3 and Out: Bears fall to Buccaneers, extend losing streak to 12 games

Justin Fields throws critical pick six in closing minutes

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields is tackled by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka during the first half, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Tampa, Fla.

Justin Fields and the Bears had the football late Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a chance to tie or win the game. Instead, the Bears head home from Tampa, Florida, with an 0-2 start and their 12th consecutive loss dating to last season.

Here’s what you need to know from the 27-17 loss:

Three moments that mattered

1. Backbreaker: Deep in his own territory with 2:03 remaining and trailing 20-17, Fields lofted a screen right into the hands of Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett, who had recognized the screen and dropped into coverage. Barrett returned it 4 yards for the dagger score. It was a brutal decision by Fields, killing a potential comeback before the drive even had a chance to get started.

1. And, scene: With 1:07 left, Fields attempted a short pass to Chase Claypool, which was intercepted by Christian Izien on a contested throw over the middle. Turnovers – and the offensive line – remain major concerns for the Bears moving forward.

3. Still in it: This was a crucial game for Claypool. After a performance in the season opener that was called out by nearly everyone, Claypool had to become a bigger factor in the passing game. Although it wasn’t a spotless afternoon, he did come through with a 20-yard touchdown to pull the Bears within 20-17 with 6:17 left. Claypool finished with three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. Fields’ TD pass also was highlight-reel worthy.

Three things that worked

1. Moore of that: After DJ Moore was targeted only twice last week, getting their prized offseason more involved had to be a priority. The first drive, as we discuss below, was a good start. Moore then had a crucial two-catch stretch of 22 and 12 yards that set the stage for Claypool’s touchdown with 6:17 remaining to make it a three point game. Moore finished with six catches for 104 yards. Seven targets is better, but it can go higher.

2. Off to a good start: After last week’s disastrous showing, the offense – on a scripted drive – coming out with a touchdown cleansed the palate. Fields found Moore for two catches, including a long 42-yarder. Fields then cashed-in on a designed run to the edge for the score. That type of drive and tempo quickly disappeared.

3. Plenty of tackles: It’s largely a byproduct of a defensive line that struggles to generate any pressure, but linebackers TJ Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds continue to rack up tackles, a combined 28 this week. They both came in with big free agent contracts and are producing early in their Chicago tenures.

Three things that didn’t

1. JF1: We’ll discuss it more below, but the expected progression in the third year of Fields’ career still needs to genuinely present itself. Sure, there are moments of brilliance (the throw on the Claypool TD is a perfect example), but the overall play from the pocket has a long way to go. Two interceptions to end the game is just the tip of the iceberg.

2. Watch the tape: In prolonged stretches, Fields appears to be missing opportunities downfield, among other issues. One particular example: On the Bears’ final drive of the first half, Fields had choices downfield and time in the pocket but didn’t pull the trigger fast enough. After getting hit, he fumbled. The Bears were fortunate Lucas Patrick fell on it, resulting in a field goal. Fields was also sacked earlier on the drive.

3. Tyrique Stevenson: The rookie corner was picked on all day, and Bucs wideout Mike Evans found plenty of room to operate. It was highlighted by Evans’ 32-yard touchdown on third-and-14 with 4:06 left in the third quarter. Evans cooked for six catches and 171 yards on eight targets in a long day for the Bears’ banged-up secondary.

What’s next?

The Bears visit Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Kickoff is at 3:25 p.m.

Jacob Bartelson

Jacob Bartelson

Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.