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THE NFL / 1996

Cox Doesn't Let Thumb, Buccaneers Stop Bears

NFC: Linebacker plays with broken thumb and inspires Chicago to 13-10 victory over Tampa Bay.

November 04, 1996|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — When doctors told Bryan Cox he needed X-rays, he walked away growling. When the trainer tried to stop Cox from going back on the field, Cox pushed him aside.

It might have been Cox's last game for a month, and there was no way he was going to leave it.

Cox's courageous and outstanding play despite a broken thumb that will be surgically repaired today sparked the Bears (4-5) to a 13-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He got plenty of help Sunday from fellow linebackers Vinson Smith and Joe Cain, who turned in the game's most important play.

"He's the heart and soul of the defense," safety Marty Carter said of Cox. "He came out with a broken thumb and his leadership and his awareness of the game was big."

Cox was advised to have his left thumb operated on last week but decided to wait. With about six minutes to go Sunday, he was told to have his sore right hand examined. But after a brief sideline shoving match with trainer Fred Caito, Cox went back in.

"I wanted to keep playing, knowing that this could be my last game for a couple of weeks," Cox said. "I've dealt with pain and I didn't want my other hand to stop me from competing."

Cox finished with eight tackles, including several on third-and-short plays. He got a boost from linebacker mates Cain and Smith, who were involved in a strange third-quarter play that set up the game's final points.

Tampa Bay (1-8) was ahead, 10-6, when Errict Rhett was hit by Cain and fumbled at Chicago's 47-yard line.

Players for both teams stood around momentarily, but no whistles blew to officially stop the play. Smith then scooped up the football and rambled to the Tampa Bay 19.

Donnie Abraham was called for interfering with Curtis Conway in the end zone on the next play, and Raymont Harris followed with a one-yard touchdown run.

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