Patriots thrive in blizzard-like conditions

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010


CHICAGO - The snow and wind were unrelenting Sunday at Solider Field. So, too, were the New England Patriots. It was another week, another lopsided victory for the Patriots, who sprinted to a 33-point halftime lead on the wintry day and beat the Chicago Bears, 36-7.

"They don't cancel football games very often," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "It's not like baseball. We don't play out in San Diego very often."

The Patriots extended their winning streak to five games, improved their record to 11-2 and clinched a playoff berth. They moved two games ahead of the New York Jets in the AFC East and remained the front-runner for the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

Lately, they have resembled the 2007 Patriots team that rewrote portions of the NFL record book for offensive prowess, prompted allegations by some onlookers that they ran up the score on certain opponents and took an unbeaten record into the Super Bowl before being upset by the New York Giants. These Patriots have won their last two games by a combined margin of 81-10. They've totaled 126 points in their last three games.

Brady threw two touchdown passes Sunday in a 27-for-40, 369-yard passing performance. He has thrown 19 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last eight games. He has 29 touchdown passes and four interceptions for the season, and has gone 268 throws without an interception.

Brady threw first-half touchdown passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Deion Branch. Running back Danny Woodhead provided a rushing touchdown, and the Patriots added a defensive touchdown and two field goals for a 33-0 advantage at the intermission. The Bears, meanwhile, had 33 yards of total offense in the first half.

Branch and fellow wide receiver Wes Welker each topped 100 receiving yards for the day.

"There were some gusts out there that made it kind of tough at times," Welker said. "But we were able to work through it."

The Bears finished the game with 185 total yards and committed four turnovers. Quarterback Jay Cutler threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. The Bears (9-4) had a five-game winning streak end but remained a game ahead of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.

"That's an elite team there and to get where we want to go, those are the teams we have to beat [and] we've got to compete with," Cutler said. "It's little mistakes out there and those things add up in a hurry, especially against a team like that."

The temperature was 26 degrees at game time, with 30-mph winds and a wind chill factor of 9 degrees. The snow was falling steadily and blowing all over the stadium. The goal posts were swaying in the wind, and workers stayed busy all day shoveling snow off the yard lines on the field in five-yard increments. During one timeout, Beach Boys music blared over the stadium loudspeakers.

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