Heading into Sunday's game, the story of the day in Chicago was the weather: The Bears and Patriots played in a blizzard, and both teams were affected by the cold, snow and wind.
But coming out of the game the story is that New England, the 36-7 winner, looks like the best team in football.
The Patriots absolutely dominated the Bears in all phases of the game, and if there was any doubt heading into Sunday about New England, that doubt was erased: The Patriots have to be considered the favorites to win their fourth Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.
Some thoughts on the game:
• The Patriots' offense was tremendous on a 12-play, 85-yard drive in the first quarter that ended with Brady hitting Rob Gronkowski for a 7-yard touchdown. Brady demonstrated early on that he'd be able to pick apart the Bears' defense all day, and that's exactly what he did.
• Brady continued to shred the Bears' defense in the second quarter, with a drive full of short passes ending with a touchdown run by Danny Woodhead, who showed great awareness of where he was on the field in diving into the end zone. That drive covered 11 plays and 87 yards. With that score, the Patriots led 14-0.
• On the Bears' first play after that touchdown, receiver Johnny Knox caught a Jay Cutler pass and fumbled, and the Patriots' Gary Guyton picked up the ball and ran 35 yards for a touchdown. The score was 21-0 at that point, and the blowout was on.
• From there, the Patriots looked like they took their feet of the gas a little bit, settling for a couple short field goals on their next two possessions to make the score 27-0. But then the Patriots stepped on the accelerator again and scored on a Brady-to-Deion Branch touchdown pass on the final play of the first half to make it 33-0 at halftime.
• A Devin Hester 61-yard kickoff return set up the Bears' first touchdown, which made the score 36-7 midway through the third quarter. By that point the game was in garbage time, however, and garbage football was what the fans were treated to the rest of the way, as both the Patriots and Bears looked like they just wanted to get home -- the Patriots to celebrate another big win, and the Bears to warm up and lick their wounds.
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