For the first time all season, the Bucs let Tom Brady down.
You could tell by how many times they had to help him up.
He was sacked three times, hit on a ton of other occasions and saw his offensive line commit penalty after penalty.
The Bucs quarterback staked his team to a 13-point lead. The Chicago Bears erased it by halftime.
They couldn’t protect Brady, or the few points they hung on the scoreboard.
It caught up to them in the end, as Cairo Santos kicked a 38-yard field goal with 1:13 remaining to give the Bears a 20-19 win.
The Bucs had one last chance, but Brady’s pass for Cameron Brate on fourth and 5 from the Tampa Bay 41 was incomplete, and Tampa Bay turned the ball over on downs with 33 seconds remaining.
The loss ended a three-game win streak for the Bucs (3-2), who played their second game in five days.
Ryan Succop kicked four goals, including a 25-yarder with 4:49 remaining that gave the Bucs a 19-17 lead.
"I didn’t have this team ready to play,'' coach Bruce Arians said.
"We’ll see who we are next week. This is one game I thought we got out-coached and we got outplayed.''
The Bucs had 11 penalties Thursday night for 109 yards.
Make no mistake, the Bucs are a beat-up football team. They have plenty of bumps and bruises.
By the end of Thursday night, Mike Evans couldn’t run and Ke’Shawn Vaughn couldn’t breathe and Tristan Wirfs and Donovan Smith couldn’t block. Many of their best offensive weapons were left in Tampa.
Defensive tackle Vita Vea was carted off the field with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.
The Bucs blew a 13-0 lead in the first half, despite dominating most of the action. Carlton Davis intercepted his third pass of the season, and Brady made them pay with a three-yard touchdown pass to Evans.
Succop added a pair of field goals, and it looked as if the Bucs were on their way.
But Bears quarterback Nick Foles has shown an ability to strike quickly and he led the Bears on a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by David Montgomery’s three-yard touchdown run.
Then came one of the biggest plays of the game.
Vaughn, who caught the game-winning TD Sunday against the Chargers, caught a short pass from Brady and was hit hard by Kyle Fuller, fumbling the football.
Originally, the play was ruled an incomplete pass. But the Bears won the challenge and took over on the Tampa Bay 27-yard line.
A few plays later, Foles threw a pass high in the end zone to tight end Jimmy Graham, who out-jumped cornerback Jamel Dean for the touchdown. Suddenly, the Bears went to halftime leading 14-13.
An explosive 37-yard run by Ronald Jones on their first play of the second half ignited the Bucs.
But a block in the back penalty on Rob Gronkowski forced the Bucs to settle for another field goal, this time from 46 yards. Nonetheless, the Bucs went ahead again, 16-14.
A pass-interference penalty on Davis trying to shadow Allen Robinson led to a 47-yard field goal by Santos. Just like that, the Bears were back on top 17-16.