The Bears defense was performing at a dominant level heading into last Sunday's game in Miami, ranking second in the NFL in total yards and sacks.
But after permitting 541 yards and not recording a sack in a 31-28 overtime loss to the Dolphins, the unit is determined to revert to its previous form Sunday when the Bears host the Patriots.
"It makes you want to fight harder because you just went out there and showed everybody that we played soft," said outside linebacker Aaron Lynch. "We're not a soft defense; far from it. When you go out there and show those types of things, you want to go out there and counter it and make everybody see that you're not that. That's what we're going to prove this week."
It won't be easy against a Patriots team that has scored 38, 38 and 43 points in winning its last three games. New England's offense, of course, is led by Tom Brady, a five-time Super Bowl winner and three-time NFL MVP who is still performing at an elite level at the age of 41.
The Bears respect the future Hall of Famer as much as any player in the league, but they also know he's human.
"You've got to give him his respect; he's Tom Brady," Lynch said. "But he's a man just like everybody else. He's had down games, he's had great games. He's going to be one of the greatest to go down in the league history, but I don't think any of us are worried about or changing anything differently because of who we're going against."
With that being said, facing Brady presents a monumental challenge.
"He's one of the greats," said inside linebacker Danny Trevathan. "You've just got to be on your Ps and Qs. You can't give him little things. And you've got to lock into your man, lock him down and you can't let him get the advantage and come in here and throw the ball around. You've got to make him uncomfortable."
"It's definitely a big challenge going up against an elite quarterback like that that's been in the league a long time," said outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. "You've just got to go out and execute at a high level because you already know he's going to execute so you've got to do the same. As a football player, you always want to play against the best players at a position. It definitely adds fuel to the fire going against Tom Brady."
After registering 4, 6, 4 and 4 sacks in their first four games, the Bears were blanked in that category last Sunday in Miami. They generated only four hits on quarterback Brock Osweiler, who passed for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns.
If their pass rush remains dormant against Brady, Sunday's game could get ugly for the Bears.
"If you don't get in his face, it's going to be a long game," Floyd said. "You've got to get some kind of disruption so he can make bad throws and errors that he doesn't normally make."
"If you don't fix [the pass rush] against a guy like Brady, he just tears you apart," Lynch said. "We're going to fix it. We didn't have a good pass rush against the Miami Dolphins, but we've got to bring in this week, so we're going to bring it this week."
The Dolphins stymied the Bears pass rush in part by having Osweiler get rid of the ball quickly via screens and other short passes. The Patriots typically do the same thing with Brady.
"That's why they're averaging 40 points a game the last three weeks," said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "They're good at it. They've got good players and the quarterback operates it at a very high level. You've got to be able to play your stuff. Guys have got to be able to win. We'll have guys on those guys, people that are supposed to be there, and we've got to make the plays."
In addition to rediscovering their pass rush, the Bears are equally determined to improve the shoddy tackling they displayed last Sunday against the Dolphins, most notably on receiver Albert Wilson's 43- and 75-yard touchdown receptions in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, it wasn't good enough," Fangio said. "It wasn't who we've been here in the past, even throughout this stay. It was disappointing and something that's got to be corrected."
The Bears hit the practice field Thursday in preparation for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots at Soldier Field.