TAMPA, Fla. — Doug Flutie made his NFL debut against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, but the spotlight belonged to old-timer Walter Payton, who gained 208 all-purpose yards to lead the Chicago Bears to a 23-3 victory.
The NFL's all-time leading rushing leader ran for 139 yards in 20 carries and caught 3 passes for 69 yards, with 57 of them coming on a screen pass that set up Chicago's first touchdown.
All this despite playing with a dislocated toe.
"He's something else," Bear Coach Mike Ditka said after Payton posted the 77th 100-yard game of his 12-year career.
"I was in pain all day," said Payton, who made his 162nd consecutive start only six days after dislocating the big toe on his right foot against the Rams.
Mike Tomczak, starting in place of the injured Jim McMahon, scored on a 1-yard sneak to cap a 92-yard drive following the opening kickoff. Later in the first quarter, Tomczak threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Willie Gault.
Tomczak was relieved by Flutie late in the fourth quarter after completing 11 of 24 passes for 265 yards.
Flutie came on with 4:29 left after Tomczak completed his last pass, good for 50 yards to Gault. It gave the Bears a first down at the Tampa Bay 17.
The drive stalled at the five, where Flutie's only pass attempt fell incomplete on third down, and Chicago settled for a 22-yard field goal by Kevin Butler.
Butler earlier kicked field goals of 25 and 23 yards as the defending Super Bowl champions, who had lost two of their previous three games with McMahon sidelined with a shoulder problem, improved to 8-2.
Tampa Bay fell to 2-8 before a crowd of 70,097, the Bucs' first sellout at home since facing the Bears in the final game of 1982 season. There were 4,217 no-shows.
The Chicago defense sacked Tampa Bay quarterback Steve Young 5 times for 32 yards in losses. Young completed 22 of 43 passes for 220 yards and was intercepted once.
"We were simply out-manned and beaten, that's the bottom line," said Tampa Bay Coach Leeman Bennett, whose team lost four starters to injuries during the game. "They were just a better football team."