Tom Brady finished 25 for 41 for 253 yards and a touchdown and Rob Gronkowski chipped in with three catches (on six targets) for 52 yards, but it wasn’t enough for Tampa Bay, as the Bears upended the Buccaneers, 20-19, Thursday night in Chicago.
Late in the game, Brady was in the midst of what could have been a game-winning drive, but after a fourth-down pass attempt fell incomplete, it looked as if he lost track of the number of downs — he was spotted quizzically flashing four fingers and speaking with the officials about the situation.
Brady was asked after the game if he knew that it was a fourth down.
“I knew we needed a chunk and I was thinking about more yardage,” Brady told reporters. “It was bad execution. I had a great opportunity there. Just didn’t execute when we needed to.
“You’re up against the clock,” he added. “I knew we had to gain a chunk, so I should have been thinking more first down instead of chunk on that down.”
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians was asked if Brady knew Tampa Bay was facing a fourth down on the play.
“Yeah, he knew," Arians told reporters. "He knew.”
On the other side of the ball, Nick Foles — Brady’s Super Bowl LII nemesis — was 30 for 42 for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception for the Bears.
The Bucs were sharp out of the gate, taking a 13-0 lead with two minutes to go before halftime. Brady found Mike Evans on his first touchdown pass of the night, and Tampa Bay got a pair of field goals from Ryan Succop to push out to the double-digit lead. But two quick touchdowns from Chicago late in the half gave the Bears a 14-13 lead heading into halftime.
That set the stage for a back-and-forth second half, as the teams traded leads throughout the third and fourth quarter. It looked like Tampa was set up for success when Brady found old pal Gronkowski with a 16-yard pass, a connection that set the stage for a Succop field goal from 25 yards to give the Bucs a 19-17 lead with 4:49 to go.
But a final drive from Foles resulted in a 38-yard field goal from Chicago’s Cairo Santos with 1:13 remaining to finish the scoring -- a last-minute drive by Brady fell short after back-to-back incompletions.
Take a look at how things played out:
11:32 p.m.: That’s going to do it. The fourth-down pass play is knocked away, and the Bears will take over. Did Brady lose count of how many downs there were? It looked like it -- going to be interesting to see if he’ll talk about that afterward.
11:26 p.m.: A 38-yard field goal from Cairo Santos makes it 20-19 with 1:13 to go in regulation. Let’s see what Brady can do here.
rob gronkowski runs like a b-17 that's limping home from a bombing run over germany with 30 holes from flak, 2 engines out and half the tail rudder gone— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) October 9, 2020
11:04 p.m.: Boy, that looked familiar, didn’t it? A frustrated Brady goes to the guy he knows the best -- Gronkowski -- for a 16-yard reception that gets the Bucs into field goal range. Succop delivers, and it’s 19-17 with 4:49 to go. Seeing a different Brady than the one from the first four games; when he gets knocked around a bit and/or when his team makes sloppy mistakes, he starts to really lay into guys. We didn’t see that from him over the course of the first four games of the season. We’re seeing a lot of it (relatively) here in the second half. Anyway, it’s 19-17, Tampa Bay, with 4:49 remaining in regulation. Brady is 23-for-34 for 237 yards with one touchdown.
10:51 p.m.: A 47-yard field goal from Cairo Santos gives the Bears a 17-16 lead with 10:34 to go.
10:35 p.m.: The flags have started to really fly. On the most recent Tampa Bay drive — which started optimistically enough — a 16-yard pass for Gronkowski (on a ball meant for Mike Evans — think Manny Ramirez serving as a cutoff guy for Johnny Damon) was negated because of an OPI call. Khalil Mack was hit with a personal foul call on a play that erased a sack of Brady. There was another personal foul call on Tampa offensive lineman Ryan Jensen, and immediately after that, there was a hold on the Bucs that paved the way for a Tampa punt. No great surprise — the Bucs were the third-most penalized team in the league coming into tonight, while the Bears were fifth-most. But the series ended with Brady raging at his teammates on the sidelines.
10:19 p.m.: Succop delivers a 39-yard field goal with 9:04 to go in the third to give the Bucs the lead again. Not a great drive for Brady and the Tampa Bay offense there -- at first glance, it looks like the Bears have figured a few things out -- but good enough to put three points on the board. He’s 16-for-25 for 150 yards, with one touchdown and a sack. It’s 16-14, Tampa Bay.
10:10 p.m.: Side note -- if I’m Matt Nagy, I try and get the ball to Cordarrelle Patterson at least once every possession. Just a dynamic offensive option. Loved the guy in his brief stint in New England -- he can do an awful lot for a team.
9:56 p.m.: Nick Foles and the Bears are up 14-13 on Brady and the Bucs at the half in Chicago. Here are a few quick takeaways:
•Brady: 14-for-23, 130 yards, 1 TD
•Gronkowski: 1 catch on 5 targets for 13 yards
•Nick Foles: 15-for-21, 151 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
•For the most part, Brady’s throws were on target, particularly in the early going. With the exception of one offering for Tanner Hudson in the end zone that would have resulted in a touchdown that was overthrown, he’s been pretty sharp. (He also overthrew Mike Evans on a pass toward the end zone midway through the second quarter.) He’s also been helped by some bad penalties from the Chicago defense, but overall, it was a (mostly) clean half for the quarterback.
