With the wind whipping and the snow swirling, the Bears had another chance to make a prime-time statement in a game that looked as if it was being played inside a snow globe that had been shaken up.
Instead, they played like a little kid that puts on too many snow clothes, falls over and can't get up.
It was the Patriots who looked more at home in elements straight off a Currier and Ives holiday card during their 36-7 demolition of the Bears at Soldier Field.
Bear weather? Hardly. The Bears looked like a warm-weather team.
"Instead of being Bears weather, it was Patriots weather," safety Chris Harris said. "They seemed to be very comfortable out there."
The turf at Soldier Field has been a decided advantage in their last two home games against the Vikings and Eagles but on this day it was the Patriots who refused to let the weather derail the league's most prolific scoring offense while bolting to a 33-0 lead at the break and outgaining the Bears 273-33.
Tom Brady's accuracy was as pinpoint as usual despite wind gusts that reached 50 mph.
Brady completed 27 of 40 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns.
"Coach [Bill Belichick] always stresses the opponent that we're playing is the Chicago Bears --- not the weather, not the refs, not the crowd," Brady said. "It's the Bears. That's what we were focused on today."
Meanwhile, Bears' receivers dropped passes, defenders blew coverages and missed tackles and Jay Cutler turned in his lowest-rated performance of the season after completing 12 of 26 passes for 156 yards and two interceptions.
"They came in here --- our field, our weather, and pounded us," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said.
The Patriots play on artificial turf but seemed more sure of their footing on the snow-covered natural grass, which allowed them to consistently pick up key first downs and make big plays like Deion Branch's 59-yard touchdown catch and run as the final seconds ticked off the second-quarter clock.
The Bears couldn't get anything going offensively and couldn't get a stop defensively during the first half. They were better in the second half but by then it was too late.
"If we knew that we would have done something about it out there," Bears coach Lovie Smith said when asked if the conditions affected the Bears more than the Patriots.
"There's no answer for things like that. Again, they made plays today and we didn't as far as the weather. The weather affected both of us [and] they played better than we did."
Nobody was making excuses afterwards as player after player agreed with linebacker Lance Briggs' assessment that this had been a "butt whipping," although Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris did say the Patriots' defensive scheme may have given them a built-in advantage in the wintry conditions.
"If you're a fast defense you play better on turf and other fast surfaces," Harris said. "Their defense is a 3-4, so their guys stand up so traction isn't a problem."
The Bears won't get another crack at the Patriots unless both teams reach the Super Bowl, which is being played in Dallas, where average February high temperature is 59 degrees.
"They get snow in New England, too," defensive tackle Anthony Adams said. "They were the better team today. We've got to watch the film and never do that again."