ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — 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 unimaginable.
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 laughable collection of players on a sorry team in a terrible season. But they have become so pathetic that picking on them seems cruel, like picking on a child even though they’re adult men collecting massive paychecks.
But here’s one question worth asking: Can the season reach a point in which general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott get fired? It seems unlikely, but both are pushing the limits of their fan base and could be testing ownership.
A step back was expected this season.
What happened this season was not.
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 six-and-a-half 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-yard line during garbage time.
Jordan Howard scored two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter to help the Bears build a big lead. Chicago did everything Buffalo needed to accomplish in order to win.
The Bears shut down the running game, 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.
It has come to be expected.
The Buffalo offense had four turnovers. The offensive line again was terrible, and their running game virtually nonexistent. Their special teams were poor. The game Sunday looked much like a preseason finale, like many others during the regular season.
Chicago, which was without three starters including Khalil Mack, didn’t play its best game of the season 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.
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 halfway 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 Terrelle Pryor had a perfect pass bounce off his chest and into the arms of Adrian Amos Jr., for an easy pick.
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.