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Bucs-Bears report card: Answered prayers for a team that needed a win

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a very long reception for a first down during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a very long reception for a first down during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

It was a game that went from Hail Mary to Hail Jameis.

Jameis Winston's spin, twist, turn scramble and throw was worth the price of admission.

The Bucs regained entry into this football season with a 36-10 rout of the Chicago Bears.

And don't forget Chris Conte's interception return for a touchdown to go with a defense that forced four first-half Chicago turnovers and exposed Jay Cutler for what he is: Jay Cutler.

True, the Bucs let the guard down with that Hail Mary touchdown by Chicago. But there was more than enough to answer prayers for a team that badly needed a win.

Back, back, back!

Grade: A

Jameis Winston didn't tell Mike Evans to go deep and cut in at the cars. It wasn't street ball, but it was close, and it was the most spectacular play of this game, the most important one.

The Bears had the momentum after a Hail Mary touchdown just before halftime. The Bucs led 17-10, but it was third and 10 at their own 23. Winston took the snap and eluded the rush. Then he eluded the rush. Then he eluded the rush. Twist, turn, twist, pirouette. He went in reverse 25 yards, into the end zone, then stepped up and hit Mike Evans 39 yards downfield. The Bucs scored on the next play. Play of the game, maybe the season.

Way to bring the country together, guys

Grade: F

Haven't we had enough partisan politics? In the first half of the game, Bucs offensive lineman Demar Dotson was called for no less than three penalties by officials who were clearly Clinton supporters. Right? Must have been that. Meanwhile, back at Evans' Trump protest …

Mr. Smith's Legion of Doom

Grade: A

Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith wanted more intensity out of his sagging defense after last week's dreary performance against Atlanta. The Bucs got just that. They brought blitzes and they brought passion, and it helped produce four turnovers in the first half. Along with Conte's interception return for a TD, throw in a huge sack and strip by defensive lineman Noah Spence to kill a Chicago drive.

A helping hand

Grade: A

I'm sure there were Bucs fans who didn't like that Bucs Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy was the first to comfort Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long after Long was placed on a cart with an ankle injury. Yeah, just McCoy being soft, right? I say it was McCoy being a good, good man — so good that a lot of Bears began to show up to comfort Long after he got there first. Every mother and father should show their children McCoy at that cart. This is how you carry yourself.

Whuh happen?

Grade: F

It was their only true boo-boo of the day, but the Bucs fell asleep at the wheel just before halftime, turning off the blitz, which allowed the mostly hapless Cutler to run around, then throw deep into the back of the end zone, where it landed in the hands of receiver Cameron Meredith as time ran out. The ball was all but batted into Meredith's arms by Conte's swipe, a perfect feed, as if it was an egg race or something.

Rusty, but present

Grade: I

Bucs running back Doug Martin returned to the field for the first time since his hamstring injury in Week 2. He carried 16 times for 33 yards, including one 10-yard run. There wasn't much doing, and a banged-up Bucs offensive line, game as it was, didn't help. The Bucs will need more from the run game follow up on this win.

Bucs-Bears report card: Answered prayers for a team that needed a win 11/13/16 [Last modified: Sunday, November 13, 2016 8:55pm]
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