ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Sometimes pregame perceptions of a contest don't play out as expected.
That's the National Football League - there are injuries or other circumstances that cause narratives to change. Certainly, Bears fans have seen that over the years, but there was hope this could be a dominating day for their defense.
Even without Khalil Mack, who was officially ruled out an hour before the game, the Bears appeared to have a tremendous advantage over the Bills. Struggling quarterback Nathan Peterman was pressed into duty for two other injured signal callers. He'd lead an offense that failed to score a touchdown the week before in a loss to the Patriots.
Surely the Bears' defense - which is near the top of the NFL in takeaways - should enjoy a rather successful day at New Era Field? That was the hope, and indeed it came to fruition on a sunny day in more respects than one.
The Bears forced four turnovers, returning a pair for scores, turning a scoreless game into a blowout in the second quarter, then cruising to a 41-9 victory over the Bills in Orchard Park on Sunday afternoon. Matt Nagy's team improves to 5-3 on the season as their winning streak reaches two before a critical stretch of three-straight games against NFC North opponents.
It was the offense that got the Bears on the board early in the second thanks significantly to their quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. After two third-down conversion passes in the third quarter, Trubisky completed his third to Trey Burton for 26 yards and a first down into Buffalo territory. The quarterback's run to the one-yard line a few plays later set up a short touchdown run for Jordan Howard to make it 7-0.
Eddie Jackson would start the Bears' big defensive later in the second when he locked himself around Jason Croom for a tackle. When Roquan Smith hit the tight end, the ball popped out, and Jackson returned it for a 65-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
Turnovers continued to pile up in the quarter as Adrian Amos got an interception of his own on a tipped ball on the next Bills' possession. Leonard Floyd would turn the team's next pick into points as he caught Peterman's deflected pass and returned it 19 yards for his second-career touchdown to make it 21-0.
Special teams and the offense got the team another score by the end of the half. Tarik Cohen officially ran a punt back 36 yards after another defensive three-and-out, but he needed more than that to dodge defenders to get to the Buffalo 23-yard line. Howard's 18-yard scoring run two plays later - which included running over a defender inside the five-yard line - put the Bears up 28-0 at the break.
About the only disappointment for the day for the Bears came in the fourth quarter, after each team had collected just field goals up till that point with the game in hand. Three major penalties by the visitors allowed Peterman to get the Bills into the endzone for the first time in the fourth quarter on a one-yard sneak. It was the first Buffalo touchdown in 39 possessions and was the first rushing touchdown allowed by the Bears all season.
But Trubisky got it back in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, tossing his first and only touchdown of the day to Trey Burton. It completed a day that many people expected, and an ever-growing Bears team delivered in style.