TAMPA, Fla. – There’s a good reason Lovie Smith’s Chicago Bears are drawing comparisons to the old Monsters of the Midway. The NFC North leaders play an awfully stingy brand of defense, too.

Alex Brown sacked Chris Simms to force a fumble that set up Chicago’s only touchdown and the Bears kept Tampa Bay out of the end zone until the fourth quarter in a 13-10 victory over the Buccaneers.

The Bears (8-3) still needed some help to ensure their first seven-game winning streak since 1986, prevailing after Matt Bryant missed a potential game-tying 29-yard field goal attempt for the Bucs (7-4) with 2:47 to go.

Rookie Kyle Orton threw for 134 yards and a TD and Robbie Gould kicked field goals of 25 and 36 yards for the Bears, who lost three of their first four games before putting together their longest winning streak since the season after Chicago won its only Super Bowl title.

A week after sacking Jake Delhomme eight times and forcing two turnovers in a 13-3 victory over Carolina, the Bears sacked Simms four times and used the Tampa Bay quarterback’s fumble at his own 1 to take an early lead on Orton’s 1-yard TD pass to John Gilmore.

Brown finished with two sacks and his third forced fumble in two weeks. The agile defensive end also batted down three passes in the backfield and broke up a pass downfield intended for tight end Anthony Becht.

Adewale Ogunleye also had two sacks, the last coming on the final play of the game, ending any hope for a miracle finish.

With both teams ranked among the top three in fewest yards allowed, it figured to be a low scoring game that very well could be decided by turnovers and field position.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris fell on Simms’ fumble at the Bucs 1 on Tampa Bay’s third offensive play of the day, setting up Orton’s TD pass on the next play.

The Bears took advantage of good field position again, moving 40 yards in 10 plays just before the half to go up 10-3 on Gould’s 25-yard field goal. Gould added a 36-yarder to make it 13-3 late in the third quarter.

The Bucs, who rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Washington and Atlanta the previous two weeks, remained patient and worked themselves back into the game with a 50-yard scoring drive that Mike Alstott finished with a 2-yard TD run – the first touchdown against Chicago in 13 quarters.

Following a Chicago punt, Simms went back to work and used completions of 30 and 16 yards to Joey Galloway to fuel a march from the Tampa Bay 31 to the Chicago 11. Bryant had only missed twice in 17 attempts before pushing his chip-shot field goal attempt wide right.

Simms finished 19-of-30 for 202 yards. Galloway had seven catches for 138 yards, and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams rushed for 84 yards on 20 carries.

Orton was 14-of-28 and was intercepted once. The Bucs sacked the rookie twice.

AP-ES-11-27-05 1624EST


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