Game turned on Josh McCown’s mistakes
McHere we go again. When you’ve played for six teams in 12 seasons, you’re all over the map. There are always reunions. Josh McCown was in Chicago on Sunday to face his last team, a homecoming which meant pregame hugs and chats back in a place where just last season McCown threw 13 touchdowns and just one interception while subbing for injured Jay Cutler and being, as always, one of football’s nicest people.

Nice don’t pay the bills. You’re never home free when you’re Josh McCown. You can be all over the map at any second. Even in the middle of a 300-yard passing game, you can go back to being the guy who frightened Bucs fans the first two weeks and who has started much more than he has played in his career. We should know that by now, but there were two moments, within about 20 seconds of game clock, that reminded us in a 21-13 Bucs loss to the incredibly beatable Bears.

Armed with a 10-0 halftime lead, the Bucs handed this game to Chicago. McCown’s fingerprints were again prominent — two turnovers in the third quarter to completely change the game. We thought he was done with that sort of thing. Well, not really. What do we expect, really?

There was McCown’s fumble as he scrambled, but was sacked and stripped. Chicago ball at the Bucs 13-yard line. The Bears took a 14-10 lead on the next play. On the next Bucs’ offensive snap, after the kickoff, McCown threw too high, off the rain-slickened gloves of rookie Charles Sims. Interception. Bears ball at the Bucs 15-yard line. Touchdown three plays later — 21-10. “Those two right there, back to back, hurt us,” McCown said.

We’ve been all over the road these last three weeks with McCown. There were his tears after he played fairly well, but the Bucs lost to Atlanta. There were cheers after McCown played very well while playing catch with Mike Evans in the win at Washington, a clean sheet for McCown, no turnovers. Then there was Sunday. We were back to his first two games this season, very rough stuff. “The one I’m most disappointed in is the fumble on the scramble,” McCown said. “You’ve just got to throw the ball away. I was trying to make something happen.”

Suddenly, if we’re not back to wondering whether McCown will be the second Bucs quarterback to announce his benching on his radio show (not a chance), we’re at least back to sizing up draftable college quarterbacks, first round, any round.

It was almost as if this homecoming, like McCown’s first two games as The Man in Tampa, was too big for him to handle. Yes, he threw for 341 yards, with 173 by halftime, and he made a nice touchdown throw to Evans when he looked the safety away. But there were a lot of poor McCown throws, and not all them were because the ball was wet. There were so many times when he looked unsettled, even without Chicago pressure, though there was plenty of that.

He looked bad is how he looked — 25-for-48 for a 64.7 passer rating. And those three turnovers, though he was smashed as he let go of a ball that was picked in the first half, and the ball to Sims was wet, but, really, who are we kidding? This game turned on McCown mistakes. I mean, Jay Cutler threw for only 130 yards and he was the winning quarterback.

This Bucs offense is back to its losing ways. And no matter who runs the ball, the Bucs can’t get it done, no, not even when they have two plays to go all of 36 inches to prolong a possible game-tying drive. McCown came up short on a fourth-and-1 sneak. He came up short a lot Sunday. You’re never home free with Josh McCown.