Tom Brady and the Patriots offense looked way too comfortable in blizzard conditions against the Bears' third-ranked defense Sunday.
''We've been pretty good in the snow over the years. I think because we practice in it quite a bit,'' Brady said after the Patriots gained 475 yards in a 36-7 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field.
''We don't go out in our bubble very often. If it's windy, we practice out there. If it's snowing, we practice in the snow. If it's raining, we practice in the rain. Some conditions are a big tougher than others.''
In windy, snowy, tough-sledding conditions, Brady operated the Patriots offense like he was in Miami. Brady was 27-of-40 for 369 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 113.4 passer rating. That's his worst passer rating in five games, but considering the opponent and the conditions, it might have been one of the best of his storied career.
''I have no idea how he does what he does,'' Patriots tackle Matt Light said, ''but the type of routes that they were running and how he was delivering the ball ... and the opportunities we had being able to stay on track -- positive yards on first and second down; not having to do a whole lot of third-and-longs helped out a lot.''
That doesn't explain the Patriots' second possession, when Brady converted three consecutive third-and-long plays for a touchdown that gave them a 7-0 lead. He hit Wes Welker for 17 yards on third-and-10, Deion Branch for 16 yards on third-and-12 and tight end Rob Gronkowski for a seven-yard touchdown on third-and-goal.
That sequence said more about the difference between the Bears and the Patriots than the Bears might want to know. One play after Chris Harris had an interception fall off his fingertips in the end zone after Brian Urlacher tipped a Brady pass, Gronkowski ran the simplest of plays to beat Urlacher for a touchdown -- running to the goal line in the middle of the field and turning around in front of Urlacher to make the catch. The Patriots beat one of the best linebackers in football and made it look easy.
''Just ran my route,'' said Gronkowski, a second-round pick form Arizona who has seven touchdowns this season. ''Just had to get in the end zone, get big and turn around. Tom threw a nice ball, where only I could get it. It was just executed well. Everybody did their job.''
At the time, it looked like Harris' missed opportunity for the interception would be one the Bears would rue in the end. As it turned out, it was a mere seven points out of 36 the Patriots scored.
They Patriots were that good. They outgained the Bears 475-185, had 27 first downs and dominated time of possession 39:41 to 20:19.
The Bears ran just 19 plays in the first half. Jay Cutler was 4-for-8 for 28 yards in the first half. Brady was 13-for-21 for 195 yards and two touchdowns, a 124.1 passer rating.
''You're out in whatever the elements are,'' Brady said. ''You've got to be mentally tough enough to play in them. Both teams are playing in them. Coach [Bill Belichick] always stresses the opponent that we're playing is the Chicago Bears, not the weather, not the refs, not the crowd. It's the Bears. And that is what we were focused on today.
''It was one of those days. One of those days people would rather be cized up near the fireplace, drinking hot chocolate. But we work on Sundays and all of us were pretty committed to coming out there and trying to play well and execute well in some pretty tough conditions. And for the most part, we did that.''
The Bears did their part. The Patriots appeared content with a 27-0 lead when Danny Woodhead ran into the line for a one-yard gain with 26 seconds left in the first half. But with five second to go, Brady caught the Bears napping and threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Branch.
''I think at one point the coaches were telling us to take a knee,'' Branch said. ''I'm looking at Tom like, 'Take a knee.' He looked at me like, 'No.'We capitalized on what they wre giving us on defense and took a shot at it. My job was to get past Charles Tillman and let Tom and the front line do the rest and they did it.''