TAMPA, Fla. – The Bears will visit Raymond James Stadium on Sunday afternoon to square off against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This will be a tall task for rookie quarterback Justin Fields and the Bears. The defending Super Bowl champion Bucs enter at 5-1 and among the best in the NFC. The Bears (3-3) are coming off another defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers last week.
Shaw Local Bears reporter Sean Hammond will be in Tampa, Florida, for the game on Sunday. Follow him on Twitter at @sean_hammond and on Instagram at @bears_reporter. Shaw Local analyst Hub Arkush will also be providing insight on Twitter at @Hub_Arkush.
Catch up on all the news of the week below, and stay here for live updates all game long.
Bucs win, 38-3; Bears fall to 3-4 on the season
Tom Brady called it a day midway through the second half and yielded the floor to backup Blaine Gabbert. The Bucs finished off a 38-3 victory over the Bears.
The Bears dropped to 3-4 on the season.
Fields picked off for 2nd time
Justin Fields was intercepted for the second time in the game midway through the third quarter. This one went off the fingertips of receiver Darnell Mooney and deflected into the waiting hands of Tampa Bay safety Jordan Whitehead.
It marked the takeaway for the Bucs’ defense.
Brady throws fourth touchdown pass
Tom Brady and Bruce Arians smelled a chance to put this game firmly away, going for it on fourth-and-inches at the Bears’ 11-yard line with under a minute remaining in the first half. Leonard Fournette plunged over the defensive line for a first down.
A few plays later, Brady hit Mike Evans for an 8-yard touchdown. The Bucs went into halftime with a 35-3 lead. The score was Evans’ third touchdown reception of the game and Brady’s fourth touchdown pass.
Bucs strike quickly again
Tampa Bay needed only five plays to drive 75 yards. Tom Brady found Mike Evans on back-to-back plays to cap the drive. One was a 46-yard completion down the left sideline. Jaylon Johnson tackled Evans just short of the goal line.
Brady went back to Evans mere seconds later, throwing a quick pass to the left side of the end zone. With Johnson in coverage again, Evans hauled in the pass for a score. Tampa Bay extended its lead to 28-3.
Cairo Santos field goal puts the Bears on the board
The Bears finally put some points on the board thanks to a 28-yard field goal from kicker Cairo Santos. One play earlier, the Bears tried to find tight end Jesper Horsted in the corner of the end zone one-on-one against a defensive back. Justin Fields’ pass was catchable, but Horsted couldn’t pull it in. It certainly wasn’t an easy catch, though.
Santos’ field goal made it 21-3 in favor of Tampa Bay.
Fields gives up his third turnover with another strip sack
The Buccaneers defense continued its relentless pressure on Bears quarterback Justin Fields. The Bucs pass rush yet again forced a Fields fumble, the third strip sack for the defense. This time it was Jason Pierre-Paul knocking the ball from Fields’ hands. Fields has fumbled the ball away twice and thrown one interception.
The Bears defense came up with a nice stop to force a Tampa Bay field goal, which Bucs kicker Ryan Succop missed from 43 yards.
Brady’s 2nd touchdown makes it 21-0, marks his 600th career touchdown pass
Tom Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 600 touchdown passes, finding receiver Mike Evans on a slant for a 9-yard touchdown.
The Bears gave Brady and the Bucs another short field after rookie Justin Fields fumbled as he was hit. It was Fields’ second fumble of the game. For the third time in the first four possessions, Tampa Bay started with the ball inside Bears’ territory.
The Bucs needed just five plays to go 35 yards for the score. Tampa Bay extended its lead to 21-0.
Fields interception leads to Brady touchdown pass
Bears quarterback Justin Fields was intercepted by Tampa Bay’s Dee Delaney midway through the first quarter. Fields was hit in the pocket on the play, but escaped the pressure. As he scrambled from the pocket, Fields geared up for a pass into traffic as he was hit yet again. Delaney had a nice return on the interception.
It set up a short field for the Bucs, who drove 40 yards in six plays and scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Chris Godwin. The Bucs took a 14-0 lead.
