TAMPA — As if containing All-Pro Julio Jones and the Falcons offense isn’t challenging enough, the Bucs will try to do so Monday night without perhaps their top defensive players, tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.
On Saturday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter ruled both players out. McCoy (biceps) and David (hamstring) had not practiced all week. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring) will also miss a fifth straight game. He was held out Saturday after practicing the previous two days.
The Falcons beat the Bucs 34-20 three weeks ago in Atlanta, with Jones going off for 253 receiving yards — most ever by a Bucs opponent — and two touchdowns. Jones has one touchdown catch in his other 12 games combined this season.
Safety T.J. Ward has been fully cleared from the concussion that sidelined him the past two games and will have a chance Monday to go up against his brother Terron, a Falcons running back.
Atlanta will be without two key parts of their running game: running back Tevin Coleman (concussion) and guard Andy Levitre (triceps). The Falcons will have former Florida State standout running back Devonta Freeman, who missed the first game against the Bucs with a concussion.e_SClBLions stay in playoff hunt
DETROIT — Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes and avoided mistakes, allowing the Lions to stay in the NFC playoff picture with a 20-10 victory over the Bears.
Detroit (8-6) has won two straight and needs to close the regular season with two more wins to keep its postseason hopes alive. "We’ve got to win to stay in," said tight end Eric Ebron, who caught Stafford’s second TD pass.
The Bears (4-10) have lost six of seven, sealing a third season with double-digit losses in three years under embattled coach John Fox.
Stafford threw a 3-yard TD pass to TJ Jones with 6:10 left in the first half after Fox chose to punt on fourth and 1 from the Chicago 45. Stafford threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Ebron for a 20-3 lead early in the third after cornerback Darius Slay’s first of two interceptions in the game. Stafford was 25-of-33 for 237 yards and didn’t turn the ball over for the first time since Week 11.
Chicago rookie Mitchell Trubisky had season highs in completions (31), attempts (46), yards passing (314) and interceptions (three) including one to safety Quandre Diggs in the end zone early in the fourth. Trubisky threw a 9-yard TD pass to Benny Cunningham to make it 20-10 with 2:32 left.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.