By: Garrett Ballard
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Chicago Bears 27-17 in their first home game of the season. Contributions on both sides of the ball held off a late Chicago push to propel the Bucs to 2-0 on the season.
The Buccaneers, coming off what many would describe as an upset in Minnesota, looked to beat another NFC North team, but this time in the Tampa heat. The stars shined in Tampa on Sunday, as Mike Evans and Shaquille Barrett had big games to lead the Bucs to this win.
Evans, who had 171 yards on six receptions, is the second-leading receiver in the NFL. Evans, after a rumor-filled last few weeks, has proved he is entirely focused on football.
“We’re lucky to have him,” said Baker Mayfield. He added that he is the best off-coverage go-ball route runner in the league. This is Evans’ 10th career game with at least 150 yards receiving, the most in Buccaneers history.
On the defensive side of the ball, star edge rusher Shaquille Barrett proved once again why he is so important to this team.
Barrett finished the game with two tackles, one quarterback hit, 1.0 sack, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. That marks Barrett’s first career touchdown and improves his sack total with the Buccaneers to 41.5.
“I couldn’t be denied,” Barrett said of his interception. “The offense did it for us last week, and this was our time to return the favor.”
Barrett has had a challenging last year, between an Achilles tear and the loss of his daughter, Barrett has had to overcome a lot to get back to this place. Barrett, who wears a heart-shaped necklace with a picture of his daughter on it postgame, has dedicated this season to his daughter.
“I told her, ‘I love you. I miss you, and I wish you were here,” Barrett said.
“You can’t even fathom going through something like that,” coach Todd Bowles said. “To see him go through something like that, and I’m sure he still has his days, but to play like he’s playing right now, to be where he is right now is unbelievable.”
Other notable performances on the day included Mayfield’s 317 passing yards, Christian Izien’s 2nd interception in as many games, and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka’s two sacks of Justin Fields.
The Buccaneers host the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night in Tampa next week.