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Turning The Tide: Breaking down the two plays that determined the Bucs-Bears game

Ugh.

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Turning The Tide is a weekly segment where Evan will pick the offensive and defensive play that turned the game. Whether it was for good or for bad, we will break it all down and tell you what went wrong or what went right.


Offense

Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s fumble at the Bucs’ 26-yard line

I’ll tell you one thing: Breaking down film is a lot more fun after a win. And it’s a lot more fun when you don’t have to use the All-22 angle that the Bears provide (it’s the wooooorst).

But I digress.

This play was huge and it certainly swung the momentum in the Bears’ favor for the rest of the game. Tampa Bay had just received the ball after Chicago scored its first touchdown of the game to cut the deficit to 13-7. Obviously, the idea was to put together a scoring drive in response to the aforementioned score.

It didn’t take long for that plan to fall apart. Three plays into the drive —on 3rd and 10— Tom Brady hit Vaughn on a checkdown and he was instantly laid out by Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller. The ball just fell out of Vaughn’s hands and on to the turf, where the Bears recovered for no gain.

A flag was originally thrown for an illegal hit and the play was initially ruled incomplete, but both calls were overruled after further review. It was clear Vaughn was making a football move after the reception and it was a perfect hit by Fuller.

I’m talking textbook.

The Bears would go on to score another touchdown, which gave them a 14-13 lead just before halftime. The Bucs went from leading by nearly two touchdowns to down a point in the blink of an eye. It was a major momentum swing that changed the game from this point on. Neither team led by more than two points during the four second-half lead changes.

And to add insult to injury: Brady missed an open Tyler Johnson running across the field. Watch No. 18 release from the right slot position (he’s on the right side of the screen). There’s a great chance he would’ve had the first down if Brady went his way, too.

Brady was feeling the pressure, which obviously rushed his decision, but it also looks like some of the Bear defenders clouded his field of vision to where he couldn’t see Johnson. Regardless, you can’t help but wonder what could’ve been if Brady saw the rookie receiver.

Hopefully Brady the coaching staff will take note of this for the next time.

Defense

The Missed Fumble Recovery In The Fourth Quarter

There are two plays that could’ve made it here: This one and the 3rd and 9 conversion by Anthony Miller on the Bears’ game-winning drive. I’ll explain why I chose this play here in a bit.

The Bucs were up 16-14 at this point. The Bears were just given a huge break with a questionable DPI call on Carlton Davis III that helped overcome a 3rd and 2. Chicago had just picked up a first down that placed them inside the red zone at the Bucs’ 15.

But the Bucs’ defense rose to the occasion. Todd Bowles sends five guys after Foles and Jason Pierre-Paul blows by right tackle Bobbie Massie. The Bucs are able to stay tight in coverage, which prevents Foles from getting the ball out quickly. The excellent play by JPP and the coverage form the perfect circumstances for the strip sack.

This is a great play by the Bucs. It needs to happen on a frequent basis. But what turns the tide against the Bucs in this one is the fact that the defense wasn’t able to fall on the ball. Instead Chicago recovers and is able to hit the field goal to go up, 17-16.

I understand that fumble recoveries are mostly luck. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’m not docking any points from this play. As I just said, it’s a great play and hopefully we see it on a consistent basis. In this instance, however, the missed fumble recovery allowed the Bears to tack on three points and take the lead back from the Bucs with under 10 minutes left in the game.

The reason why I chose this play instead of Miller’s reception on 3rd and 9 is this: We know for a fact that if the Bucs recover this fumble, then that’s three points off the board for the Bears. Assuming everything continues as it played out, the Bucs would go down on the ensuing drive and kick a field goal. The score would then be 19-14 instead of the 19-17 score we saw after the Bucs’ field goal on the next drive.

Regardless of whether it’s a five-point lead or a two-point lead, the Bears were in four-down territory on that 3rd and 9. If Miller comes up a yard short —or doesn’t even make the catch— how do we know the Bucs stop on the Bears on the fourth-and-whatever attempt?

We don’t know that, but we know for sure that three points would’ve come off the board with the fumble recovery. The Bucs lost by a point. It’s easy math.

Both plays were huge, but for me, the one that turned the tide against the Bucs the most was this missed opportunity late in the game.


Which play turned the tide against the Bucs the most? Let us know via the poll/comment section below!

Poll

Which play turned the tide against the Bucs the most?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s fumble
    (121 votes)
  • 9%
    The missed fumble recovery
    (12 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now

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