While there was a myriad of penalties and sloppy play throughout the game, the Bucs and Bears found themselves in a very entertaining game on Thursday night. Both teams went back-and-forth in trading the lead, but the Bucs couldn’t get far enough down the field to attempt a game winning field goal, falling to the Bears 20-19 and dropping to 3-2 on the season.
In a frustrating loss, these were the most impressive players from the game.
RB Ronald Jones
Jones ran hard all game while breaking multiple tackles from the Bears defense. There were at least two times where Jones absorbed a hit in the backfield, spun out, and managed to take it up the field for sizable gains. He continued his success on the ground in the second half, finding his way to the second and third level of the Bears’ defense for a 37-yard run early in the third. Jones was even able to haul in some passes as well. He made a nice reception down at the two-yard line that should have been a touchdown, but the Bucs did score on the next play. Jones was the best player on the Bucs offense in the game, rushing for 106 yards and 19 receiving yards on three receptions. It was the second straight game where Jones went over the century mark.
WR Tyler Johnson
For all the talk about some of the other rookies on this team, it was Johnson who had a breakout game. Johnson was the top target in the passing game, recording 61 yards on four receptions in the first half. His 35-yard reception that he took down to the 10 was the second longest play for the Bucs’ offense, and it set up their first touchdown of the game. Johnson didn’t have a reception in the second half, but it was promising sign for the rookie to have an impact in the game while leading the team in receiving yards.
TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski made two very important catches on the Bucs’ last scoring drive of the game to put them up 19-17 at the time. The first came on a screen pass that he took up the field for 23 yards, and the other was an impressive catch in between defenders that made it a chip-shot for Ryan Succop. This was Gronkowski’s best receiving game as a Buc so he looked more comfortable in the passing game than he previously had. Gronkowski finished the game with three receptions for 52 yards.
DT Will Gholston
When the Bucs were putting the pressure on Nick Foles, most of the time it was Gholston that was leading the way. Gholston had a team-best three quarterback hits on the game and notched one sack late in the fourth quarter. It looked to be a clutch sack at the time pinning the Bears back, but a roughing the passer penalty on Shaq Barrett gave the Bears a second chance. Gholston continues to build on a successful year so far through five games. He had four tackles in total to go along with the sack.
DT Vita Vea
Vea notched a sack for the second game in a row and was causing a lot of issues for the Bears offensive line. Despite an abundance of flags thrown in the game by the refs, Vea did not get the benefit of any holding penalties when it looked like he was held often. Even so, Vea managed to get to the quarterback and also was a force stopping the run game and breaking up a screen to David Montomgery. Unfortunately Vea had to be carted off the field late in the fourth quarter and his season could be in jeopardy. He was playing well up to that point, recording four tackles, one sack and a tackle for loss.
CB Jamel Dean
While the Bucs’ secondary didn’t have the best outing, Dean came was coming up big in crunch time during the fourth quarter. He had a near pick-six to start the Bears’ second-to-last drive and finished the game with four pass breakups all in the fourth quarter. That number ties the NFL lead for most pass breakups in an entire game this season. Along with the four passes defended, Dean recorded three tackles.
Honorable Mention: OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF) TE Cam Brate (5 receptions, 44 yards)