Bucs score quick touchdown, take 7-0 lead
The Bears won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. Their first possession went nowhere. Fields was strip sacked on the second play. Thankfully for the Bears, running back Khalil Herbert jumped on the fumble.
After a Bears punt, Tom Brady and the Bucs took advantage of a good punt return from Jaelon Darden and a defensive pass interference call on the first play from scrimmage. Leonard Fournette punched in a 2-yard touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead.
For the Bears, Lachavious Simmons earned the start at right tackle in place of Elijah Wilkinson.
Bears add 2 more players to the COVID-19 list; announce inactives
The Bears placed two more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday morning. Linebacker Caleb Johnson and offensive tackle Elijah Wilkinson will both be unavailable Sunday. The Bears have now placed five players on the COVID-19 list since Oct. 14.
With Germain Ifedi out due to an injury, Wilkinson has been the starting right tackle. Offensive tackle Lachavious Simmons could be in line for the start. Simmons is listed as the backup right tackle on the team’s depth chart. The Bears pulled up offensive lineman Arlington Hambright from the practice squad Sunday.
Inactive for the Bears on Sunday is quarterback Nick Foles, receiver Breshad Perriman, safety Tashaun Gipson and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
Jimmy Graham goes on the COVID-19 list, Damien Williams returns
The Bears placed tight end Jimmy Graham on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday, while activating running back Damien Williams off the COVID-19 list Saturday.
Graham was the third player to go on the COVID-19 list in eight days, following Williams and outside linebacker Robert Quinn. The team was also without wide receivers coach Mike Furrey for several days due to COVID-19 protocols.
Williams being activated means he is expected to play Sunday. Graham and Quinn will be unavailable.
Hicks is out due to groin injury
The Bears announced Saturday that defensive tackle Akiem Hicks will be out due to a groin injury. Hicks did not travel with the team to Florida.
In a corresponding move, the Bears flexed defensive tackle Margus Hunt and offensive lineman Dieter Eiselen from the practice squad to the active roster.
The team had previously ruled out safety Tashaun Gipson (hip) on Friday.
In other injury news, the Bears have a number of starters who were listed as questionable heading into the game. Return specialist Jakeem Grant (ankle), inside linebacker Caleb Johnson (knee), outside linebacker Khalil Mack (foot), receiver Allen Robinson (ankle), tight end J.P. Holtz (quad), defensive tackle Bilal Nichols (knee) and defensive back Duke Shelley (ankle) are all questionable.
What to watch for in Sunday’s game
It will be strength vs. strength in this game. The Bears have run the ball well in all of their wins, while the Bucs sport the best run defense in the NFL. The Bears lead the NFL in total sacks, while the Bucs protect Brady better than any team protects its quarterback.
As he does every week, Arkush provided his key matchups, X-factor, player to watch and more ahead of the game. Read his breakdown here.
Hammond wrote his top five things to watch in Sunday’s game. Find that here.
Was anybody on the Shaw Local staff brave enough to pick the Bears over the Bucs this week? Check out our staff picks here.
Trevis Gipson’s moment?
With Quinn unavailable, the Bears are going to need somebody else at outside linebacker to step up and support superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack. Quinn has been a solid Robin to Mack’s Batman this season (Mack has six sacks, Quinn has 5.5), but a stint on the COVID-19 list means he’s unavailable.
In his place could step second-year pro Trevis Gipson. Gipson has never started an NFL game, but he has played in five games this season, recording two sacks.
Gipson comes from an athletic family with former NFL and college basketball talent in his bloodline. He said the thing that motivates him is still the fact that he had only one scholarship offer coming out of high school. Tulsa chose him as much as he chose it, but he turned himself into a 2020 draft pick and now, potentially, an NFL starter.
What else did I miss this week?
Catch up on all the latest news coming from Halas Hall in Lake Forest this week. Be sure to follow coverage at shawlocal.com all week long. Follow @bears_insider for the latest news.