The sprinkling of Chicago Bears fans who still were standing in the subzero windchill at Soldier Field as the clock ticked down Saturday weren’t gifted with a victory.
The Bears defense had three takeaways but also gave up 254 rushing yards, including three touchdowns on the ground in the second half, in the Bills’ 35-13 victory. It was the Bears’ eighth straight loss.
Bears quarterback Justin Fields completed 15 of 23 passes for 119 yards. A week after hitting 1,000 rushing yards for the season, he had seven carries for just 11 yards. The Bears scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the game but managed only two Cairo Santos field goals after that.
The Bills emerged from a 10-6 halftime deficit and scored two touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the third quarter.
Devin Singletary broke for a 33-yard touchdown run, and quarterback Josh Allen hit Khalil Shakir for a two-point conversion pass on the first. James Cook powered to the end zone on a 27-yard touchdown run for a 21-10 lead.
In between those two drives, Bills cornerback Dane Jackson forced running back David Montgomery to fumble, and defensive tackle Tim Settle recovered it at the Bears 35-yard line.
The Bears built some momentum when linebacker Matt Adams forced Gabe Davis to fumble and rookie safety Elijah Hicks recovered it at the Bears 33-yard line.
On the next play, Fields hit Velus Jones Jr. with a 44-yard pass to the Bills 20. But the drive stalled when Fields’ fourth-and-3 pass to Ryan Griffin went for only 2 yards.
Bears linebacker Nicholas Morrow got the ball back for the Bears when he intercepted Allen two plays later. But the Bears settled for Santos’ 35-yard field goal.
Allen had a 4-yard touchdown run and added a 13-yard touchdown pass to Dawson Knox late in the fourth quarter.
Read more coverage from Soldier Field.
- Brrrrr down: A look at the coldest Bears games at Soldier Field
- Warming areas and medical teams on stand by during deep freeze at Bears game
Here’s how Week 16 unfolded.
As expected, the Bears will be without four key starters as receiver Chase Claypool (knee), receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion), left guard Cody Whitehair (knee) and right guard Teven Jenkins (neck) have all been declared inactive. The Bears’ other inactive players are tight end Trevon Wesco, defensive lineman Angelo Blackson and quarterback Tim Boyle.
On Friday, the team also placed cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson (finger) and Kindle Vildor (ankle) on injured reserve.
With Whitehair and Jenkins out, Larry Borom and Michael Schofield are expected to start on the offensive line. This will be the eighth different starting offensive line combination the Bears have used in 15 games this season.
About the weather …
The Bears are 6-4 in the 10 coldest games at Soldier Field since they moved there in 1971. Saturday’s game against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills could crack that frigid list.
The point spread — the Bills are favored by 9½ — figures to be higher than the temperature on the lakefront, which is forecast to be 8 degrees at kickoff with a windchill of minus-14. While the snow is expected to be out of the area well before game time, the extreme cold will test even die-hard fans’ bravado.
Many, such as the McGuire family of Northfield, plan to attend the game regardless of the conditions. Stephanie, her husband, Dan, and their children, Charlotte and Dylan, decided to start a new family tradition after Dylan gifted the family tickets to Saturday’s game.
“Football is a religion in the McGuire house, and what better way to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus than at Soldier Field competing against a great football team like the Buffalo Bills?” Charlotte said.
Halftime: Bears 10, Bills 6
The Bills outgained the Chicago 183 total yards to 121 in the first half, but the Bears went into halftime with a 10-6 lead.
The Bills had trouble converting on their scoring chances. Kyler Gordon picked off Bills quarterback Josh Allen for Gordon’s second interception in two games, and Bills kicker Tyler Bass missed an extra-point attempt and a field-goal attempt.
Bears quarterback Justin Fields completed 8 of 12 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown in the half. He ran for just 7 yards on five carries. Running back David Montgomery had nine carries for 60 yards.
Fields’ 6-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis on the opening drive gave the Bears a 7-0 lead against the Bills. Fields had a 20-yard pass to Byron Pringle, and Montgomery added a 28-yard run on the 64-yard drive.
The Bills responded by driving 71 yards in 3:19, with Josh Allen hitting Gabe Davis for a 19-yard touchdown pass. Allen ran for 10 yards on a third-and-6 on the drive. Bass missed the extra point wide right, and the Bears maintained a lead, 7-6.
On the Bills’ next drive, Gordon intercepted Allen at the 1-yard line and returned it 33 yards. It was his third pick of the year.
The Bears didn’t get beyond their own territory on the ensuing drive, but Trenton Gills’ 68-yard punt pinned the Bills at the 2. Jaquan Brisker sacked Allen on third down at the Bills’ 4, and Pettis’ 12-yard punt return got the Bears to the Bills’ 38.
The drive ended when Bears kicker Cairo Santos made a 37-yard field goal for a 10-6 lead.
Bass missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt wide right in the final minute of the second quarter, and the Bears went into the half up 10-6.
‘That was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen’
In a 3-11 Bears season, seeing what Justin Fields is going to do next is part of an oddly positive vibe surrounding the Bears.
Yes, there are many arguments about where Fields is at in the passing game. There are questions about how he can do more to help the Bears deliver in the clutch in the midst of a seven-game losing streak.
But as Fields has ripped off 15 runs of 15 yards or more — including touchdowns of 55, 61 and 67 yards — one thing is not up for debate: He has delivered a kind of electric performance on the ground rarely seen among NFL quarterbacks.
“He’s made some incredible plays,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said. “And I think I’ve gone to (coach Matt Eberflus) every single time and I’m like, ‘That was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.’ To be able to say that multiple times is pretty cool.”