So much for the concept of "Bears weather" being an advantage.
The home team found itself on the wrong end of the largest halftime deficit in franchise history when it went to the locker room trailing the New England Patriots 33-0.
Continuous snow that began well before the opening kickoff and fell throughout the game. Winds of up to 40 mph. Temperatures that fell into the teens with wind chills below zero by halftime.
All of it did nothing to help the Bears, who had won five in a row.
Instead the Patriots gave the home team a lesson in overcoming the elements in a 36-7 whipping that improved their record to 11-2.
Fortunately for the 9-4 Bears, they maintained their 1-game lead in the NFC North because the Lions upset the Packers in Detroit, dropping Green Bay to 8-5.
Bottom line, the Bears still can clinch the NFC North title next week with a victory over the Minnesota Vikings and a Packers loss to the Patriots in New England.
But it remains to be seen if the Bears can bounce back from being destroyed at home.
The Patriots held a 475-185 advantage in total yards, a commanding 39:41-20:19 time of possession advantage and a 351-158 edge in passing yards.
"They dominated us in all three phases," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "You have to play your best ball every snap, and we did too many things wrong. You can't do that against good football teams."
The Bears' inability to compete with the Patriots, arguably the NFL's best team, will again raise the question of whether they are playoff contenders or pretenders. To a man they insist that they can recover from an embarrassing defeat.
Nickel back D.J. Moore, who, like all the other Bears defenders, had trouble covering Wes Welker (8 catches, 115 yards), may have said it best.
"It's like when you're getting a whuppin' when you're little," Moore said. "You cry, but then your mom talks to you, and you learn from it."
The Bears learned that, at least on this particular day, they could not compete with the Patriots.
"They were that much better than us today," safety Chris Harris said. "But it's just one game in a 16-game schedule, so it's just 1 loss."
Nose tackle Anthony Adams had 1 of the Bears' 3 sacks, but that came in the second half, as did almost all of what little pressure the Bears put on Brady. By then the outcome was no longer in doubt, but Adams said the Bears will rebound.
"It's not going to be tough," he said. "They were the better team (Sunday) and our hats go off to New England. They played a heck of a game."
The Bears did not.
They didn't do anything well, especially in the first half.
When Tom Brady found Deion Branch completely unattended down the west sideline for a 59-yard TD with five seconds left in the first half to make it 33-0, many of the hearty souls who still were in attendance booed the home team or headed for home.
Any why not? At that point the Bears had been outgained in total yardage 273-33. The Patriots had 15 first downs; the Bears had 2. The Patriots had 193 passing yards; the Bears had 14.
You get the idea; it was no contest.
Much like Welker, the red-hot Brady didn't appear affected by the conditions.
He completed 27 of 40 passes for 369 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 113.4.
Cutler played his worst game of the season. His 32.9 passer rating was lower than in his 4-interception game in the loss to Washington. He completed 12 of 26 passes for 152 yards with 2 interceptions and no touchdowns.
"It's going to be a setback for us," Cutler said of the Bears' most lopsided loss since last year's 45-10 setback at Cincinnati. "We've got to take a look at it and learn from it.
"But at the same time we've got to get ready for the next hurdle, we've got to get ready for a tough road game against a divisional opponent."
The Bears got away with playing an uninspired first half a week earlier at Detroit, but the hole they dug against the Patriots was too deep to escape.
They already were trailing 14-0 when Gary Guyton returned a Johnny Knox fumble 35 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 9:56 remaining in the first half.
After that the outcome was never in doubt. The Bears challenged the call on the field, claiming Knox was on the ground before fumbling, but the original ruling was confirmed by replay review.
"Anytime you lose the ball, that's a big loss for you and your team," said Knox, who was held to 2 catches for 16 yards. "I just have to do a better job of protecting the ball."
After what promises to be an uncomfortable film session Monday morning, the Bears will immediately try to put this game in the rearview mirror.
"There's always a 24-hour rule," Adams said. "Win or lose you put it behind you. It's just one game. You learn from it, just like a boxer.
"Sometimes you're going to get knocked out, but you have to get back up and keep fighting, and that's what we're going to do."
•Follow Bob LeGere's Bears reports via Twitter@BobLeGere. Check out his blog, Bear Essentials, at dailyherald.com.