TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 204 yards and one touchdown Sunday, helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers return from an unscheduled bye week forced by Hurricane Irma to open the season with a 29-7 rout of the mistake-prone Chicago Bears.
The defense stymied former teammate Mike Glennon with four turnovers. Robert McClain returned one of the quarterback’s two interceptions for a TD, and the Bucs didn’t let the Bears into the end zone until Deonte Thompson scored on a 14-yard reception with 1:43 remaining.
The Bucs (1-0) dominated despite having a short week of practice following the massive storm that forced postponement of the team’s scheduled season opener at Miami.
Winston completed 18 of 30 passes without an interception. He threw a 13-yard TD pass to Mike Evans, who had seven catches for 93 yards.
Glennon, who signed with Chicago as a free agent last winter, was 31 of 45 for 301 yards and two interceptions in his return to Raymond James Stadium. The Bears (0-2) finished with 310 yards total offense, 1 yard less than a Bucs offense that hasn’t had much work in the past month.
By the time he lined up to face the Bears, Winston hadn’t taken a snap in a game in three weeks. Eight regulars, including Evans, receiver DeSean Jackson, linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, hadn’t seen game action in a month.
The Bucs insisted, though, that they would not use rustiness as an excuse if they had a less-than-sharp debut. The way the Bears played, the layoff never had a chance to become an issue.
After opening the season with a solid performance in a 23-17 loss to defending NFC champion Atlanta, the Bears turned over the ball four times in the opening half, helping Winston build a 26-0 halftime lead.
If Chicago had an advantage entering the game, it figured to be Glennon’s knowledge of the Tampa Bay defense. The fifth-year pro faced it in practice every day the past four seasons, the last two as Winston’s backup.
And while the Bears did have some success moving the ball, the barrage of turnovers was too much to overcome.
Glennon’s first-half miscues led to two touchdowns. Rookie Tarik Cohen’s ill-advised decision to scoop a punt off the ground and run with it deep in Bears territory set up Tampa Bay’s first TD, Winston’s 13-yard pass to Evans.
Noah Spence sacked Glennon, forcing a second-quarter fumble that led to Jacquizz Rodgers’ 1-yard TD run. McClain’s interception and return up the sideline on Chicago’s next possession hiked the lead to 23-0.
Bears: OL Tom Compton (hip) and LB Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) did not play in the second half.
Buccaneers: Alexander left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.
Bears: Return home to face Pittsburgh.
Buccaneers: Play road opener at Minnesota, which played Sunday without QB Sam Bradford.