BILLS-BEARS QUARTERLY REPORT
Theme: A defensive stalemate.
Key mistake: At the end of a Bears punt return with 56 seconds left in the quarter, Bills tight end Logan Thomas made a hit two steps out of bounds on Tarik Cohen to draw a 15-yard dead ball foul. It set up the Bears at the Buffalo 37 and led to the first TD of the game.
Matchup Watch: The Bills used middle linebacker Julian Stanford, subbing for injured Tremaine Edmunds, as a spy on Bears QB Mitch Trubisky numerous times early in the game.
Lineup keys: With Khalil Mack out, the Bears started fifth-year Aaron Lynch at outside linebacker. Joshua Bellamy replaced starting receiver Allen Robinson. Rookie James Daniels started at left guard in place of veteran Kyle Long.
CB sides: The Bills didn’t match up Tre’Davious White on a wideout. White stayed at the left corner spot.
Spread Watch: The last time the Bears were a road favorite of 10 points or more was a 2006 game at Arizona.
Rare appearance: It was the Bears’ first game in Orchard Park since 2002. A Bears road game vs. the Bills in 2010 was played in Toronto.
Theme: Nightmare on Peterman Street.
Bills meltdown: Buffalo entered the game with 18 giveaways, tied for second most in the NFL. Turnovers on three straight possessions blew the game open, as the Bears’ defense scored two TDs to take a 28-0 halftime lead.
O-line shuffle: It seemed like an odd time to do it, but even before the game became a blowout the Bills shuffled their offensive line for a handful of snaps in the second quarter. Rookie Wyatt Teller subbed for left guard Vlad Ducasse a couple snaps. Jeremiah Sirles subbed for right tackle Jordan Mills a couple plays. Those two young guys cycled in in the second half too.
Zebra Report: Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins had a rough quarter. He was flagged for a leg whip for 15 yards and a holding penalty. The leg whip came with the score 21-0 and put the Bills in a first-and-22 hole at their own 13. . . . Bears left tackle Charles Leno was flagged for three false-start penalties in the first half.
Second guess: Peterman did not look confident in his reads. He was double-clutching on a bunch of throws.
Theme: It was amazing that a majority of the crowd of 68,749 stayed past halftime.
What else could go wrong? Colton Schmidt shanked a punt 18 yards off to the right sideline to set up Chicago at the Bills’ 46 with 6:54 left in the quarter. It didn’t cost the Bills points.
Matchup Watch: Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was a force in the middle, even though he finished with only three tackles. The 6-foot-5, 332-pound Hicks lined up across from guard John Miller a lot. Hicks arguably is the third best interior defensive lineman in the NFL, behind only the Rams’ Aaron Donald and the Eagles’ Fletcher Cox. In the first quarter alone, Hicks had a stuff of LeSean McCoy for no gain and a 2-yard tackle for loss on McCoy. In the second half he caused a sack by pushing Russell Bodine back into the QB.
Getting creative: The Bears used safety Eddie Jackson as a running back on a play in the red zone in the third quarter. He was a decoy.
No. 1 for No. 27: An overthrow by Mitch Trubisky allowed Tre White to get his first interception of the season.
Theme: Bills discover uncharted territory.
Bad streak avoided: The only time in franchise history the Bills went three straight games without a touchdown was the middle of the 2003 season in losses at Kansas City, at Dallas and home against Houston. Nathan Peterman’s 1-yard TD run with 5:41 left prevented a three-game streak without a TD.
Bears D succumbs: The Bears hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown all year. Their streak stretched 206 rushing attempts dating to last season until Peterman scored. It wasn’t easy. The Bills ran four goal-to-go plays before the QB scored.
Bears aid TD drive: The Bills’ 75-yard TD drive came with help. An unsportsmanlike penalty negated a third-down Bears sack. A facemask foul bailed the Bills out of a second-and-30 hole.
Zebra Report: Bills cornerback Phillip Gaines was flagged for a 43-yard pass interference penalty, which set up the Bears’ last touchdown. Gaines had good coverage down the sideline on Anthony Miller and turned his head on time. But he used his left arm to grab the jersey of Miller. He had the play covered without the grab.