By Leo Haggerty


Visiting Tampa Bay fell to Chicago on Thursday night 20-19 at Soldier Field on a 38 yard field goal by former Buccaneer K Cairo Santos with 1:13 left in the contest. The Bears moved to 4-1 on the season and the Bucs fell to 3-2.

In what was a return match between Super Bowl LII quarterbacks and Nick Foles again got the best of Tom Brady.  The Bears QB was 30-of-42 for 243 yards and one TD along with a single INT.  The Bucs signal caller was 25-of-41 for 253 yards and a score.

As you can see, it was a pretty even battle between the two quarterbacks.  The big difference, as you will see below, is that the Pewter Pirates had to settle for field goals on four occasions and that would be the Buccaneers ultimate downfall.

The Bucs got out of the gate fast and sprinted to a 10-0 opening quarter lead.  K Ryan Succop converted a 39 yard boot to put Tampa Bay up 3-0 at 9:48.  The lead was extended when Brady found WR Mike Evans with a 2 yard strike and Succop was true with the PAT with 56 seconds left in the opening 15 minutes.

The Pewter Pirates extended the margin at 7:03 of the second quarter.  Succop booted another 3-pointer, this time from 35 yards out, to put the Buccaneers up 13-0.

The Bears got on the scoreboard with 1:48 left before halftime.  RB David Montgomery scampered in from 3 yards out and Santos hit the extra point to cut the Bucs margin to 13-7.

Then, the Monsters of the Midway took advantage of the only Tampa Bay turnover of the evening.  RB Ke’Shaun Vaughn, after catching a short pass over the middle from Brady, was immediately separate from the football.  The play was originally called an incomplete pass but, after further review, it was ruled a fumble that was recovered by the Bears.

This set Chicago up with a short field opportunity and the Bears converted with 36 ticks left in the second period.  Foles found TE Jimmy Graham with a 12 yard strike and Santos was good with the PAT.  That put the Windy City Crew up 14-13 and the score stayed that way when both teams went to the locker room for halftime.

The second half was a battle of field goals.  Both defenses stiffened and kept the opposition out of the end zone.

Tampa Bay retook the lead with 9:04 left in the third period.  Succop hit from 46 yards out to give the Pewter Pirates a 16-14 advantage.

Chicago answered at 10:34 of the final period.  Santos split the uprights from 47 yards away to put the Bears back on top at 17-16.

On their next possession, the Buccaneers then drove deep into Chicago territory.  With a 1st-and-10 at the Bears 16 yard line, Brady was sack by LB Khalil Mack for a loss of seven yards.  After an incompletion, Brady found TE Rob Gronkowski but the reception came up a good yard short of the sticks.  That forced the Bucs to settle for Succop’s fourth field goal of the evening, this time from 25 yards out giving the Pewter Pirates a short-lived 19-17 lead.

After Santos hit his game winner, the Buccaneers had a chance to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat with a score of their own but were unable to do so.  The Bucs couldn’t get into Bears territory and turned the pigskin over on downs allowed Chicago to run out the clock and secure the victory.

Tampa Bay now awaits the 5-0 Green Bay Packers.  The “Battle of the Bays” will kickoff at 4:25 pm Sunday weather permitting.

Be sure to check out Senior Writer Rob Kriete’s Buc Up column on Saturday for up-to-the-minute Buccaneers coverage.  See you around the TV Sunday.