Bears' 'D' gets help from 'O' in 48-10 romp over Bucs
CHICAGO (AP) — For most of the season, it's been a solo act for Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears' defense.
After quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's breakthrough game Sunday, the Bears' defense and offense seem to be in sync.
The defense made three interceptions and Mack continued pressuring the quarterback, while Trubisky threw for a career-high six touchdown passes in the Bears' 48-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"He came up and showed why he's the guy," Mack said about Trubisky, who completed 19 of 26 passes for 354 yards.
It was supposed to be a matchup between the league's top-ranked Bucs offense and the Bears' best pass-rushing defense. Trubisky changed it.
In improving to 3-1 for the first time since 2013, the Bears turned it into a rout by scoring touchdowns on four straight first-half possessions. All came on passes by Trubisky.
Trubisky finished one TD pass short of the franchise mark set by Sid Luckman against the New York Giants in 1943. It's also an NFL mark Luckman shares with seven others. The Bears racked up 483 yards in this one, nearly matching their record of 488 in that same game.
"It's very humbling because you know the history of the Bears and how many great players have come through this organization," Trubisky said. "For me, you're just trying to create your own legacy and try to make a path."
Trubisky found five different receivers for TDs in the first half and the Bears led 38-3.
"Our defense continues to play lights out," Trubisky said. "It's awesome to take some pressure off them and put some points on the board."
Mack made a strip-sack on Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first half. That gave him a sack and forced fumble in four straight games, the first time it's been done since Robert Mathis for the Indianapolis Colts in 2005.
Down big at the half, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulled Fitzpatrick and inserted Jameis Winston for his first action since a three-game suspension for a league conduct violation.
Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan had one of Chicago's three interceptions on a Winston pass that was deflected by Mack, and the defense made four more sacks after leading the league through three weeks with 14.
"It feels good," Trevathan said. "It feels like we're a complete team."
Here are some things to consider from Chicago's win over Tampa Bay:
PICK-8: The Bears' three interceptions — one each by Trevathan, Aaron Lynch and Eddie Jackson — brought the team's season total to eight.
They had eight in each of the last three full seasons, matching a franchise single-season low. So pass rush pressure is obviously having an effect.
"To see the guys in the back end making plays, that's what you want to see," Mack said. "And being in a position to affect the quarterback to make them make those throws. It's a good feeling, especially going into the bye."
DUSTING OFF: Winston shook off the rust when he came on for Fitzpatrick. Winston was 16 of 20 for 145 yards but had two picks along with one TD pass. Koetter stopped just short of saying who would start when the Bucs play again Oct. 14 at Atlanta, after their bye week.
"Probably," Koetter answered when asked if Winston would start. "But we'll worry about that on another day."
The porous Bucs secondary has been hit hard by injuries, and it showed.
Second-year safety Isaiah Johnson made his first career start, after Chris Conte went on IR and Jordan Whitehead suffered a shoulder injury. Cornerback Carlton Davis aggravated a groin strain during the game.
"I mean, we couldn't play zone. We couldn't play man," Koetter said.
Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will be subjected to a fine and possible suspension after being ejected for pushing an official late in the first half.
The incident occurred after Jackson intercepted a pass by Fitzpatrick. Hicks was involved in a scuffle away from the play with a Buccaneers player. Down judge Mike Carr had separated them when Hicks charged back and pushed the official, referee Jerome Boger told a pool reporter.
"It was just a deliberate act, when he knew the official was there in-between," Boger said.
Hicks, who has three sacks this season, remained on the sideline for a few plays before leaving the field. He then threw his shoulder pads and jersey into the stands.
The Bear lined backup quarterback Chase Daniel up in the backfield twice alongside Trubisky in a trick formation. On one play, Trubisky threw a shovel pass to Taylor Gabriel for a 3-yard TD pass.
Nagy said they gave the play a sweet name when practicing it during the week.
"Willy Wonka," he said.