Cairo Santos kicked a 38-yard field goal with 1:13 remaining and the defense followed by forcing the Buccaneers to turn the ball over on downs with :33 to play as the Bears edged Tampa Bay 20-19 Thursday night at Soldier Field.
Santos' second field goal without a miss produced the fourth and final lead change in the second half. The Buccaneers reached their own 41, but safety DeAndre Houston-Carson broke up Tom Brady's pass intended for tight end Cameron Brate on fourth-and-six, preserving the win.
Making his second start this season, Nick Foles completed 30 of 42 passes for 243 yards with one touchdown, one interception and an 83.7 passer rating. Allen Robinson II led the Bears in receiving for the fifth time in as many games this season with 10 catches for 90 yards.
Brady completed 25 of 41 passes for 253 yards with one TD and an 86.7 passer rating.
Off and running: With Thursday night's win, the Bears improved to 4-1 and crept to within a half-game of the first-place Packers (4-0). It's their best five-game start since they opened 4-1 in 2012 in Lovie Smith's final season as coach. In each of Matt Nagy's first two years in 2018-19, the Bears started 3-1 and then lost their next two games to drop to 3-3. In John Fox's three seasons as coach from 2015-17, the Bears opened 2-3, 1-4 and 1-4.
Last Sunday, Nagy became only the second Bears coach to have a winning record after the first four games in each of his first three seasons since George Halas, who did it in the franchise's first three years of existence from 1920-22.
Beating Brady: The Bears defeated Brady Thursday night for the first time in six meetings. During his 20 seasons with the Patriots from 2000-19, the future Hall of Famer led New England to wins over the Bears by scores of 33-30 in 2002, 17-13 in 2006, 36-7 in 2010, 51-23 in 2014 and 38-31 in 2018. In those five games, Brady completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 1,595 yards with 14 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 109.2 passer rating.
Math matters: Since 1990, 76.0 percent of teams (114 of 150) that have started a season 4-1 have qualified for the playoffs, while 49.8 percent of clubs (123 of 247) that opened 3-2 have reached the postseason.
Sitting out: Bears reserve safeties and special-teams contributors Sherrick McManis and Deon Bush both missed Thursday night's game with hamstring injuries. Other Bears inactives were guard Arlington Hambright, nose tackle Daniel McCullers, receiver Riley Ridley and outside linebacker Trevis Gipson.
Here's a blow-by-blow recap of Thursday night's game:
The Buccaneers took a 3-0 lead on Ryan Succop's 39-yard field goal on the game's opening possession. The kick came after Roquan Smith broke up Brady's pass intended for tight end Tanner Hudson on third-and-six from the 21.
On the Bears' second drive of the game, Foles' low throw to Robinson went in and out of the receiver's hands and was intercepted by cornerback Carlton Davis, who returned it 34 yards to the 50.
Tampa Bay converted the turnover into Brady's 2-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mike Evans, who beat Jaylon Johnson to extend the Buccaneers' lead to 10-0 late in the first quarter. The drive was highlighted by Brady's 34-yard pass to receiver Tyler Johnson, who broke tackles by Johnson and Danny Trevathan.
The Buccaneers increased their lead to 13-0 on Succop's 35-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. The drive was sustained by a pair of Bears penalties—a 15-yarder on Kyle Fuller for a facemask and a 16-yarder on Johnson for pass interference.
The Bears followed by scoring two touchdowns in a 1:12 span late in the first half to take a 14-13 lead. First, David Montgomery capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, cutting the deficit to 13-7 with 1:48 remaining in the half. Foles completed 7 of 8 passes for 64 yards on the drive, including a 25-yarder to Patterson.
On the Buccaneers' subsequent drive, Fuller drilled running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn on a third-and-10 pass over the middle. A flag was thrown on Fuller, but the officials picked it up. The play was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but a replay review showed that it was a fumble and a clear recovery by Robert Quinn at the Buccaneers' 27.
The Bears turned the takeaway into Foles' 12-yard TD pass to Jimmy Graham, taking a 14-13 lead with :36 left in the half. Graham caught the ball with his right hand while his left hand was being held by cornerback Jamel Dean.
After the Bears offense went three-and-out to open the second half, Succop's third field goal without a miss, a 46-yarder, gave the Buccaneers a 16-14 lead. The key play on the drive was Jones' 27-yard run.
The Bears regained a 17-16 lead on Santos' 47-yard field goal with 10:34 left in the fourth quarter. But the Buccaneers answered on Succop's 25-yard field goal, taking a 19-17 advantage with 4:49 to play.
But that set the stage for Santos' go-ahead field goal and a last stand by the defense that clinched the win.
See the game unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers as the Bears face off against the Buccaneers at home under the lights in Chicago.