Buccaneers cough up chance at .500 season

TAMPA, Fla. -- The previous two games, both losses for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it would not be a reach to blame defensive breakdowns as the culprit. Against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Buccaneers' offense let the team down.

Tampa Bay turned the ball over three times, including once in the red zone, and lost 26-21 in its final home game of the season. Running back Doug Martin lost two fumbles, including one on a pass reception. Quarterback Jameis Winston made an ill-advised pass to avoid a sack and ended up throwing an interception.

The Bucs couldn't get Martin going. He entered the game as the league's second-leading rusher, but he gained 49 yards on 17 carries, an average of 2.9 yards per attempt. His longest run was 9 yards.

What it means: The Bucs (6-9) will finish with a sub-.500 record for the fifth consecutive year. The Buccaneers will go into the final game of the season at Carolina trying to avoid a four-game losing streak to end the season.

What were they thinking? Leading 14-13 in the third quarter, Tampa Bay faced a third-and-11 from the Chicago 12-yard line. The Bears had a player come free on a blitz, and Winston back peddled and tried to get the ball to running back Charles Sims. Winston didn't have enough on the throw and the pass was intercepted by Harold Jones-Quartey to end the threat. Winston has to either take the sack or get rid of the ball. Instead, he cost the team at least three points.

One reason to get excited: Sims' concentration on his 50-yard touchdown catch was wide-receiver-like. He leads the team with four touchdown catches this year and should be even better in 2016.

One reason to panic: Mike Evans was the only wide receiver to catch a pass in the first half. Tampa Bay's passing game has struggled since Vincent Jackson suffered a knee injury. No other wide receiver is stepping up.

Fantasy watch: Martin entered the game 9 yards behind Adrian Peterson and facing the 26th-ranked rushing defense. But Martin struggled. He fumbled once on a run, fumbled on a screen and nearly lost another fumble.