The Bears needed to play a mistake-free game to upset future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and the Buccaneers Sunday in Tampa.
Unfortunately, they committed a series of costly miscues, enabling the Buccaneers to race to a 35-3 halftime lead en route to a lopsided 38-3 victory at Raymond James Stadium.
"It's definitely embarrassing," said linebacker Roquan Smith. "You never want to go out and play like that because that's not our standard. But it is what it is and we've just got to grow and get better from it because that's all we can do and just can't let this game beat us twice."
In the first half, the Bears committed three turnovers, allowed four sacks and went 0-of-7 on third down. Under constant pressure, Justin Fields threw one interception and lost two of three fumbles.
The Buccaneers took advantage of the mistakes, as Brady threw four touchdown passes, including three to Mike Evans. Tampa Bay scored three TDs on possessions that started at the Bears' 32, 40 and 35.
"It was a tough one," said coach Matt Nagy. "You go into this game and you're facing a pretty good football team on the road and a great quarterback. In these instances, you've got to be damn near perfect, you really do, in a lot of phases.
"The one thing you can't do is you can't give a short field to a great quarterback like that and a great offense that's well-coached."
Lachavious Simmons, a surprise starter at right tackle after the Bears placed Elijah Wilkinson on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier Sunday, was benched in favor of Alex Bars after allowing two strip/sacks that resulted in turnovers.
Khalil Herbert provided a bright spot for the Bears, rushing for 91 of his 100 yards in the first half against a Buccaneers defense that had entered Week 7 allowing an NFL-best 54.8 yards on the ground.
Fields accounted for all five Bears turnovers in the game with three interceptions and two lost fumbles. On third downs, the Bears went 2-of-11 with four sacks and four turnovers.
Here's what transpired in the game:
After the Bears opened the game with a three-and-out, Tampa Bay's Jaelon Darden returned Pat O'Donnell's punt 43 yards to the Chicago 32.
Two plays later, Leonard Fournette's 2-yard touchdown run gave the Buccaneers a 7-0 lead.
Herbert broke loose for a 29-yard burst on the Bears' next play from scrimmage. But Cole Kmet dropped Fields' third-down pass, and the Bears were forced to punt again.
On their third possession, Fields escaped pressure in the pocket, scrambled to his right and threw downfield to Allen Robinson II. But Robinson slipped and the pass was easily intercepted by cornerback Dee Delaney, who returned the pick 26 yards to the Bears' 40.
The Buccaneers converted the turnover into Brady's 4-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin, increasing their lead to 14-0.
The Bears turned the ball over again on their next drive on a strip/sack of Fields. Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett beat Simmons, forcing a fumble that was recovered by nose tackle Vita Vea at the Chicago 35.
Tampa Bay turned the fumble into Brady's 600th career touchdown pass, a 9-yarder to Evans that made the score 21-0 late in the first quarter.
The Bears then committed their third turnover as outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul beat Simmons off the edge and sacked Fields, forcing a fumble that the Buccaneers returned to the Chicago 25.
This time, the Bears defense held, and Ryan Succop missed a 43-yard field goal attempt wide right.
The Bears cut the deficit to 21-3 on Cairo Santos' 28-yard field goal with 6:08 remaining in the second quarter.
The Buccaneers answered immediately as Brady connected with Evans on back-to-back plays for 46 yards, followed by a 2-yard TD that made it 28-3 with 3:35 to play in the first half.
Brady's fourth TD pass of the first half and third to Evans, an 8-yarder, made the score 35-3 with :09 left.
The Bears reached the Buccaneers' 15 on their first possession of the second half. But after Sam Mustipher was penalized for holding, Fields' pass deflected off Darnell Mooney's hands and was intercepted by safety Jerome Whitehead.
Fields' third interception of the game came on the first play of the fourth quarter. On second-and-11 from his own 1, his pass down the right sideline intended for Robinson was intercepted by cornerback Pierre Desir at the Bears' 37.
The Buccaneers converted the turnover into Succop's 22-yard field goal, extending their lead to 38-3 with 12:51 left in regulation.
Brady was replaced by Blaine Gabbert with 7:58 remaining after completing 20 of 36 passes for 211 yards with four touchdowns, no turnovers or sacks, and a 109.8 passer rating.
Take a behind-the-lens look at the Bears' Week 7 game against the Buccaneers through the shots of our field-level photographers inside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.