1) Everybody remember how Tom Brady made a mistake late in the game against the Chicago Bears last season, costing the Buccaneers a potential win that could have helped win the NFC South or at least make the Bucs look like a 12-4 team instead of a 11-5 question mark for that postseason? And how Bears fans - and much of the NFL fanbase - mocked Brady constantly for that brain fart?
Tom Brady sure remembers. He had this game penciled in the second the schedule came out.
1a) Even with the Bucs up by five touchdowns, late in a game this season the Bucs were clearly going to win, the Bucs offense was STILL trying to punch it in for one more TD, one more for Brady to get 5 TDs instead of the 4 he ended up with. It didn't go the way Brady hoped for, but still a beatdown is a beatdown is a beatdown and GOOD GOD this was arguably the biggest thumping the Bucs have enjoyed in years.
1b) This game was one of contrasts. The Bears were coming in with a dinged up offense - their starting RBs were out, they were starting rookie QB Justin Fields probably earlier than they hoped - but with a defense built to give the Bucs' passing attack trouble all day. Bucs' offense is arguably the best in the league in terms of scoring at will, with a passing attack that can cause matchup headaches even with Antonio Brown and Gronk out, but with a defensive lineup with a dinged-up secondary that could let a rookie QB have a big day.
What happened was a consistent and surprisingly balanced offensive attack for the Bucs, relying less on the passing game and a lot more on Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones pounding the ground for gains, first downs, and long drives, only going to the air for end zone TDs and making the Bears D look bad. But that ground game also worked for the Bears as their backup RB Khalil Herbert garnered the first 100-yard day the Bucs D gave up this year.
1c) What hurt the Bears today was that rookie QB. Fields is clearly not ready for the speed and ferocity of the pro level, which showed often with the Bucs' obvious blitz packages getting in his face all day. That pressure led to sacks, killed drives, and costly turnovers. The Bucs D feasted today in a way they hadn't since that game against Detroit last year. This led to arguably the easiest win the Bucs will see all year... until that Jets game later this year.
2) Player of the Game: Tom Brady did not statistically have his greatest game ever, but one of his most dominant. Four passing TDs, zero INTs, reaching a milestone of 600 TDs in his pro career (a number no other active QB is CLOSE to reaching), and making good passes on third down (the TV game crew brought up a stat showing he had his best 3rd-down numbers in his whole career). The only big knock today was he barely got over 200 yards throwing, but part of that wasn't his fault: Bucs had short field position due to turnovers more often than not.
2a) Leonard Fournette showed up early as the primary back, racking up the first TD of the game and 82 yards total rushing. The only reason he didn't break 100 yards on the ground himself...
2b) Was Ronald Jones II showed up later in the game pounding out 63 yards rushing on 10 carries, garnering first downs for drives and proving he can still be of value to this team (distant cries of "DON'T TRADE ME, LICHT" echoing from the stadium's locker room).
2c) With Antonio Brown out, the passing game had to rely on Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and by GOD (Win) the two delivered. Evans grabbed three TD passes, Godwin getting 111 yards and a TD as well.
2d) The Bucs' offensive line kept Brady's jersey clean all game, giving up no sacks and very little pressure. They also contributed to that rushing game today, opening up big lanes especially for RoJo. Huge props to Smith, Marpet, Jensen, Cappa, and Wirfs.
2e) The Bucs defensive front had their best day of the year so far. Jason Pierre-Paul was back from injury and racked up 2 sacks, forced a fumble, and pressured Fields for half the game.
2f) Shaquil Barrett had a solid day with a sack as well, a forced fumble as well, and recovered a fumble later on.
2g) The guy who opened up the game with a key sack? Safety Antoine Winfield Jr., also back from injury when the Bucs needed him most.
2h) The other safety Jordan Whitehead snagged himself a big INT and return that put the Bucs in good field position.
2i) Dee Delaney, one of the backup CBs from practice squad filling in for the banged-up secondary, had himself a big INT... before HE went out with an injury. More on that later.
