Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs edge Bears 27-24 in overtime


Above anything else, Michael Clayton proved he can take a punch. Knocked down for most of the past three seasons, the Bucs' beleaguered receiver finally showed some fight when his team needed it most. Brian Griese had overcome three interceptions to rally Tampa Bay from two scores down in the fourth quarter and force overtime against the Bears. But after going three-and-out and with his team facing a punt from its end zone, a skirmish broke out. Clayton was right in the middle of it and found himself on the receiving end of a haymaker from cornerback Charles Tillman. Of all the big plays the Bucs made in Sunday's 27-24 overtime win over the Bears, this one proved to be the biggest. Tillman was penalized for unnecessary roughness, extending a drive that would result in Matt Bryant's winning 21-yard field goal with 4:21 left.

"I made a legal block that's very aggressive; just trying to clean up the pile," Clayton said. "It's like, 'Okay here we go. It's on. I'm going to hit you. Hit me back.' I was baiting him to make a little fight out of it. Draw a little attention. Oh, yeah. And draw the flag. It worked out perfectly."

Like Clayton, the Bucs' corps of wide receivers got up off the deck Sunday. Despite not having Joey Galloway, who stayed home with a foot injury, they caught the ball in traffic, caught it on third down, caught it 38 times for 407 yards in 67 attempts — just three shy of the NFL record.

Maybe now they won't catch as much flak?

"When you throw the ball (67) times, you should have some completions," coach Jon Gruden said. "You shouldn't be 0-for-(67). But we did some good things. Michael Clayton came back. Antonio Bryant had 10 catches, and I think he'll look at the tape and be mad he didn't have more than that. But we're a work in progress."

Tillman apologized for losing his cool.

"The saying is, 'They always see the second push,' " he said. "I was just trying to swing him off me."

But time and time again, the Bucs' receivers beat Chicago's secondary.

Start with Bryant. After well-documented dustups with coaches Bill Parcells in Dallas and Mike Nolan in San Francisco, he spent all of last season on his couch, wondering if he would get a chance to play in the NFL again. Sunday, Bryant replaced Galloway and finished with a career-high 10 catches for 138 yards, including a 38-yard catch-and-run to the Bears 6 that set up the winning field goal.

"Ask (Griese) how his arm feels. I know I'm gassed," Bryant, 27, said. "I feel like I really got broken in this game as far as not playing for awhile and being in this type of game, this atmosphere. I think it was a great experience for me."

Griese, who understandably iced his arm after the game, credited the stamina of Bryant and others for keeping the pressure on the Bears.

"They ran a bunch of routes, and the endurance they had was amazing," Griese, 33, said. "For Antonio Bryant to make that play at the end of the game and have the juice left in his legs to get by the corner there, that's a huge play for us."

Consider Ike Hilliard, who at 32 is the team's leading receiver this season. Sunday, he finished with six catches for 57 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown in the first quarter that gave the Bucs a 7-6 lead.

"We need everybody to come out and make plays on a regular basis, and we need to be consistent about that. It can't be up and down," Hilliard said. "That's why it's got to be tough for those guys in the other locker room. If you create four turnovers in your home stadium and you lose, it's got to be gut-wrenching."

Of course, when you throw as many footballs as some starting pitchers do through five innings, the chances keep coming. Clayton said he hadn't had this feeling since 2004, when he was a rookie of the year candidate. Keeping the faith gave him and the Bucs a puncher's chance.

"When you're getting the ball, you tend to go back to normality," Clayton said. "I've always felt like the guy of '04. I just had the opportunity, and I'm thankful for that. I'll continue to work, and we'll see what happens next week."

63 yards, 12 plays

Result: Bryant 35-yard field goal

Score: 24-17 Bears Time left: 3:11

79 yards, 11 plays

Result: Griese to Stevens, 1-yard TD

Score: 24-24 Time left: 0:07

90 yards, 12 plays

Result: Bryant 21-yard field goal

Score: 27-24 Bucs Time left: 4:21 OT


Extra football

Sunday's victory improved the Bucs to 12-14-1 in overtime games and marked just their second overtime win under coach Jon Gruden:

Sunday at Chicago27-24 W

12-17-06at Chicago34-31 L

12-24-05 Atlanta27-24 W

10-6-03 Indy38-35 L

9-14-03 Carolina12-9 L

9-8-02 N. Orleans26-20 L

Bucs edge Bears 27-24 in overtime 09/21/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 28, 2008 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jose De Leon sent back to minors after helping Rays win


    RHP Jose De Leon worked 2 2/3 innings to get the win in his Rays debut Monday and then was optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

    De Leon was brought up to provide length and depth in the bullpen after the Rays played 15 innings on Sunday, and he did that, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 69 …

  2. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    The Rays had good reason to have faith in RHP Erasmo Ramirez starting Monday after closing Sunday based on his resiliency, versatility and efficiency. But it still turned out to be a bad idea as he allowed four runs without getting through three innings.

  4. Rays journal: Dugout bench becomes bed for Logan Morrison at end of long night

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays found creative ways to get through the physical and mental fatigue of the 6½ hours they spent playing — and ultimately winning — Sunday's game in Minnesota.

    Corey Dickerson drapes towels over an exhausted Logan Morrison in the dugout during the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon victory.
  5. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, Arlington, Texas

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Rangers

    8:05, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)