Bears

Why the Bears’ blowout win over Buffalo could be a sign of good things to come

Bears

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Maybe the only time the Bears weren’t in control of their 41-9 thwacking of the Buffalo Bills was when Aaron Lynch thrusted his hips too many times after a sack. Or too slowly. 
 
“I’ll probably get the same amount in in a shorter time period,” Lynch said, cracking up himself and a group of reporters assembled around his locker. “So I’ll probably go a little faster this week.”
 
That penalty allowed the Bills to score their only touchdown of the game, which came when Nathan Peterman plunged a couple feet into the end zone for the first rushing score allowed by the Bears in 2018. But other than that, the Bears’ defense shut down a Bills team that, while severely sub-optimal, did manage to beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road and gave the Green Bay Packers’ offense some problems this year, too. 
 
On a more serious note, Lynch made a persuasive point about why the Bears shouldn’t take for granted what they did against Peterman and the Bills’ offense on Sunday. 
 
“Nick Mullens, San Fran, stepped up, balled out,” Lynch, a former San Francisco 49er, said. “Peterman could’ve done the same thing. But we stepped up as a defense as a whole, as a whole team and came out here and played a good game.”
 
The Bears (5-3) controlled their meeting with the Bills (2-7) game from start to finish, even if the final stats didn’t necessarily bear that out on the surface. The Bills out-gained the Bears, 264 to 190, while running 81 plays (to the Bears’ 46) and possessing the ball for 34 minutes and three seconds (to the Bears’ 25:57). The Bears became the first team in 2018 to win a game in which their offense totaled fewer than 200 yards — something no team in the last 15 years has done more than the Bears (seven times). 
 
And yet, there never felt like the Bills had a legitimate chance of even being competitive with the Bears, let alone winning on a picturesque fall Sunday in western New York. There’s something to be said for that.
 
“All three phases played really well, so you can keep building on what you’re doing well and fortunately there’s a lot of things that we’re doing well right now,” tight end Trey Burton said. “So we gotta keep building on it.”
 
Burton would know — while with the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2017, he saw what kind of an impact controlling games start-to-finish can have on a team. And even then, the Eagles’ largest margin of victory last year in the regular season was 28 points. The Bears have won games, now, by 38 (against Tampa Bay) and 32 (against Buffalo) points. 
 
That’s not saying the Bears are a better team than last year’s Eagles, of course, but it is pointing out how difficult it is to win by such wide margins in the NFL.
 
“We’re staying hungry, we’re not getting complacent, we want to keep being the best defense, we want to keep being a better team,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “Each week we want to keep putting the most into it and getting the most out of it. That’s the difference between our team now. We work hard, but we know what our goal is, and we push one another. And that way our team keeps getting better.”
 
There’s something to be said for winning multiple games in a season by 30 or more points, too. The 2018 Bears are the 28th team to do so in the last 10 years, and of those teams, 21 made the playoffs, and only one of those teams finished under .500 (which was the 2014 Carolina Panthers, which made the postseason with a 7-8-1 record). 
 
So looking at the Bears’ blowout win over the Bills from the lens of the Peterman-led Bills being a bad team is too narrow of a viewpoint. The Bears are a good team, and good teams don’t always do to bad teams what the Bears did to the Bills on Sunday. 
 
The Bears’ 2018 outlook will come into focus between now and Thanksgiving, but they’ll head into that critical three-game stretch against the NFC North buoyed by comfortable-to-dominant wins over the New York Jets and Bills. 
 
“The positive moments — us getting up big, early, so as long as we just came together and kept our foot on the gas,” wide receiver Taylor Gabriel said, “I feel like we can build on that.”