The Bucs fell 20-19 at the Chicago Bears on Thursday night when Brady sailed a third-down pass attempt over the fingertips of Rob Gronkowski, and on fourth down, and failed to connect with a diving Cameron Brate on a pass broken up by DeAndre Houston-Carson.
The Bucs were without wide receivers Chris Godwin and Justin Watson, running backs LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette and tight end O.J. Howard, who went to injured reserve this week. Wide receivers Scotty Miller and Mike Evans were also both limited by injuries.
Brady was forced to rely on rookie Tyler Johnson and Jaydon Mickens and tight ends Brate and Tanner Hudson, and while they moved the ball, they to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, unable to replicate their 80% red zone touchdown success from previous games. Brady went 25 of 41 for 253 passing yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions, but the Bucs were 1 for 3 on red zone scoring, with Ryan Succop making four field goals.
Troubling trend: Heading into Thursday night’s game, the Bucs were the third-most penalized team in the league. That lack of discipline continued. They were penalized 11 times for 109 yards. In the third quarter, the Bucs had five penalties (one declined, one offsetting) for 35 yards on one drive alone, resulting in a second-and-34 and third-and-27 and a tongue lashing from Brady. With the Bucs going from a more explosive vertical attack to incrementally moving the ball on longer drives, discipline has to be addressed.
Pivotal play: With 1:37 to go in the first half, running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn took a hard hit to the stomach area by Kyle Fuller, resulting in a lost fumble that set up a leaping 12-yard touchdown from Jimmy Graham working against Jamel Dean to make it 14-13 Bears, negating nearly all the Bucs’ first-half momentum. From there, Bears quarterback Nick Foles got on a roll. In total, he completed 30-of-42 passes for 243 yards, a touchdown and an interception.