The Bucs dominated the first half, but somehow came out of it leading just 10-0. The Tampa Bay defense completely shut down Jay Cutler and company in the first half, allowing just 68 total yards for 2.3 yards per play, stopping the Bears on third down seven times, grabbing three sacks and forcing a turnover. That's the kind of performance the Bucs were expecting from the start of the season, but better late than never.
The offense wasn't as dominant in the first half, but it was still okay. Doug Martin's return wasn't that notable, though he did show a little burst, and Josh McCown was far from perfect, but a couple of perfect throws certainly helped, including a 19-yard touchdown to Mike Evans and a 27-yard sideline throw to Vincent Jackson on third-and-27. 10 points in the first half was a little meager, and that came back to bite them later in the game.
Because it took the Bucs all of one third quarter to give up all of their hard-earned lead, and then some. 12 minutes, two turnovers and some putrid play into the second half, the Bucs were suddenly down 21-10. Josh McCown didn't seem capable of handling a rain-soaked football on a rain-soaked field and threw terrible ball after terrible ball. Even when things did go his way, the refs took the ball away with a terrible ruling.
The fourth quarter was better, but not nearly good enough to turn things around. The offensive line collapsed and couldn't protect Josh McCown, who was alternately sharp and horrible on his throws.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got off to a good start, forcing a three-and-out on Chicago and subsequently dink-and-dunking their way down the field -- until protection broke down and Josh McCown threw a predictable interception under pressure.
The Bucs defense fixed that problem, though. One three-and-out was thwarted by a dubious rough-ing-the-kicker penalty, but Clinton McDonald first sacked Jay Cutler, and two plays later Gerald McCoy came in with the sack-fumble to give Josh McCown the chance to redeem himself.
McCown didn't waste his second chance and found Mike Evans in the endzone for the first touchdown of the game. With the Bucs leading 7-0, the Bears were up against it. The Tampa Bay defense had stifled them so far, forcing one turnover and managing three sacks.
Evans kind of ruined the after-effects of that touchdown with a taunting penalty, though. And that penalty led to the Bucs being pinned inside their own five-yard line, and being forced to punt the ball away. Thankfully, the Bucs defense continued to completely shut down the Bears offense. Unfortunately, the Bears defense did the same to the Bucs offense, which didn't get into scoring position again that half. They weren't helped by yet another terrible special-teams day, which included an 18-yard punt. 18 yards!
Despite all that, the Bucs defense didn't break, and the Bucs offense even managed to add a field goal right before half time after a wild drive that included a 54-yard Louis Murphy catch-and-run, a third-and-23 conversion to Vincent Jackson, and a near-interception in the endzone.
The Bucs didn't continue where they left off. Despite injuries to Lance Briggs and Kyle Fuller on the Bears defense, the Bucs came out with an ugly three-and-out on offense. The defense then immediately collapsed, in part because Mason Foster was forced to come off the field with an unspecified injury and the Bears immediately went after replacement Dane Fletcher, with success. The ultimate result was a short Alshon Jeffery touchdown, and the Bucs' lead cut to 10-7.
And then the collapse really began. Josh McCown first gave the ball to the Bears deep in Tampa Bay territory with a lost fumble, leading to a quick Matt Forte touchdown. One play later, he overthrew Charles Sims, which led to a tipped ball picked off by Ryan Mundy to set up another Matt Forte touchdown.
The Bucs' offense then seemed to get back into the game. Vincent Jackson got back into the red zone, but the ball came out and was ruled a fumble. On replay it clearly looked like Vincent Jackson was down, but the referees made the mind-boggling decision not overturn the ruling.
And just like that, in one quarter a 10-0 lead turned into a 21-10 deficit.
The Bucs spent all of the fourth quarter trying to come back from an 11-point deficit, which they had to do while fighting the Bears' attempts to run down the clock. Of course, their typically sluggish tempo on offense didn't help them there, either.
But Josh McCown did get them back into the game with a solid field-goal drive, even though he was pressured heavily every other snap. Louis Murphy even seemed to make a terrific catch on a ridiculous endzone throw, but he dropped the ball, forcing Patrick Murray to come out and make it 21-13 with just over five minutes left.
Somehow, the Bucs got the ball back with plenty of time, two timeouts and in good position. And somehow, they failed to convert both a third-and-one and a fourth-and-one to give them a shot at a touchdown. Just a shot.
Bucs fullback Jorvorskie Lane suffered what appeared to be a major lower-leg injury during the second quarter and had to be carted off.
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs left the field with a groin injury in the second quarter and did not return. Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller left the game with a knee injury and did not return.
Bucs tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins suffered a back injury in the third quarter and did not return. Linebacker Mason Foster suffered an arm injury but returned after missing one drive.
Bucs safety Major Wright left the game with a shoulder in the third quarter and did not return.
The Bucs face the Bengals at home, a game they have to win remain in the playoff hunt. Yes, for some reason they have not yet been eliminated from the playoffs. "Some reason" being "NFC South", of course.