Right when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, long after the Buffalo Bills’ offense appeared to bottom out and the Nathan Peterman jokes grew stale, they insisted upon sinking to depths that once seemed unthinkable.
The Bills’ demise continued Sunday when the Bears scored 28 straight points in the second quarter in a 41-9 victory in New Era Field, the scene of the latest massacre in this long and forgettable season. The good news for the Bills is they have one more game before the bye week.
It has reached a point in which the Bills have become folly, a source of amusement with a laughable collection of players on a sorry team. But they have become so pathetic that insulting them almost seems cruel, like picking on a child, even though they’re adult men making millions of dollars.
But here’s one question worth asking: Is there a point of no return for General Manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott? Either getting fired seems unlikely, but both are pushing the limits of their fan base and could be testing ownership.
A step back was expected this season.
This colossal mess was not, and it has nothing to do with rookie Josh Allen missing the past two games.
Buffalo has been outscored, 141-9, in the first halves of their seven losses this season after Chicago rolled into town and rolled over the Bills with four touchdowns in the second quarter. The Bills’ have been so atrocious that they would have lost two straight if their defense pitched shutouts.
You want a losing combination?
Buffalo’s opponents have scored four defensive touchdowns in the past four weeks, including a fumble and an interception that Chicago returned for scores Sunday. The Bills’ offense has produced only three touchdowns over the past 6½ games.
Peterman threw three more interceptions Sunday, and he still had the best game of his career. He completed 31 of 49 passes for 189 yards and had another pick-six, but he scored the Bills’ first touchdown in 39 consecutive possessions when he slipped into the end zone from the 1 during garbage time.
Right about now seems an appropriate time that Patrick Mahomes, selected with the pick Buffalo traded to Kansas City in 2017, threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-21 win over the Browns. Mahomes has 29 TD passes this season, the Bills three.
But who's counting?
Buffalo actually outgained Chicago on offense, 264-190, and lost by 32 points. Now that's an accomplishment.
Rejoice, Bills fans.
Jordan Howard scored two touchdowns rushing in the second quarter to help the Bears build the big lead. Chicago did everything Buffalo needed to accomplish in order to win. The Bears shut down the running game when it mattered, scored two defensive touchdowns, won the turnover battle and had solid but not spectacular play from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Trubisky completed 12 of 20 passes for 135 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Statistically, it was his worst game all season. Realistically, the win couldn’t have been much easier.
The outcome Sunday has come to be expected in Buffalo.
The Buffalo offense had had four turnovers. The offensive line again was terrible, their running game virtually non-existent. Their special teams were poor. The game Sunday looked much like a preseason finale, like many other losses they've had while falling to 2-7 this season.
Chicago, which was without three starters including Khalil Mack, didn’t play its best game of the year by any definition. The Bears blew out a Tampa Bay team earlier this season that had one of the best offenses in the league. They did what teams often do against Buffalo. They bullied the Bills against little resistance.
For Peterman, getting through an entire game passed for an accomplishment. He threw 10 interceptions on his first 84 attempts, including the playoffs, and had never played a full game. He was pulled from his first NFL start last season, was concussed in his second start and was removed hallway through the season opener.
Peterman had never thrown for more than 79 yards in a game. He threw five interceptions in the first half last year against the Chargers. Bills fans didn’t think it could get much worse before he checked into a tight game against the Texans and ended up throwing a decisive pick-six.
Bills tight end Jason Croom committed the first major gaffe when he coughed up the ball after a short reception. Safety Eddie Jackson returned the fumble 66 yards to give the Bears a 14-0 lead. Less than four minutes later, Peterman’s pass bounced off Zay Jones and fell into the arms of linebacker Leonard Floyd for an easy touchdown.
Peterman was charged with another interception that was hardly his doing when Terrell Pryor, who showed up in Buffalo saying, "I'm a baller, bro," had a perfect pass bounce off his chest and into the arms of Adrian Amos Jr., for an easy pick. Amos suffered the indignity that came with not scoring on the Buffalo offense.
Expectations were indeed low for the Bills, who were 10-point underdogs going into the game. Buffalo’s sixth-rated defense was the only reason it stood a chance Sunday until, well, the second quarter.