Cutler, Bears suffer humiliating loss in Tampa
Apparently the Chicago Bears' victory over the Vikings on Halloween Night was an aberration.
And it evidently didn't provide any momentum in Sunday's humiliating 36-10 loss in Tampa, Florida. The Bucs had lost six straight at home and 18 of their previous 21.
The Bears turned the ball over five times, including 4 by quarterback Jay Cutler.
"We didn't play well," Cutler said. "I didn't play well. Too many turnovers. When you have that many turnovers, it's hard to win."
The Bucs improved to 4-5, while the Bears, who had entertained hopes of turning around a disastrous season after defeating Minnesota, fell to 2-7. Coach John Fox is 8-17 since succeeding Marc Trestman, who was fired after going 13-19 in two seasons.
Playing against the league's No. 28 defense, the Bears' offense was horrible - especially Cutler. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 182 yards with 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown and a 55.1 passer rating. He also fumbled twice, including once in the end zone, resulting in a safety.
But Fox declined to single out the quarterback for criticism.
"Really, our whole team was off today," Fox said. "I don't think you can put it on one guy. We just weren't as consistent as we were (against the Vikings). I didn't see it coming. We had a great week of preparation, a great plan in all three phases."
The Bears converted just two of 11 third-down opportunities (18 percent), managed only 283 total yards, and their longest "drive" was six plays.
The defense allowed the Bucs to convert 8 of 15 third downs (53 percent), had no take-aways and were strafed by Jameis Winston, who produced a 107.1 passer rating.
"Whenever you lose 5-0 on the turnover margin," Fox said, "it's not usually a good day, at least in most games I've been in."
And, of course, because this is the 2016 Bears, there were injuries added to the insult. Fox's team came in as healthy as it has been all year but didn't leave that way.
Right guard Kyle Long was carted off the field early in the second quarter with a sprained ankle, and right tackle Bobby Massie left a few minutes later with a concussion.
Defensive lineman Will Sutton left with a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter, as did running back Jordan Howard, who also might have an Achilles injury.
Nose tackle Eddie Goldman, back for the first time after missing six games with a sprained ankle, left in the fourth quarter, also with an ankle injury.
Cutler's 50-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Cam Meredith on the final play of the first half, briefly provided hope, cutting the Bucs' lead to 17-10.
"We felt good," Cutler said. "We're down one score as bad as we had played. So we felt good about where we were at."
But one big play didn't make up for the previous 29:50 of horrendous football by Cutler and the offense. Another 30 minutes of dispirited play followed.
Take away Meredith's only reception, and Cutler's passer rating was 35.4.
Before that the Bears committed 4 turnovers, 3 by Cutler, as they dug a 17-3 hole late in the second quarter, which could have been much deeper.
Both first-half touchdowns for the Bucs came after Bears turnovers. Cutler's second pick was returned 24 yards for a touchdown by safety Chris Conte, giving the Bucs a 7-0 lead just 9:26 in.
It was sweet revenge for Conte, who was drafted in the third round by the Bears in 2011 but frequently vilified by fans for missed tackles. He signed with the Bucs as a free agent before the 2015 season.
Howard's fumble at the Bears' 30-yard line gave the Bucs great field position.
They took advantage, scoring on Winston's 10-yard pass to tight end Cameron Brate. The Naperville Central and Harvard product (7 catches, 84 yards) hurt the Bears throughout the day. Brate's TD pushed the Bucs' lead to 14-3 with 3:33 left in the first half.
It would only get worse.
Fox's message to his team?
"We'll hang together," he said, "and we'll go back to the drawing board. We've got to get better."
It's tough to imagine the Bears getting any worse.
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