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Takeaways From the Buccaneers' 38-3 Triumph Over Bears

AllBucs' observsations from the Buccaneers' thrashing of the Bears.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers flat-out dominated the Chicago Bears en route to the team's best start in franchise history, standing at 6-1 with a strong grip on the first-place ranking in the NFC South entering Week 8.

You can find AllBucs' takeaways from the Bucs' 38-3 victory below.

Takeaways, takeaways, takeaways

Tampa Bay generated seven turnover-worthy plays on Sunday and successfully took the ball away five times, six if you include a turnover-on-downs. Four of those turnovers occurred in the first half, which led to a Buccaneers' halftime lead of 35-3.

Jason Pierre-Paul, who is playing through nagging injuries, led the team with two sacks, one of which being a strip-sack. Shaquil Barrett had his hands on a few big plays as well, posting three tackles, a strip-sack of his own, and a fumble recovery. Dee Delaney, Jordan Whitehead and Pierre Desir all tallied interceptions.

This is why the Buccaneers won on Sunday. The Bucs started drives on Chicago's side of the field on five of their eight first-half possessions and scored touchdowns on four of them (missing a field goal on the lone non-score).

Apart from taking the ball away, Tampa Bay was able to apply ample pressure on Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields, sacking him four times, forcing three interceptions and limiting Fields to 184 passing yards. As a result, Chicago only put three points on the board, despite the Bucs taking their foot off the gas in the second half.

The only downside from Tampa Bay's defensive performance was an uncharacteristic 143 rushing yards given up. The Bucs had the opportunity to cement their defense as one of five in NFL history to keep opponents under 60 rushing yards per game through seven games by holding Chicago to 91 yards or less but instead will come up seven yards per game short of the mark.

Is it far to say Tom Brady's historic performance was slightly underwhelming?

I'm prepared to be ostracized for suggesting that Tom Brady's four-touchdown, record-setting day at Raymond James Stadium was one of his worth performances of the season from an accuracy standpoint.

Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to reach the 600 touchdown mark with a first-quarter pass to Mike Evans. Brady also became the third quarterback in history to post 200 completions and 20 touchdowns across the first seven games of season, joining Peyton Manning (2013) and Andrew Luck (2018) according to Adam Schefter.

However, Brady only completed 55.6 percent of his passes on Sunday, his second-worst single-game mark of the career. AllBucs counted seven incompletions as a result of an inaccurate pass, four of which were targeting receivers in the end zone.

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Brady is playing miraculously, this takeaway isn't meant to diminish that fact and I'll admit it's nitpicky. To give him credit, Brady's best pass of the day was also one of his best this year, a perfectly-placed deep shot to Evans in the second quarter.

But Brady's performance against Chicago was far from his peak play so far this year, and it's scary to imagine how well Brady will play when the Bucs' offense is at full strength.

You guessed it: More secondary injuries

This is the fifth week in a row that we've included a Buccaneers' defensive injury in our takeaways, and the fourth week in that span that injuries occurred within the team's secondary. 

Week 7 starting cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Dee Delaney exited in the second half with various injuries and did not return. Dean momentarily left the game in the second quarter with a hand injury and was sidelined once again in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. Delaney went out in the third quarter with an ankle injury of his own.

Head coach Bruce Arians described Dean's shoulder injury as "fine" after the game but had no details to share regarding Delaney's ankle. The Buccaneers were without three cornerbacks on Sunday in Richard Sherman, Carlton Davis III and Sean Murphy-Bunting, and those players aren't expected to return before the team's bye week making Dean, Delaney and the rest of the cornerback room's health extremely important for Week 8.

Jaelon Darden explodes onto the scene with his opening punt return

Following Jaydon Mickens' release this past week, Jaelon Darden became the Buccaneers' de-facto starting returner on kicks and punts. The fourth-round draft pick returned two kicks for 24 yards on average and one punt for four yards against the Rams in Week 3 after Mickens suffered an injury.

In his first return as a starter, Darden quickly gained recognition with a 43-yard scamper to the Bears' 35-yard line. The Buccaneers capitalized with a Leonard Fournette rushing touchdown two plays later.

Darden's punt return is the longest of the season so far across the entire NFL, and is the longest punt return by a Buccaneer since Bernard Reedy's 44-yard gain during the 2017 season. Darden would earn a rush on an end-around later in the game, which he took for 11 yards and a first down in the second quarter.

Bucs clean up penalties tremendously

Tampa Bay committed just one penalty for 10 yards on Sunday, a third quarter holding call on guard Aaron Stinnie. Otherwise, the Buccaneers avoided getting flagged throughout the rest of the game.

It's only one showing and the Bucs will need to build upon the effort, but this is a tremendous step in the right direction for the team. The Buccaneers' lowest penalty tally of the season prior to Week 7 was six against Miami, while the lowest penalty yards given up (41) came against Los Angeles.

The Bucs are currently the eighth-most penalized team in the NFL, which could come back to bite them down the road in big games unless they cut down on flags. But Tampa Bay's performance against Chicago should inspire confidence that the team can get on track and become more disciplined.

Stay tuned to AllBucs for further coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and other NFL news and analysis. Follow along on social media at @SIBuccaneers on Twitter and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.