2j) There's ANOTHER guy with an interception, Pierre (?) Desir (?!?!) who I don't think was even on the roster when the game started. I have no idea where he came from. THAT'S HOW DESPERATE WE ARE FOR HEALTHY BODIES IN THAT BACKFIELD...
2k) I dismissed the draft pick of Jaelon Darden back in April because I feared he was too short to be a decent backup to the WR corps. Well, he finally started as the kick returner today, and what does he do? On his first punt he breaks open for a 43 yard scamper giving Brady incredible field position to put the game up early with a 7-0 score. After that, the Bears refused to punt at him for the rest of the game. I think this Darden kid might pan out...
3) And now for the bad news: MIKE EVANS GAVE UP THE PRIZED 600TH PASSING TD FOR TOM BRADY BY GIVING IT AWAY TO A FAN IN THE END ZONE.
I am not kidding. This became a media scandal. The CBS announcers spent half the game talking about it. NBC's "Football Night" show talked about it. I'm sure ESPN shows will yammer about it on Monday. Ye Gods, people, the Bucs krewe negotiated for that ball back, what the hell is you problem?!?!
3a) Seriously, the Bucs ended this game with more injury woes, with Delaney and Jamal Dean both banged up and getting taped up in the locker room for the next 4-6 weeks. It's like we can't keep any of our cornerbacks healthy for longer than two straight games. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON with their training? Is somebody screwing around with their cleats or ankle guards or something???
3b) The Bucs are 6-1 for the second time in team history, having one of their better Octobers with solid wins and a 4-game win streak. Unlike the 2003 collapse, this 2021 team is showing signs of being better coached and led by better offensive talent that can honestly get Tampa Bay to 12-14 wins. But those injury issues are starting to pile up.
4) Statistics of the game: Turnovers. Chicago coughed it up five times - 3 INTs, 2 fumbles - compared to Tampa's one fumble giveaway (which happened on a 4th and goal failure late in the game when it was pretty much over). Bucs scored 17 points off those turnovers, with a missed FG late in the Second Quarter keeping it from being worse. Those turnovers kept the Bears completely out of the game.
4a) PENALTIES WILL BE THE DEATH OF THE BEARS I S... oh wait. This was actually a low-flag afternoon, Bears getting hit 4 times to the Bucs getting flagged once for offensive holding. There WAS a major personal foul when a Bears player punched Jensen (he has been an instigator here and there) and got ejected as well, but it ended up being meaningless in a blowout game anyway.
4b) Rushing yards: Bucs won this stat with 182 total rushing... but they let the Bears rack up 142 yards on the ground. This was the worst defensive showing against the run in YEARS. This is attributed to the loss of Lavonte David to injury, which can be a serious problem for next week's matchup...
4c) Red Zone performance: Bucs visited seven times and came out with 5 TDs. One visit was a missed FG and the second was a failed goal-line run attempt that ended up fumbling anyway. Bears showed up in the Red Zone two times and came away empty.
4d) First downs: Bucs racked up 28 (12 of them rushing) compared to the Bears (6 rushing). Bucs' offense could drive early and often, only getting into 12 third down situations (oddly enough only making 4 of them all game).
5) In other professional NFL News: Did anybody think the Atlanta Falcons could win today? Well, against the sinking Miami Dolphins, they eked out a win and kept themselves afloat for... um... something.
5a) What the hell happened to Kansas City? The Chiefs had their worst offensive performance since the Super Bowl, Mahomes got dinged up bad, and their defense can't stop anybody by the looks of things.
5b) What the hell happened to Carolina? The Panthers had a great start (3-0 opening season) and Sam Darnold looked like a real QB for once in his pro life. Then their key RB Christian McCaffrey went out with injury and that offense turned into (expletive). They're now struggling to stay ahead of Atlanta...
5c) Anybody playing the New York Jets will (mostly) look like a dominant team. The Patriots just scored 50 points on them today, a point total the Pats hadn't seen since... (checks notes) 2007?!?! Seriously, I thought New England scored more than that in the Butt Fumble game...
