Oct. 26, 2014 at Gillette Stadium.
That was when and where the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears last met for a game of win-loss consequence.
And if that 1 p.m. ET kickoff doesn’t seem so long ago, well, revisiting some notes from what would unfold as a 51-23 rout might soon make you feel old.
Like the fact Marc Trestman, now on the Toronto Argonauts’ sideline, was then Chicago’s head coach and Jay Cutler, currently “not really looking to do a lot of work,” was the Bears’ starting quarterback. Or the fact the Patriots have since punched tickets to three Super Bowls.
Feel four years older yet?
Here are some other trivial points of reference from that game ahead of this Sunday’s matchup at Soldier Field.
Handful of Bears remain
Four Bears players who logged snaps against the Patriots back in 2014 remain on the roster in 2018.
That nucleus for general manager Ryan Pace and first-year head coach Matt Nagy includes guard Kyle Long, cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Sherrick McManis, and punter Pat O’Donnell.
Among the inactives back then was a fifth holdover, offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr., a rookie seventh-round pick out of Boise State who has since started 50 games for Chicago.
Double-digit Patriots still are ones
In contrast, 13 Patriots players who logged snaps the last time out against the Bears remain in the fold today.
On offense, Tom Brady, James White, James Develin, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Marcus Cannon checked in. On defense, so did Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. And in the kicking game, the same went for Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen and Matthew Slater.
Safety and core special-teamer Nate Ebner was inactive due to a broken thumb.
Future – and past – Patriots acquisitions
The 2014 Bears featured four players would go on to make more frequent stops in Foxborough.
Tight end Martellus Bennett, who caught six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown versus New England that afternoon, was acquired via trade ahead of 2016. Linebacker Shea McClellin and defensive back Brock Vereen would later sign to the 53-man roster and practice squad, respectively. And linebacker Jon Bostic, an inactive for that Week 8 matchup, was dealt to the Patriots in the fall of 2015.
But there were also a pair of ex-Patriots already on the field for the Bears in defensive end Trevor Scott and kicker Robbie Gould.
Gray ground attack
A reserve-futures signing carried the load against Chicago.
Jonas Gray didn’t know he’d soon carry the football 37 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns en route to a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated. No one knew LeGarrette Blount would soon be reacquired after a short stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers, either.
But versus the Bears, in what marked just the second regular-season game of Gray’s NFL career, the Notre Dame product rushed for 86 yards on 17 carries.
New England trio caught a perfect game
There would be no incompletions in the vicinity of Gronkowski, fellow tight end Tim Wright or wide receiver Brandon LaFell against the Bears. There would, however, be 27 passes completed.
Gronkowski, Wright and LaFell combined 334 yards and five touchdowns while Brady finished 30-of-35 passing for 354 yards.
A certain second-round QB out of Eastern Illinois also stepped in to complete three passes of his own.
Revis, Moore generated turnovers
Cutler would be responsible for both of the game’s turnovers.
The Bears QB threw an interception to Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis to end the half, and fumbled on a strip-sack split between rookie defensive end Zach Moore and Hightower shortly before that, which resulted in a Rob Ninkovich touchdown return.
First-rounder Dominique Easley and former Tennessee Titan Akeem Ayers would also get to Cutler for solo sacks.
‘Maybe the best back in the league’
“One of the best backs in the league. Maybe the best back in the league,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said of Bears two-time Pro Bowler Matt Forte leading up to the 2014 encounter. “Certainly been an impressive guy to watch, both in the passing game and in the running game.”
Forte continued to be an impressive guy for Belichick to watch in both phases that Sunday.
The veteran running back tallied 168 yards from scrimmage and a TD on 25 touches versus New England’s defense. He’d finish the campaign with 218 carries and 102 catches.
Pyrrhic sack celebration
With 3:24 remaining and the Bears down by 25 points, Lamarr Houston registered Chicago’s lone sack of the contest. But the takedown of Jimmy Garoppolo for a loss of 11 would also mark the loss of Houston.
The defensive end suffered a torn right ACL during his celebration and was placed on injured reserve the following week.
It was Houston’s first sack of the 2014 season. He’d bounce back with eight in 2015.
Butler’s initial pass breakups
An undrafted tryout by way of West Alabama and Hinds Community College had a hand in things, too.
Malcolm Butler recorded the first two pass deflections of his NFL career on back-to-back plays with under a minute remaining in that matinee against Chicago. Both were thrown by Bears backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen, with one intended for Brandon Marshall and the other for Alshon Jeffery.
The rookie corner on a crowded depth chart played 15 snaps that day.
Second glance at White
It was a redshirt rookie season for James White. But the fourth-round running back from Wisconsin was on the field for the matchup with Chicago.
It’d be the second appearance of White’s NFL tenure. It’d be one of just three he’d make in 2014 behind the likes of Gray, Blount, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden. And it saw him handle six carries for 17 yards – and no receptions.
Time has had its way.