory over Chicago in the season-opener Sunday at Raymond James Stadium:

RUST? WHAT RUST?

The Bucs were not rusty at all despite the starters being off for three weeks. The Bears are bad. Real bad. And that will be the national story this week. But don't let that diminish just how good the Bucs were. This was a complete and dominant victory. Where's the parade route start?

-- Tom Jones, @tomwjones

DA BUCS

The road to 16-0 starts here. Sorry, the heat got to me. But so did Sunday. The Bucs were that impressive. Yes, there was the opponent, the awful Bears and their awful quarterback, dear old Bucs pal Mike Glennon. But the Bucs forgot Irma anxiety and delays, pushed past excuses and summarily wiped out a terrible football team in the manner befitting a good one.

-- Martin Fennelly, @martinjfennelly

BUCS DEFENSE MAY BE DOMINANT

The biggest takeaway is that the defense may actually lead this team.

All the weapons for quarterback Jameis Winston are nice. But when you force three turnovers and get another one on special teams in the first half — even against Glennon — it's a great sign.

The Bucs were third in takeaways in the NFL a year ago. Taking the ball away is how you win games in the NFL.

-- Rick Stroud, @StroudNFL

DEFENSE DIDN'T MISS A STEP

As much attention as the Bucs' upgraded offense deserved in the offseason, it's more impressive that Tampa Bay's defense picked up where it left off in 2016. Four total takeaways in the first half, leading to 20 points, made it a lopsided game quickly. Promisingly stout against the run as well.

-- Greg Auman, @gregauman

WINSTON PROTECTION PLAN

When the Bucs and Bears played last November, Chicago pressured Winston on 43 percent of his dropbacks. Tampa Bay's offensive line, with Ali Marpet at center and J.R. Sweezy at right guard, held up much better this time around. The Bears sacked Winston only twice.

-- Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics.

Lavonte David and the Bucs' defense may actually lead this team, Rick Stroud writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

Lavonte David and the Bucs' defense may actually lead this team, Rick Stroud writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

Bucs 29, Bears 7: Instant analysis from the Times staff 09/17/17 [Last modified: Sunday, September 17, 2017 5:44pm]
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