Bears risers and fallers in Christmas Eve loss to Bills

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Once again the Bears contended with a Super Bowl contender for four quarters, and once again the Bears fell short at the finish. The team is now on an eight-game losing streak, but more importantly they saw encouraging performances from players who figure to be a part of their future moving forward. Saturday’s game was another example that Matt Eberflus’ H.I.T.S. philosophy isn’t falling on deaf ears, and that the team is headed in the right direction, culturally.

RISERS

KYLER GORDON

Coming off of the best performance of his young career, Kyler Gordon was presented with a new challenge. With Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor both hurt, Gordon had to operate as the team’s No. 1 cornerback. He rose to the occasion and was a major reason why the Bears did well to limit the Bills’ high-flying passing attack. Stefon Diggs, the No. 3 receiver in the NFL entering the game, wasn’t targeted until the third quarter. He finished the game with only two catches for 26 yards. No Bills receiver hit 50 yards. The cherry on top was Gordon’s interception on the Bears’ one-yard line. He took advantage of a rare poor throw from Josh Allen, made a good leaping catch and added a good return to set the offense up on their 34-yard line instead of backed up against their own endzone.

DAVID MONTGOMERY

Montgomery returned to being the bellcow back for the Bears when Khalil Herbert recuperated on IR. On Saturday, Herbert returned to the lineup however, and expectations were that the nearly even timeshare between the two backs would return, too. Instead Montgomery remained not only the focal point of the rushing attack, but the offense as a whole. He out-touched Herbert 20-8 and finished the day with 62 rushing yards and 22 receiving yards. Montgomery should’ve had a touchdown, too, but a Larry Borom holding penalty on the one-yard line wiped it away. Montgomery had one minus with his third-quarter fumble.

VELUS JONES JR.

It’s felt like Jones Jr. has made more negative plays than positive plays this season due to his ball security issues. He finally took a step in the right direction against the Bills. Jones Jr. started his day with two great kickoff returns: one for 29 yards and another for 40 yards. He also caught two passes for 52 yards, including one great sliding catch on a 44-yard bomb from Justin Fields. That was legit progress for the rookie considering most of his catches have come behind the line of scrimmage this season.

FALLERS

THE RUN DEFENSE

Early in the game it became clear that throwing the ball around a breezy Soldier Field was going to be tough. So the Bills moved to a more run-heavy approach in the second half and easily put the game away from there. The defensive line was unable to get any penetration in the backfield, and the linebackers behind them couldn’t catch either Devin Singletary or James Cook at the second level. When it was all said and done, Cook averaged 9.0 YPC and Singletary averaged 8.8 YPC. Each man went practically untouched for 25+ yard touchdowns, too.

LUKE GETSY

Things went ok in the first half, when the Bears took a 10-6 lead into halftime, largely riding David Montgomery and the rushing attack. In the second half however, the Bills dominated the Bears in the trenches and completely stuffed the running game. Instead of changing things up, Getsy continued to run the ball into the Buffalo brick wall, and the offense completely stalled. To give you an idea, here were the Bears plays following Velus Jones Jr.’s 44-yard catch to end the third quarter: Herbert for three yards, Montgomery for five yards, Montgomery for -1 yard, Fields pass to Ryan Griffin for two yards (turnover on downs), Fields swing pass to Herbert for -2 yards, Montgomery for no gain, Fields scramble for three yards (Cairo Santos FG), Montgomery for four yards, Herbert for -2 yards (penalty for too many men), Fields scramble for one yard. Fields didn’t attempt a pass longer than five yards until there was only 3:30 left in the game. Bad look in what was a close game.

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