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(Sunday, October 23rd)
Final Score: Chicago 24, Tampa Bay 18
London, England (Sports Network) - Matt Forte ran for 145 yards and a touchdown, as the Chicago Bears withstood a late charge from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to earn a 24-18 victory at Wembley Stadium.
Jay Cutler completed 17-of-32 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions, while Marion Barber ran for a score for the Bears (4-3).
Tampa Bay, already without starting running back LeGarrette Blount, lost backup Earnest Graham in the first quarter. Kregg Lumpkin spelled Graham, registering just 15 yards on eight carries.
Josh Freeman threw for 264 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Buccaneers (4-3), but was intercepted four times, the last of which -- by D.J. Moore -- came with under a minute remaining, sealing the final result.
"Of course, whenever you take the ball away four times you've got a good chance of winning the game," said Bears coach Lovie Smith.
Devoid of its top-two running backs, Tampa Bay struggled offensively for the majority of the game.
Trailing 21-5 in the fourth quarter, the team finally came to life.
Freeman, who made his NFL debut in Wembley in 2009, drove the Bucs deep into Chicago territory, but his third pick of the game -- to Brian Urlacher -- stalled the drive with 13:51 remaining.
"Urlacher just made a great play," said Freeman. "I can't think of any other linebacker in the league that makes that play."
Cutler, though, was intercepted by Corey Lynch two plays later and Freeman capitalized with a two-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow, resulting in a 21-11 game following a failed two-point conversion.
After a Chicago three-and-out, Freeman found Dezmon Briscoe for a 24-yard touchdown strike with 7:17 remaining.
Nursing a slim 21-18 lead, the Bears responded with a 12-play, 64-yard drive and Robbie Gould drove home a 25-yard field goal to cap the scoring with 1:55 remaining.
Freeman moved the Bucs to the Chicago 39 before Moore's pick effectively ended the game.
"It seems like every time we play Tampa it's the same type of game," said Smith. "It comes down right to the end."
Forte gave the Bears an early 7-0 lead, reeling off a 32-yard touchdown run on the team's second possession of the game.
On Chicago's next drive, Cutler's screen pass went through the hands of Barber and Tanard Jackson came up with the pick, returning it 43 yards to the Bears 12.
Freeman gave to ball right back, however, as he was intercepted by Chris Conte on the one-yard-line.
The bizarre string of plays continued, as Forte was bottled up in the end zone by Ronde Barber, resulting in a safety and a 7-2 score after one quarter.
Early in the second, Cutler hit Roy Williams for a 25-yard touchdown to give Chicago a 14-2 lead.
Tampa Bay meanwhile, struggled to move the ball without Graham, punting on its initial two possessions of the quarter before finally executing a 10-play, 77- yard drive. Connor Barth's 33-yard field goal capped the march as time expired, making it a 14-5 game at the half.
Early in the third, Barber atoned for his hand in the first-half turnover with a 12-yard touchdown run, giving Chicago a 21-5 advantage.
Freeman continued to struggle, throwing a pick to Lance Briggs, but Chicago was forced to punt, and Gould missed a 41-yard field goal attempt late in the quarter.
"We just didn't play well early," said Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris. "When we did get it going it just wasn't enough. It was too late."
The Bucs made their second appearance in Wembley Stadium in the last three seasons. They fell, 35-7, to the Patriots in 2009, when Freeman made his NFL debut...The Bears' only game in England came in a 1986 preseason matchup with the Cowboys...Blount injured his knee during an October 9 game against the 49ers and sat out last Sunday's contest against the Saints.
10/23 18:31:42 ET
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