The Bears followed an impressive win over the Vikings with an embarrassing 36-10 loss to the Buccaneers Sunday in Tampa. Here are three things that stood out about the game:
(1) The Bears gave themselves virtually no chance to win by committing five turnovers.
The Chicago offense was careless with the football against the Buccaneers, turning it over four times on five possessions during one stretch in the first half and five times total. The Bears entered Sunday's contest having committed just nine turnovers in their first eight games this season.
Jay Cutler was responsible for four turnovers in the game, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles.
Jay Cutler, whose return after missing five games with a thumb injury provided a major boost in the win over Minnesota, was responsible for four turnovers in the game, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles. One of his picks was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by former Bears safety Chris Conte and one of the quarterback's fumbles rolled out of the end zone for a safety.
Cutler's first interception came midway through the first quarter. On third-and-two from the Tampa Bay 37, the Bears lined up with an empty backfield. Given the formation coupled with the down-and-distance, Brent Grimes likely knew that Cutler would have to get rid of the ball quickly and the Buccaneers cornerback jumped a slant pass intended for Alshon Jeffery.
On Conte's interception, Cutler was pressured up the middle by unblocked linebacker Daryl Smith and floated a pass to tight end Logan Paulsen along the left sideline. Conte swooped in, jumped to catch the ball and dashed untouched into the end zone.
"[Smith] came off the edge," Cutler said after the game. "I've just got to put it outside or 'dirt' it. I just left it inside and Chris made a heck of a play."
(2) Even when the Bears weren't turning the ball over, their offense was not productive.
Remember when the offense's biggest problem was settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns in the red zone? At least field goals count for three points. The Bears only advanced inside the Buccaneers' 20 on one possession Sunday and that drive ended with a lost fumble.
The Bears mustered just 10 points—scoring their only touchdown of the game on a 50-yard Hail Mary pass—against a Buccaneers team that had allowed 73 points in its previous two contests. After compiling 403 yards against the Vikings, the Bears were held to 283 by a Tampa Bay defense that had permitted a whopping 1,087 yards in its last two games against the Raiders and Falcons.
After the Buccaneers extended their lead to 24-10 early in the second half, the Bears went three-and-out on their next four possessions, gaining just two yards on 12 plays. The Chicago offense possessed the ball for just 12:33 of 45:00 over the final three quarters.
The Bears have scored 141 points in nine games this season, an average of 15.7 points that ranks 31st in the NFL. They're on pace to score 251 points this year, which would be their fewest since tallying 231 in 2004.
(3) Dealing with adversity is tough, but handling success has been even more difficult for the Bears.
On an emotional high after upsetting the Vikings and as healthy as they've been all season following their bye week, the Bears were confident heading into Tampa. Even with a disappointing 2-6 record, it seemed like they had turned a corner. Unfortunately, they never saw the brick wall that was right around that corner.
The Bears are now 0-5 in games immediately following wins since last November, the last time they recorded back-to-back victories when they beat the Chargers and Rams, both on the road. Last year they registered a stunning win over the Packers Thanksgiving night in Green Bay and proceeded to lose their next two games at home to the Redskins and 49ers, two teams that combined to go 2-0 in Chicago and 2-12 in their other road contests last season.