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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Chicago Bears: Buc Shots

Barber nearly cashes in on big day

. With 14 career touchdowns, CB Ronde Barber is a rare defensive player who can change the scoreboard. On Sunday, Barber tackled RB Matt Forte in the end zone for a safety with 4:49 remaining in the first quarter.

On the Bears' next series, Barber drifted into the right flat and got both hands on a pass by Jay Cutler. But he dropped what likely would have been an interception return for a touchdown.

"I couldn't believe it," Barber said.

"That was a gift."

Barber finished with five tackles, including a 6-yard sack on third and goal during the fourth quarter, one quarterback hit and three passes defensed.

The sack was the 27th of his 15-year career, the most among defensive backs in NFL history.

"I was just keying the ball," he said of the sack. "As soon as the ball moved, I moved.

"I don't know who had me. It was probably the center, but he couldn't get his hand up because he was snapping the ball with the wrong hand. I was on the right side."

Running on empty

E arnest Graham was set to be a big part of the Bucs offense Sunday. Filling in for the injured LeGarrette Blount, he rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries in the previous week's win over New Orleans. But on the Bucs' first play of their second possession, Graham slipped after catching a short pass. He did not return and was in a walking boot after the game. His status has not been announced. However, reported it's a season-ending torn right Achilles' tendon.

Then things went from bad to worse.

On the ensuing punt, FB Erik Lorig hurt his shoulder, although he was able to return.

"Any time you lose a player like (Graham), it always affects you on offense," coach Raheem Morris said. "But we're a team of next man up. It was (Kregg) Lumpkin's turn. You've got to step up and be better than the starter. That's just our mentality. It's what the head coach believes. It's what the organization believes."

With Graham out, Lumpkin rushed eight times for only 15 yards, a 1.9-yard average, and 13 of those yards came on one play.

Blount, who has missed two games with a sprained knee sustained at San Francisco, could be ready to play after the bye week at New Orleans. But the Bucs have to address their thin running back situation.

Allen Bradford, a sixth-round pick in April, was claimed off waivers by the Seahawks after being released by the Bucs two weeks ago. Tampa Bay most likely will sign Mossis Madu, an undrafted rookie free agent currently on its practice squad.

"Lorig sucked it up and was able to come back," Morris said. "We do have to address that position. Luckily, we have a bye week in order to do that. We're able to get that done and get some practices in and, hopefully, get these guys ready to go."

Tanard injured during interception return

. S Tanard Jackson hasn't wasted any time making a splash since returning from a 56-week substance-abuse suspension. During the first quarter, he picked off Jay Cutler, his second interception in as many games since being reinstated, and returned it 43 yards. But Jackson had to pull up when he strained his left hamstring and did not return.

On the Bears' next possession, Marion Barber ripped off a 29-yard run, making backup S Corey Lynch miss at the line of scrimmage. Lynch did record an interception during the fourth quarter.

Jackson and RB Earnest Graham (see above) weren't the only ones hurt:

• FB Erik Lorig injured his shoulder while covering a punt but returned.

• LB Mason Foster aggravated an ankle injury during the first quarter and did not return.

• Foster's backup, Adam Hayward, aggravated a foot injury but stayed in the game.

• C Jeremy Zuttah, replacing injured starter Jeff Faine, went out in the second half with a knee injury.

• DT Brian Price sustained a right leg injury but came back.

The team's bye week comes at a good time to get players back. RB LeGarrette Blount (knee) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who missed their second games, could return Nov. 6 at New Orleans.

Forte runs over Bucs

. The Bears' Matt Forte, below, had a big day, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries (a 5.8-yard average). In fact, only offensive coordinator Mike Martz's decision to take the ball out of his hands, after 108 first-half yards, slowed him (10 carries in the second half compared with 15 in the first).

Injuries contributed to the Bucs' problems.

LB Mason Foster aggravated an ankle injury early and did not return. S Tanard Jackson strained a hamstring while returning an interception. Gerald McCoy missed the game with an ankle injury, and fellow DT Brian Price was in and out of the game with a right leg injury.

All told, the Bears rolled up 177 yards on the ground, including 39 on six carries (6.5 average) by backup Marion Barber.

"We didn't stop the run early," CB Ronde Barber said. "They gave us everything we knew was coming.

"The one long (32-yard run by Forte), we had two guys on the ground. He's a talented runner, makes you pay when you're out of position. We didn't answer them."

Talib loses control

. The Bucs' fourth-quarter comeback might have been a little less difficult if not for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against CB Aqib Talib.

Trailing by a field goal, CB Ronde Barber sacked Jay Cutler for a 6-yard loss on third and goal from the Tampa Bay 4. Assuming the Bears kicked a field goal, the Bucs would have gotten the ball back with about 3½ minutes to play and three timeouts, needing a touchdown to win.

But following the play, Talib got in the face of Bears WR Roy Williams, and referee Tony Corente ruled Talib grabbed Williams' face mask.

Talib would not comment after the game.

"You can go watch the tape," he said. "I got nothing for you."

Matt Forte ran the ball three times, and the Bucs held the Bears to a 25-yard field goal. But by the time they got the ball back after the kickoff, there was only 1:50 remaining.

"The problem with us, we're too young," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "We're foolish. We almost made the same mistake on offense, and we just can't do those things.

"That's a reflection of the head coach. That is completely my fault."

Quick hits

. WR Dezmon Briscoe had career highs of six catches and 74 yards and caught his first touchdown of the season (second of his career), a 24-yarder from Josh Freeman.

. DE Adrian Clayborn recorded his team-high third sack of the season.

. TE Kellen Winslow extended his streak of games with a catch to 83. He finished with four for 25 yards and a touchdown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Chicago Bears: Buc Shots 10/23/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 23, 2011 10:36pm]
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