The Bears held a four-point halftime lead Sunday at Soldier Field, but were outscored 29-3 in the second half in a 35-13 loss to the Bills.
While the Bears offense started off strong – scoring a touchdown on the opening drive and holding a lead the entire first half – they managed just four first downs and 88 total yards in the final two quarters.
The Bears defense generated three takeaways Sunday as cornerback Kyler Gordon and linebacker Nicholas Morrow each intercepted Bills quarterback Josh Allen while linebacker Matt Adams forced a fumble which was recovered by safety Elijah Hicks. Sunday marks the first time since the 2018 season that the Bears forced at least three takeaways in consecutive games.
"I was pleased with the three takeaways," coach Matt Eberflus said. "We really were plus-2, I know we threw [an interception] at the very end there, but really good job of that. I just think we need to capitalize on those takeaways. I know we had three points on one of them, but we need to capitalize on those short fields and that's really complementary football. So I thought we needed to do a better job than that."
Quarterback Justin Fields completed 15 of 23 pass attempts for 119 yards and a touchdown while rushing for just 11 yards on seven carries. Eberflus told reporters after the game that Fields injured his foot late in the fourth quarter after it was stepped on. Running back David Montgomery led the ground game with 62 yards on 16 carries.
Allen connected on 15 of his 26 pass attempts for 172 yards and two touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. The Bills rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns as running back Devin Singletary led the way with 106 yards on 12 carries and a score.
"Owning the line of scrimmage, obviously we didn't do a good enough with that," Eberflus said. "They had the ability to run the ball and we did not run the ball as well as we wanted to. That to me was a deciding factor in the game at the end of the day."
With a ninth straight loss, the Bears fell to 3-12, while the Bills moved to 12-3 with the win.
The Bears grabbed a 7-0 lead to start Sunday's contest as Fields found receiver Dante Pettis wide open in the left corner of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown. The opening drive featured two explosive plays as Fields hit receiver Byron Pringle for a 20-yard gain to reach Buffalo territory. Montgomery followed it up with a 28-yard run, being tackled just one yard shy of the end zone. While a holding penalty on left guard Larry Borom set the Bears back 10 yards, Fields worked back to connect with Pettis on third-and-goal.
"It was two-high, the corner attached to what we call a skin route, so corner attached and the nickle didn't go out with Dante, so of course that left him wide open," Fields said. "Great play call by Luke, great protection up front and that's what kind of left him so wide open out there."
Allen fired back with a quick scoring drive, connecting with receiver Gabe Davis for a 19-yard touchdown, but the Bears still held a 7-6 lead as kicker Tyler Bass missed the extra point wide right. Allen opened the drive with a 24-yard pass to tight end Dawson Knox, then on third-and-6, scrambled for 10 yards to keep the drive alive. While the Bills were flagged for a holding penalty, resulting in first-and-20, running back James Cook carried the ball 24 yards to reach the Chicago 19, setting up the score.
While the Bears drove back down the field, reaching the Buffalo 33, they turned the ball over on downs as Fields' pass on fourth-and-3 was tipped by tackle Ed Oliver at the line of scrimmage. Montgomery recorded another big carry, rushing for 10 yards on third-and-2 before Fields completed an 8-yard pass to receiver Velus Jones Jr. on third-and-11, setting up the fourth-down try.
For the second game in a row, Gordon came up with a big time takeaway, intercepting Allen at the 1-yard line on a pass intended for receiver Isaiah McKenzie. Gordon returned it 33 yards giving the Bears offense the ball at its own 34 with 12:53 remaining in the first half. The Bills were moving downfield quickly once again, reaching the Chicago 19 before another offensive holding penalty pushed them back. Two plays later, Gordon grabbed his third pick of season. However, the Bears were unable to capitalize on the takeaway after Fields scrambled to recover a bad snap on third down, losing 14 yards.
The Bears extended their lead to 10-6 with 3:31 left in the first half as kicker Cairo Santos hit a 37-yard field goal. After the defense forced a three-and-out, Pettis had a 12-yard punt return to set the offense up at the Buffalo 38. Fields kept the drive alive on fourth-and-3 by connecting with Montgomery for a 6-yard completion. However, the drive stalled out after two carries by Fields and an incomplete pass on third-and-4.
With less than a minute until halftime, the Bills set up for a 38-yard field goal, but Bass missed wide right again, allowing the Bears to hold their 10-6 lead heading into the break. After the Bills reached the Chicago 20 with a 16-yard carry by Cook, Allen threw three straight incompletions to bring out the kicking unit.
Buffalo took its first lead of the game right out of halftime, going up 14-10 after Singletary rushed for a 33-yard touchdown. Allen then converted the two-point try with a completion to receiver Khalil Shakir in the back of the end zone. Receiver Stefon Diggs had his first reception of the day on the opening play of the drive, gaining 15 yards. Allen then completed passes of 10 and 9 yards to Singletary to reach Bears territory. After Allen scrambled 11 yards for a first down on third-and-1, Singletary broke free up the middle for the score.
The Bills capitalized on their first takeaway of the game, turning a Montgomery fumble into a touchdown drive, to go up 21-10 with 7:57 left in the third quarter. Cornerback Dane Jackson forced Montgomery's fumble at the Chicago 34, and tackle Tim Settle recovered the ball at the 35. Three plays into Buffalo's drive on third-and-3, Cook rushed 27 yards up the middle for the score.
Adams came up with the Bears' second takeaway, punching the ball out of Davis' hands at the Chicago 33, then Hicks recovered the fumble at the same spot. The Bears offense quickly go into Buffalo territory as Fields connected with Jones for a 44-yard completion down the right sideline. On fourth-and-3, Fields hit tight end Ryan Griffin, who looked to stretch and reach the first down marker. However, upon further review, Griffin's knee hit the ground before extending the ball past the marker, and the Bears turned it over on downs with under 13 minutes left in the game.
"That's a training camp play," Fields said of his completion to Jones. "Velus, he's fast and I'm glad he finally got to use his speed. So of course, just saw that safety attach and the corner try to fall off, so just kind of put it outside and he did a great job going to get that ball. So of course, that was a great catch."
Two plays into the Bills' ensuing drive, Morrow generated a third takeaway, intercepting a fluttering Allen pass in the middle of the field, returning it from the Buffalo 24 to the 18. After the offense gained a total of one yard through three plays, Santos made a 35-yard field goal to cut the Bears' deficit to 21-13 with 10:19 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bills extended their lead to 28-13 with a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Allen. Singletary recorded a 26-yard run to reach the Chicago 22 then on third-and-8, Allen completed a 9-yard pass to running back Nyheim Hines. Three plays later on third-and-3, Allen rolled out on a play-action fake and beat Bears defenders to the right corner of the end zone for the score.
Buffalo tacked on one more score with just over a minute to play as Allen completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Knox, bringing the Bills lead to 35-13.
Check out the on-field action as the Bears battle the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field on Christmas Eve.