By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 17, 2001
CHICAGO -- Chicago native Simeon Rice made it no secret last offseason that he wanted to play for the Bears.
After all, he grew up idolizing Walter Payton, Richard Dent and Mike Singletary.
But the Bears, he said, didn't think they needed him and Rice ended up in Tampa Bay.
Sunday he returned home to play his first game in Chicago since his days at the University of Illinois. It was not the homecoming he wanted.
Rice played well against the pass, recording two sacks, three tackles and several hurries. But the Bears had success running on his side of the line.
"It wasn't enough," Rice said. "This is a team game and it's all about winning. I wanted to come home to perform well and to win here. This was a team that said I didn't have enough to get it done when I wanted to come here prior to this season.
"So, I wanted to come here and have a good game and show this organization how valuable I truly am and how dedicated and how much I love this game."
With his two-sack effort, Rice broke a tie with defensive tackle Warren Sapp and leads the team with eight sacks. That distinction, he said, means nothing.
"The game is all about winning and to me that's how you rub it in, but we didn't get it done," Rice said.
"Hopefully we win out and I come back ... and correct the scenario. But (Sunday) they were a better team than us."
MR. INTERCEPTION: He lost his place in the starting lineup, but sixth-year cornerback Donnie Abraham has a place in the Bucs' record book.
With his second-quarter interception of Jim Miller, Abraham moved into first on the franchise's interceptions list.
His fifth INT of the season was the 30th of his career, moving him ahead of Cedric Brown.
"I definitely would have preferred it on a better day," Abraham said.
"I guess you can say it's bittersweet. It's good for me and it's been good for this team. It means I have helped my team and been able to get them the ball back to the offense 30 times; that's the one way I can look at it."
PROPS TO THE BEARS: Throughout the locker room, the Bucs were clearly disappointed by their poor showing but said the Bears had a lot to do with the loss.
"I have to take my hat off to the Bears," coach Tony Dungy said. "They played an outstanding game today and took it to us in every way. They played with a lot of energy, played well. I thought we played with energy but we didn't play well enough to keep up with them.
"To lose a game of this magnitude, a game that meant so much, by this score, is disappointing."
GROUNDED GRAMATICA?: The celebratory leap after a field-goal conversion that has become a trademark of Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica might be a thing of the past.
Saturday against the Giants, brother Bill kicked a first-quarter field goal, leaped, landed badly and hyperextended his right (kicking) knee. The Arizona Cardinal is scheduled to have an MRI today.
After making a 25-yarder in the second quarter Sunday, Martin kept his feet on the ground but said the coaching staff had not given him any warning about his leaping.
INJURY UPDATE: Sapp sprained his left shoulder early in the fourth quarter and did not return. He is scheduled to be evaluated today. ... Returner Frank Murphy was taken off the field on a cart after what appeared to be a right ankle injury. But he returned to the sideline under his own power and was walking around the locker room after the game. X-rays were negative. ... Cornerback Ronde Barber has a left hamstring strain and Brian Kelly has a left ankle sprain.
BEAR FACTS: David Terrell's 62-yard catch on third and 10 midway through the second quarter was his longest of the season. ... There were 4,588 no-shows.
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