Buccaneers vs. Bears score: Justin Fields' five turnovers doom Chicago as Tampa Bay rolls to 6-1
The Bucs took command early and never looked back
Justin Fields might be the Bears' future at quarterback, but he wasn't doing anything to help Chicago on Sunday, with the reigning champion Buccaneers rolling all over Windy City to improve to 6-1. Granted, Fields hasn't had much help since taking over under center, and that continued in Week 7, but five turnovers from the rookie signal-caller doomed the Bears in what was always going to be a tough matchup at Raymond James Stadium. Tom Brady wasn't particularly sharp early on, but he never needed to be, riding three interceptions from Todd Bowles' defense to a 38-3 victory that confirms the Bucs as one of the NFC front-runners.
Here are some takeaways from Sunday's big Bucs win:
Why the Buccaneers won
Bowles' defense was superior in every way to Matt Nagy's offense. It's honestly as simple as that, because Brady didn't even need a good day to claim a huge win here. TB12 ended up throwing four touchdowns, and he showed off his ageless arm as the afternoon wore on, hitting Chris Godwin and Mike Evans for big gains on a day without Antonio Brown. But even his aerial dominance came when the game was already out of hand. The real game ball belongs to the "D," where Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Co. consistently got in Fields' face, pressuring the unsupported rookie into crucial mistakes early and often. Tampa Bay managed to play both aggressively and loose thanks to a massive first-quarter lead, and the duo of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones (144 combined yards) helped keep the ball in their hands despite some uncharacteristic Brady hiccups before the break.
Why the Bears lost
To pin this squarely on Fields would be to overlook all the issues contributing to the rookie QB's performance; a shoddy O-line and anonymous receiving corps (Allen Robinson, are you there?) rarely helped. But you can't turn the ball over multiple times in the NFL and expect to win, and Fields coughed it up a whopping five times -- twice on fumbles and thrice through the air, and that's not even counting a separate fumble he almost lost early in the matchup. The QB wasn't terribly inaccurate on some key shots but too often took chances when the Bears simply needed possession. The defense, meanwhile, actually played tight coverage against Brady in the first half but had no answers for Fournette, then cratered late as Brady started dicing them up. The only obvious positive takeaway here: Khalil Herbert, who looked explosive almost every time he touched the ball in the ground game.
Trailing 14-0 and already losing the turnover battle, the Bears opted to stick to the ground to open their fourth offensive drive of the day. And it worked well enough, with Herbert pushing them close to midfield. Then came third-and-5, with just over two minutes left in the first quarter, and Fields lost the ball on a Barrett sack. Not only did the Bucs take over, killing Chicago's chance at points, but they proceeded to march 35 yards while burning clock, capping the drive with a TD to go up 21-0 after just one quarter.
Play of the game
Give it to Brady, who showed a little pocket mobility before firing the ball to Evans for the wideout's third score of the day:
The Buccaneers (6-1) will hit the road in Week 8 with a Halloween matchup with the Saints, who will be coming off a short week after playing the Seahawks on "Monday Night Football." The Bears (3-4), meanwhile, will return home to Chicago where they'll play host to the 49ers, who take on the Colts on "Sunday Night Football."
W 😃— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) October 24, 2021
Bears Postgame Live starts now.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 24, 2021
Ryan Succop's 22-yard field goal increases Bucs lead to 38-3. Still 12:51 remaining on clock.— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) October 24, 2021
WE CAN'T TYPE FAST ENOUGH— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) October 24, 2021
Bears defense stops Buccaneers twice from 1-yard line on third-and-goal and fourth-and-goal, turning ball over on downs. Defense clearly still playing hard.— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) October 24, 2021
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