The Buccaneers have a chance to make some better memories on Sunday against the Chicago Bears than they did the last time the two teams got together. Tampa Bay came up short 20-19 in Week 5 a season ago on a Thursday night. Unfortunately, the final score wasn’t the only thing that stood out that evening in Soldier Field.
Last year’s contest is infamous for Tom Brady not realizing the correct down on the final play of the Bucs’ last drive of the game. Brady claimed that he knew it was 4th down after his final incompletion but held up four fingers as if he thought there was one down remaining. He was later able to poke fun at himself about it and admit to the mistake after Tampa Bay went on to win the Super Bowl.
Entering the 2020 season Brady was a perfect 5-0 against the Bears. Last year was not only a chance to stay perfect against the Monsters of the Midway, but a chance for the Buccaneers signal caller to get a bit of revenge opposing then Bears’ starting quarterback Nick Foles. The Super Bowl LII MVP steered the Philadelphia Eagles to a 41-33 win over Brady and the New England Patriots.
That particular game in 2020 was also costly to Tampa Bay when it resulted in the loss of defensive tackle Vita Vea to a fractured ankle for the remainder of the regular season. Ironically, it ended up being a bit of a blessing in disguise. The Bucs defensive line held up until a fresh Vea was able to return for the postseason run against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
Last year’s Bears game also provided memories of the wrong kind for a pair of then Bucs rookies. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s fumble late in the 2nd Quarter at the Tampa Bay 25 yard line led to a Bears touchdown five plays later that would prove costly. Left Tackle Tristan Wirfs appeared as he was helping All Pro Linebacker Khalil Mack with a pro wrestling tryout in the 3rd Quarter when Mack hip tossed Wirfs right after getting past him for a sack on Brady.
Last season’s game between the former NFC Central rivals ultimately was one that helped the Bucs in preparation of what was ahead. Mistakes, including 11 penalties for 109 yards, shined a light on what Tampa Bay needed to do and not do to be successful long term.
Yes, this is 2021 and a new year, however, history should not be forgotten. Especially the kind that ended so negatively and could have been avoided with better play. Ultimately, whether the memories this time around against the Bears are good or bad for the Bucs will be determined by Sunday’s result at Raymond James Stadium.