Tom Brady, seemingly unaware it was fourth down, throws incomplete and Bears hold on to beat Buccaneers

Once again, Nick Foles’ team got the best of Tom Brady’s team.

Unlike Super Bowl LII, neither quarterback covered himself in glory. This one ended in the weirdest way possible, with Brady remaining on the field thinking he had one more play to work with, after he lost track of what down it was.

After a horrible Buccaneers three-and-out in which only 16 seconds came off the clock on those three plays, the Bears got the ball at their own 48-yard line with a little more than two minutes left. Foles, who had some awful throws Thursday night, made a couple clutch passes to get the Bears in position to win 20-19 with a 38-yard field goal with a little more than a minute to go.

Brady had a final chance. After getting a first down, the drive bogged down when Brady missed Rob Gronkowski over the middle on third down and then his pass on fourth down was broken up. After Brady threw incomplete on fourth down, he turned to the officials signaling that he thought he had a fourth down to work with. He did not. He went to the officials for an explanation. The fact that the Bucs had just turned the ball over on downs didn’t change.

His explanation didn’t shed much light on the situation.

It was a weird night and ultimately, the Bears improved to 4-1 and the Buccaneers are 3-2, with Brady surely to catch plenty of old-man jokes about forgetting what down it was.

A back-and-forth struggle

The Buccaneers, on a three-game winning streak, came out like they were going to keep rolling. They were up 13-0 midway through the second quarter. The Bears offense was still in its funk.

Then Chicago got a big play, and a favorable ruling to go with it. After scoring a touchdown to cut the Bucs’ lead to 13-7, Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller laid a hard hit on Tampa Bay running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Fuller was flagged for an illegal hit, but that was picked up after some discussion. Then the play was reviewed and it was ruled that Vaughn made a catch and fumbled. The Bears cashed in, scoring a touchdown to take a 14-13 lead into halftime.

The defenses tightened up after that. The Buccaneers got a field goal to take the lead back. The Bears got a field goal to take the lead early in the fourth quarter. With 4:49 left, Ryan Succop hit another field goal at the end of a long drive and the Bucs led again, 19-17.

Both offenses could barely find room to move the ball.

Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) is tackled in the end zone by Tampa Bay Buccaneers nose tackle Vita Vea (50) after a touchdown. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Bucs can’t move it on final two drives

When the Bears got the ball back, the Buccaneers seemed to get a stop. A very questionable roughing the-passer penalty on Shaq Barrett kept the drive alive. Then the Bucs just held Chicago down for three more downs and forced a punt.

Tampa Bay’s offense had a disappointing drive after that. They went three-and-out, taking just 16 seconds on those three plays. The Bears had the ball just behind midfield with 2:21 left. At that point, Brady and the offense hadn’t done much to win the game.

Foles hit Anthony Miller to pick up a key third-down conversion. Foles, who was way off on some throws Thursday night, floated a nice pass to Montgomery for 17 yards to get the Bears into field-goal range. Cairo Santos hit a 38-yarder with 1:13 to go to give the Bears the lead.

Then came Brady’s final drive. After a first down, Brady threw incomplete to Mike Evans, then on second down he hit Vaughn over the middle short of the first down. Third down was incomplete to Gronkowski, fourth down incomplete, too, and the game was practically over even though Brady wasn’t aware of it. It’s hard to know how Brady even missed that he had already exhausted fourth down, since the first three downs were pretty normal.

Brady is one of the smartest and most experienced quarterbacks ever. But it’s 2020 and everyone is losing track of time, or downs.

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