TAMPA, Fla. — "A New Day in Tampa Bay" looked a lot like the old.
The Chicago Bears ruined the Buccaneers' home opener under new management Sunday, intercepting two passes and blocking a punt within a two-minute span of the third quarter to pull away to a 25-6 victory.
Jeremy Lincoln returned one of the interceptions 32 yards to set up Robert Green's seven-yard touchdown run. Anthony Marshall blocked Reggie Roby's punt four plays later, picked up the ball and ran 11 yards for a touchdown that broke open the game three minutes into the second half.
It was the second block in as many weeks for Marshall, who also had one during a 27-24 loss to Green Bay last Monday night. Chicago (2-1) trailed by three touchdowns before rallying against the Packers, but Marshall's big play Sunday ensured the Bears wouldn't have to come from behind again.
"We started fast today and that was critical," said defensive lineman Alonzo Spellman. "Last week we spotted a team 21 points early. You saw today what happens when you start quick."
Chicago, which led, 9-3, at halftime, has outscored opponents, 50-6, in the third and fourth quarters of its three games. The Bears had four interceptions and sacked Trent Dilfer twice before Tampa Bay Coach Sam Wyche benched the second-year pro with 10 minutes remaining.
Kevin Butler kicked first-half field goals of 24, 37 and 22 yards. The Bears, capitalizing on the sixth of Tampa Bay's seven turnovers, put the finishing touches on the victory with Butler's fourth field goal with 3:13 to go.
It was a disappointing day for the Bucs (1-2), who honored Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon at halftime and are promoting this season--the team's first under owner Malcolm Glazer--as "A New Day in Tampa Bay."
A crowd of 71,507--the first September sellout at Tampa Stadium in 13 years--watched Dilfer complete 11 of 27 passes for 149 yards. He was yanked after throwing his fourth interception, but backup Casey Weldon failed to create a quarterback controversy.
The Bears sacked Weldon twice, forcing fumbles both times, and limited Tampa Bay's Errict Rhett to 66 yards rushing in 19 carries.