•The other thing was that helped Tampa get an early lead? Playing excellent complementary football — other than the last two minutes of the first half, the Bears were unable to get any sort of offensive rhythm. Tampa Bay took advantage to build a 13-0 lead with two minutes to go until the half. The Bears sharpened up and had a pair of quick touchdowns inside two minutes, but Brady and Tampa did well to take advantage of opportunities in the early going.
•Gronkowski … well, I’m not sure what to think. I have no idea if it’s because he was out all last year or if it’s just age and his body starting to wear down, but he just doesn’t have the same oomph. There was one nice 13-yard pickup on Tampa Bay’s opening drive that helped lead to a field goal. But other than that, he was pretty much of a non-factor. The best example of him looking different? Brady targeted him on a second-quarter drive, and delivered a low pass in his direction, one he would have been to nimbly pluck it off the turn in the past. This time, he couldn’t corral it. Sic transit gloria.
•Chicago will get the ball to start the second half.
9:49 p.m.: Nick Foles really does redefine the term streak quarterback. The Bucs were up 13-0 at the two-minute warning. Now, it’s 14-13, Chicago. Foles just put together a pair of quick scoring drives -- capitalizing in part on a takeaway from Kyle Fuller on the second one -- and it’s 14-13 with less than a minute to go in the first half. It’s 14-13, Chicago with 36 seconds until halftime.
9:40 p.m.: The Bears have responded to make it 13-7. Foles has his best and most consistent drive of the night for Chicago. He’s 12-for-17 for 124 yards and an interception.
9:25 p.m.: A 35-yarder from Ryan Succop makes it 13-0 with 7:03 left in the half. The drive started optimistically enough, but that Chicago defense was able to stiffen up as the action got closer to its' own end zone. (Helped by a Brady overthrow of Mike Evans that would have likely resulted in a touchdown.) Overall, Brady is 12-for-18 for 121 yards and a touchdown.
9:14 p.m.: Nice combo. Is Evans officially Brady’s guy?
With a TD late in the 1st quarter, Mike Evans becomes the first player in Buccaneers franchise history to catch a TD pass in each of team’s first 5 games of the season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 9, 2020
After that TD, Tom Brady is now 5-of-5 for 12 yards and 5 TD targeting Mike Evans in the red zone this season pic.twitter.com/ppTsuzeyeC
9:01 p.m.: The Bears had the No. 1 red-zone defense in the league coming into the game, but Brady and the Bucs were able tp punch it in on their third drive of the night from in close. A few good throws from Brady -- I remember a few years back when people were questioning Brady’s arm strength -- but he really showed it off on the touchdown pass to Mike Evans, zipping a laser to the receiver on a nice slant pattern to make it 10-0 with 56 seconds to go in the first quarter. Just for some context here, we mentioned the red-zone D, but really, the Bears have an impressive all-around group on that side of the ball -- they are top 10 in total yards allowed -- which makes Brady’s fast start all the more impressive. Right now, he’s 7-for-11 for 89 yards and a TD.
8:35 p.m.: Brady wrapped up an 11-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal from Ryan Succop to make it 3-0 Tampa with 9:48 left in the first quarter. Among the highlights in the early going included a 13-yard connection with Rob Gronkowski. Overall, Brady is 3-for-6 for 41 yards after the first drive. Good series against a talented Chicago defense, albeit with a missed connection with Tanner Hudson that could have resulted in a touchdown.
8:15 p.m.: Brady talked with Erin Andrews as part of the pregame show, and touched on a pair of New England-related topics.
Brady on the cold weather: “I think that’s one thing I definitely won’t ever miss. I don’t know if I’m ever going to see the cold weather outside of ski season. Now that I’m down here in the warm weather, you forget how nice it is. And growing up in California … I think I’m a Floridian for as long as I can envision now.”
On his decision to leave New England: “I had a great career there — a great 20 years. It was just time. I left everything I could win the field there for 20 years. I gave my heart, my soul … everything. My football journey took me someplace else — like a lot of other football players have over the course of their careers.”
Taking the Bucs to win tonight but the Bears to cover the 4.5. Let’s go 27-24, Bucs— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) October 8, 2020
7:55 p.m.: Personal note: It was super cool to get the chance to visit Soldier Field in 2018 for Bears-Patriots. I grew up as a Bears’ fan, and to get a chance to see it from a journalists perspective was pretty special. I know it wasn’t the same as when it had the old-school facade -- the new version looked like they dropped a protective ring around the old place. But you could still see the columns, and when you went underneath into the tunnels, you got that old-school vibe. Not a lot of those sorts of places left; if you’re a football fan, it’s a bucket-list destination, provided you have the resources.
7:28 p.m.: Because it’s Tom Brady against the Bears, I think I’m legally obligated to post this. One of my favorite underrated Brady memories of his time in New England.
7:16 p.m.: Here’s a look at the inactives for each team. The Bucs had a handful of question marks when it came to the injury report, but other than Chris Godwin sitting out, it looks like Brady has a lot of familiar faces in the lineup this evening.
7:10 p.m.: Welcome to Thursday Night Football, and a Buccaneers-Bears clash that’ll see Tom Brady and Tampa Bay aiming for a 4-1 start against Nick Foles and Chicago. For Brady and Foles, it’ll be a rematch of Super Bowl LII, albeit with much lower stakes and different uniforms.
We’ll have updates throughout the night on this one, so keep it here for all the latest.
Christopher Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.