Tampa Bay’s two impressive statistical streaks on defense will remain alive into 2003. With DE Ellis Wyms’ second-quarter takedown of Henry Burris, the Buccaneers pushed their run of consecutive games with at least one sack to 60 games. The NFL record, set by Dallas from 1976-80, is 68 games. Also, Derrick Brooks’ second-quarter interception extended the team’s streak of consecutive games with at least one takeaway to 41 games, the longest such streak in the NFL in the last 20 years).
Brad Johnson missed his second consecutive game on Sunday, but that didn’t stop him from breaking several Buccaneer single-season records. By not playing, he froze his passer rating at 92.9, his completion percentage at 62.3% and his interception percentage at 1.3, all three of which are new team standards. The previous marks, respectively, were 85.3 by Steve DeBerg in 1987, 60.8% by Johnson in 2001 and 1.97 by Johnson in 2001. Despite missing three of the team’s 16 games, Johnson also threw a team-record 22 touchdown passes.
Though Pro Bowl S John Lynch’s streaks of consecutive games and starts were stopped at 68 apiece two weeks ago in Detroit, he is still moving up the all-time Buc chart in both categories. On Sunday in Chicago, Lynch made his 118th start as a Buccaneer, taking over sole possession of fourth place in team history. The only players with more starts as a Buccaneer than Lynch are T Paul Gruber (183), C Tony Mayberry (145) and LB Derrick Brooks (125).
After getting four picks and avoiding turning the ball over once on offense against the Bears, the Buccaneers finished the regular season with an excellent plus-17 turnover ratio. That marks the third straight season that the Bucs had that exact ratio, following finishes of plus-17 in both 2000 and 2001. Prior to 2000, the Bucs had finished in double digits on the positive side just once in their first 24 seasons, at a team-record plus-18 in 1981.
The Buccaneers set a new team record for fewest points allowed in a season, as Chicago failed to increase the 196 points scored against Tampa Bay’s top-ranked defense on the season. The previous low for a Buccaneer team was 223 by the 1977 squad, in a 14-game season. The previous Buc low for a 16-game season was 235 by the 1999 team. Tampa Bay allowed just 12.3 points per game in 2002 .
The Bucs and Bears were equally ineffective in the first quarter, combining for a total of just 51 yards. In fact, it was so even that each team had exactly 7:30 of possession time in the period.
Martin Gramatica’s 30-yard field goal in the second quarter was his 28th of the season, tying his own Buccaneer record, set in 2000. Of course, he shot past that mark with four more to own the record himself at 32.