As Chicago Bears gamers tried to thaw out inside the house locker room after Saturday afternoon’s 35-13 loss to the Buffalo Bills, they tried to explain the intense situations that they had endured for the earlier three-plus hours.
The kickoff temperature at Soldier Field: 9 levels. With a windchill of minus-12.
“Freezing,” tight finish Cole Kmet mentioned. “That was the coldest game I’ve ever played in.”
The 26-mph winds with gusts as much as 35 mph made every little thing just a little harder too.
“It was crazy,” quarterback Justin Fields mentioned. “It really impacted the whole game. From snaps to even tosses. … (Those) were flying everywhere. The snaps were going everywhere. It definitely impacts the passing game and figuring out which way you want to throw the ball.”
Added receiver Dante Pettis: “Man, it was cold. And extremely windy. Even on the short routes, that ball would be moving and become a little difficult to track at times because of some of the bigger gusts. It was moving like a knuckleball at times.”
Frozen fingers. Fluttering footballs. And, for the Bears, extra irritating failures.
It was a brand new expertise and a troublesome take a look at of focus for a younger, injured and struggling staff. But maybe guard Michael Schofield supplied correct perspective after the Bears’ eighth consecutive loss.
“It’s football,” Schofield mentioned. “It was definitely cold. But you can’t blame that for impacting the game. The Bills were playing in the same (expletive).”
After all, the visiting Bills, a respectable Super Bowl contender, dealt with the intense climate in a profitable approach. Despite turning the ball over thrice, they outgained the Bears 426-209, averaged 8.2 yards per rush and turned a Christmas Eve get-together right into a laugher, punctuated with Josh Allen’s 13-yard landing cross to Dawson Knox on fourth-and-3 with 1 minute, 2 seconds remaining.
That despatched the Bears to their most lopsided loss all season with a necessity to higher perceive the explanations their offense short-circuited so badly past simply their obtrusive expertise and depth deficiencies.
Fields, for instance, solely ran for 11 yards on seven speeding makes an attempt, his worst single-game output in an in any other case dazzling season.
“The had their D-end play me more,” Fields mentioned. “When he does play outside and play out wide like that, I just carry out my fake, get him involved with me and hand the ball off to the running back.”
That didn’t work that nicely both. As a staff, the Bears managed simply 80 speeding yards — their second-lowest whole all season — on 29 makes an attempt.
Said Kmet: “They did a great job bringing pressure off the back side and kind of forcing us to go where they wanted us to. That’s a credit to them and the (defensive) front they have.”
After an opening-drive landing cross from Fields to Pettis supplied a 7-0 lead barely 5 minutes into the sport, the Bears didn’t go to the tip zone once more and managed solely seven first downs on their last 12 possessions, together with two on meaningless completions from backup quarterback Nathan Peterman within the last minute.
Fields additionally injured his proper foot on his last cross try when he was stepped on by linebacker Matt Milano late within the sport.
Perhaps most aggravating, although, was the offense’s incapability to capitalize on all of the items supplied by the protection. The Bears transformed three takeaways into solely three factors. And these got here after a Nick Morrow interception supplied possession contained in the crimson zone.
The ensuing collection: a four-play, 1-yard field-goal drive that ended with Cairo Santos’ 35-yard kick.
“That’s always frustrating,” Schofield mentioned. “When the defense gives you the ball that many times, we’ve got to get more points out of that, man. We have to find a way to finish better. And that’s been the story of our season, right?”
Added Kmet: “We have to hold up our end and be able to capitalize and get touchdowns in those scenarios.”
Furthermore, the Bears started one other first-half possession on the Bills 38 however squeezed just one first down and 19 yards out of it earlier than settling for a 37-yard Santos subject aim.
The full context of Saturday’s sport is, after all, notable given the attrition of the Bears roster.
Starting offensive linemen Cody Whitehair (knee) and Teven Jenkins (neck) had been inactive, leaving the Bears to make use of their eighth beginning mixture up entrance this season. Larry Borom began at left guard with Schofield on the fitting aspect.
Receivers Chase Claypool (knee) and Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion) had been additionally inactive Saturday, additional depleting an already restricted receiving corps.
The Bears the week additionally put defensive starters Jaylon Johnson (hand) and Jack Sanborn (ankle) on injured reserve, ending their seasons and forcing the protection to regroup. Of the 22 starters the Bears used on offense and protection Sunday, solely half had been additionally Week 1 starters.
That helps to clarify a number of the tackling deficiencies the Bears confirmed, significantly on a 33-yard Devin Singletary landing run within the third quarter and a 27-yard TD sprint by James Cook on the following collection.
But offensively, the Bears by no means had a counterpunch both.
Fields’ 44-yard completion to Velus Jones Jr. within the third quarter was the afternoon’s most explosive play, a part of a 119-yard passing efficiency that pushed the Bears quarterback previous 4,000 passing yards for his profession. But after the opening drive, the Bears ran 51 extra performs. And solely two went for greater than 10 yards whereas 35 had been stopped for 3 yards or fewer.
Frigid situations? For positive.
“But you have to block it out at a certain point,” Kmet mentioned. “For me, after the first quarter, you just become numb to it. Literally. It is what it is.”
What it was Saturday was one other path to a different defeat, dropping the last-place Bears to 3-12. And the tip consequence may need been simply as sobering and jarring because the chilly.