Jim McMahon passed for three touchdowns and Walter Payton ran for two today to lead the Chicago Bears to a 44-9 rout of the penalty-plagued Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The victory gives the Bears a 5-3 record and a two-game lead over the Bucs (3-5) in the NFC Central.
The Bears scored the first three times they got the ball and penalties were crucial in each.
Payton, whose 72 yards on 20 carries left him one game short of becoming the third NFL runner to top 100 yards in seven straight games, scored the first two touchdowns on runs of eight and three yards.
Three Tampa Bay penalties came on the first drive, including one against linebacker Keith Browner for hitting McMahon out of bounds that gave Chicago a first down at Tampa Bay's eight. Payton scored on the next play.
The next Chicago drive was aided by a 12-yard pass interference call against cornerback Jeremiah Castille. That put the ball on the one and two plays later Payton took it in.
After Tampa's Obed Ariri made a 46-yard field goal in the second quarter, a roughing the passer penalty on Jeff Davis contributed 15 yards to a Bears drive that culminated in a 32-yard flea-flicker touchdown.
Payton took the handoff, started right, turned and pitched to McMahon, who threw to Dennis McKinnon at the goal line. Chi