Bills use ground game to clinch AFC East in dominant win over Bears

TECHNOLOGY

Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills entered the season with rising expectations and the goal of a strong playoff run.

They earned a grand prize by clinching their third consecutive division title. It’s just the next step on what they hope will be a path towards their ultimate goal.

Devin Singletary and James Cook both ran for long touchdowns in the third quarter, and the Bills clinched the AFC East title by beating the Bears 35-13 on Saturday in one of the coldest games played in Chicago.

Allen ran for a TD and threw for another in the game’s final minutes after tying Hall of Famer Dan Marino for most touchdowns in the NFL’s first five seasons. His three TDs in the game highlighted a sub-par outing, but the Bills (12–3) clinched their third straight division title with their sixth consecutive victory.

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Devin Singletary #26 of the Buffalo Bills rushes for a touchdown during the third quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.

Devin Singletary #26 of the Buffalo Bills rushes for a touchdown during the third quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

“It’s the next progression in our goal – playoffs, division title and we know what’s next,” Allen said.

Buffalo remained on track for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Bills and West leaders Kansas City, who beat Seattle, have identical records, but Buffalo owns the tiebreaker after defeating the Chiefs in October.

“The standard has always been playoff caliber, once you define a playoff berth, then it’s championship caliber,” said defensive tackle Ed Oliver. “And championship caliber is winning your division, winning our side, and obviously playing that game (Super Bowl) and winning that game. I feel like there are bigger things out there.”

Chicago’s Justin Fields threw for 119 yards and a touchdown. He was held to a season-high 11 yards as the Bills contained him and kept him in their pocket after joining Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson as the only QBs with 1,000 rushing yards last week.

“The reality is, I’m not going to rush 100 yards a game,” Fields said. “When a defense does a good job of pushing my legs away, take a defender with me, maybe take two with me and allow the (running backs) legs to work.”

Devin Singletary #26 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after a touchdown during the third quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.

Devin Singletary #26 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates after a touchdown during the third quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

SEAHAWKS HOLDS THREE POINTS IN THE FIRST HALF AFTER WARM UP WITHOUT SHIRT IN COOL WIND BELOW ZERO

TO ACCOMPANY

The temperature at kickoff was 9 degrees with a wind chill of 12 below zero – just three degrees warmer than the record low for a Bears home game. It was Buffalo’s coldest road game by temperature since at least 1967.

A small group of fans watched as the Bears (3-12) matched a franchise record with their eighth straight loss.

RUNNING AWAY

Singletary rushed for 106 yards and became the first Bills player this season to reach triple figures in a game. He scored on a 33-yard run on the opening drive of the second half to put Buffalo on top, a 2-point conversion pass from Allen to Khalil Shakir making it 14-10.

Cook added a career-high 99 yards, including a 27-yarder in the third after a fumble by the Bears’ David Montgomery that gave the Bills a 21-10 lead.

Chicago’s Cairo Santos kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter that Nicholas Morrow set up by hitting a reckless pass. Allen scored from 4 with just under four minutes left and threw a 13-yard TD to Dawson Knox with about a minute to go.

Allen broke even with Marino when he hit Gabe Davis with a 19-yarder in the first quarter. He now has 174 touchdowns – 135 passing, 38 rushing and one reception.

James Cook #28 of the Buffalo Bills runs for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter of the game at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.

James Cook #28 of the Buffalo Bills runs for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter of the game at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

VIKINGS’ GREG JOSEPH PROFILES 61 YARD FIELD GOAL TO BEAT THE GIANTS

Allen finished with 172 yards, two TD passes and two interceptions, although he was facing a short-handed secondary. Along with Morrow’s interception, he was tackled by Kyler Gordon near the goal line in the second quarter.

“It’s not so much the cold as the wind,” Allen said. “Just bursts. You don’t really know where it’s coming from. Sometimes the flags are flying one way. The other, they’re flying the opposite way.”

Stefon Diggs caught just two passes for 26 yards. He was untargeted for the first two quarters, although the Bears did place cornerback Jaylon Johnson (ring finger) on injured reserve Friday.

Even without major contributions from their quarterback and receiver, the Bills racked up 426 yards. They ran to 254 and averaged 8.2 per carry.

Dante Pettis caught a touchdown reception for Chicago. The Bears joined the 1978 and 2002 teams as the only ones in franchise history to lose eight straight.

CHRISTMAS IN CHICAGO

The Bills were spending Christmas Eve in Chicago because of the snow in Buffalo. They were scheduled to fly to Rochester, NY on Sunday morning.

Devin Singletary #26 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a touchdown during the third quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.

Devin Singletary #26 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a touchdown during the third quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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INJURIES

Bills: RG Ryan Bates (knee) was injured while blocking for Allen on a run late in the second quarter. He came back in the third.

Bears: Fields’ unthrowable shoulder – the same one he severed late last month – bothered him during the game. He was also limping towards the end after someone stepped on his foot, although he said he should have been “ready to go”. OL Michael Schofield III (thumb) was injured on the first shot, but returned in the second quarter.

NEXT

Bills: Visit Cincinnati on January 2nd.

Bears: Visit Detroit January 1st.

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