5d) Cincinnati just WHOMPED the hell out of Baltimore today. The Bengals are not a joke team right now, and their QB-to-WR tandem of Burrow to Chase (who snagged 201 receiving yards and 2 TDs and pretty much the Offensive Rookie of the YEAR honors) is the scariest in the league (scarier than Brady-to-AB, which should tell you something).
5e) The only thing keeping the rest of the NFL from being terrified of the 6-1 LA Rams are the 7-0 Arizona Cardinals. The Cards are playing with a hot offense led by the hot young QB of the hour Kyler Murray and anchored by a surprisingly good defense.
6) In professional college football news: DAMMIT COASTAL CAROLINA YOU HAD ONE JOB, WIN ALL YOUR GAMES. Now you won't even get invited to the Papa Johns Bowl...
6a) The only joy greater than seeing Alabama or Notre Dame getting beat is watching a touted Big 10 school getting beat. So long, Penn State.
6b) AT LAST, the South Florida Bulls WON A GODDAMN GAME AGAINST AN AAC OPPONENT SINCE 2019. And they won by rushing it for 421 total yards, a school record. The bad news: The Bulls ran it that often because the QB situation is a mess and the team barely racked up 105 passing yards all night.
6c) I wanna root for Cincinnati to stay highly ranked if only to fck up the damned playoff scoring system and make it impossible for the damn polling voters to sneak losers like Alabama back into the postseason.
6d) CMON WAKE FOREST! GO UNDEFEATED! Screw up the ad money for the playoff games bwhahahahahaha.
6e) In other AAC news, the conference has responded to the future loss of UCF, Cincy and Houston by agreeing to add on teams from C-USA and Sun Belt like UA-Birmingham, Rice, North Texas, UT-San Antonio (those three keeping the Texas market), FAU (to replace UCF) and Charlotte (NC). This is not too shabby, granted none of these schools will help the conference contend for the coveted power conference playoff opportunities. But it's better than utter collapse and dismantling. In the meantime, can we do something about Charlotte? Their team mascot are THE 49ers??? THE WHAT?!?! THERE'S NO GOLD MINING IN CHARLOTTE, WHAT THE HELL. IT'S A BAD NAME, CHARLOTTE, CHANGE THAT DAMN MASCOT TO SOMETHING MORE LOGICAL LIKE "RAGING CAPYBARAS" OR SOMETHING.
Yes, kill us now to put us out of our misery. Two of the least-liked teams on the national stage, Houston still stinging from their cheating scandal and the Braves bringing us an offensive mascot and more offensive fan battlecry. Does ANYBODY outside of those markets wanna root for either one?
8) In professional hockey news, DAMMIT LIGHTNING STOP LOSING IN OVERTIME.
8a) Stamkos setting goals/scoring records is nice, but wins are nicer.
8b) Do people still LIVE in Edmonton...?
9) In movie news: Christ. The shooting death of a cinematographer due to a mishandled firearm prop is tragic as hell. Early reports are that the union crew had quit earlier that morning due to unsafe working conditions, and the damned producers (including actor Alec Baldwin) decided to bring in non-union help which lead to the wrong gun in the wrong hands (actor Alec Baldwin, who now has to live with this for the rest of his life).
In this day of advanced visual effects of CGI post-production, the need for working firearms - even WITH blanks and other safety protocols - no longer exists. It shouldn't have been like this after what happened to Brandon Lee on the Crow back in 1993. It doesn't have to be like this now. TAKE THE GUNS OFF THE SETS. For the Love of God.
9a) The movie Dune *looks* beautiful. It looks exactly how it should have been in 1984, and better than the 2000 miniseries. The *plot* on the other hand still has its issues: certain subplots have already been dropped in Part One, key characters left out for too long a time, and a sense that they're rushing this thing. I hope that the producers decide on releasing an Extended Blu-Ray cut on discs the way they did for the LOTR trilogy films back in 2001-2004.
10) Next up: Bucs travel to New Orleans for a little Trick-or-Treating against the New Orleans Saints. People are thinking this is a revenge game for Jameis Winston. I'm more worried the Saints will hit us with their running game instead.
COMMENT BELOW AND REC' ME, PEOPLE.