Justin Fields’ sequel is just as thrilling, but the outcome is the same
For the second straight game, Fields and the Bears had a chance to march down the field in the final two minutes to win the game. They couldn’t and lost 31-30 to the woeful Lions at Soldier Field.
Sequels are rarely as good as the original, but Bears quarterback Justin Fields made sure his encore performance Sunday was filled with the same thrills as last week’s epic.
The deflating ending, though, was the same as last week — and six of the Bears’ last seven games.
After another afternoon of gasp-worthy touchdown runs — his one-yarder and 67-yarder were somehow equally amazing — Fields had a chance to march the Bears to a victory with about two minutes to play. The Bears fell short again in a 31-30 loss to the Lions at Soldier Field.
Fields had 147 yards on 13 carries — and almost as many superlatives.
His 555 rushing yards in the last five games are the most by any quarterback in the Super Bowl era. The same goes for his 325 rushing yards in the last two games.
No quarterback in NFL history had ever had 60-plus-yard touchdown runs in back-to-back games until Fields ran for a 61-yarder against the Dolphins and a 67-yarder against the Lions. Both were franchise records.
But there’s also this: The Bears are the first team in football history to score at least 29 points in three consecutive games and lose each time.
“What are your priorities as a player? Is it to break records or is it to win?” Fields said. “Personally, mine is to win. I don’t care about breaking records. I just want to win games.”
The Bears had a chance at the end of a fourth quarter in which they blew a 14-point lead in part because of Fields’ pick-six to cornerback Jeff Okudah.
They reclaimed the lead on Fields’ ridiculous 67-yard run — but only went up by six because Cairo Santos missed the extra point — and gave up a go-ahead touchdown with 2:24 to play.
With the ball and a chance to win, the Bears got one first down — on a defensive-holding penalty — before Fields threw an incomplete pass, took a sack and checked down to running back David Montgomery for seven yards. That set up a fourth-and-eight from the Bears’ 32 in which Fields was sacked by three Lions.
“It’s a good thing that we’re continuously progressing and doing our thing,” wide receiver Darnell Mooney said. “But if you lose the game, it doesn’t matter.”
Bears fans eyeing a top draft pick might disagree. But that’s not how the players are wired.
“For us, we don’t think about the rebuild,” center Sam Mustipher said. “We think about winning football games.”
Fields was 12-for-20 for 167 yards, two touchdowns and a 99.4 passer rating. He complained afterward that his right ear hurt — he needed stitches to repair a gash suffered in the fourth quarter — and that his legs were sore.
With good reason.
Down 10-3 with 12 seconds left in the first half, Fields took a third-and-goal shotgun snap from the 1, pump-faked to Mooney in the left flat, bluffed a run left, then another right. Lions defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs grabbed Fields around the waist but couldn’t bring him down. Fields took off left and lowered his right shoulder into Lions safety DeShon Elliott at the goal line for a touchdown.
“His grit, his toughness, how physical he can be, how strong he is,” coach Matt Eberflus said,“it’s what makes him a special player.”
Fields ran 34.2 yards on the play. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, it was the longest a player has run on a one-yard touchdown in almost six years. But it was the force of the finish that was more remarkable.
“I’ve never seen a quarterback run the football like that with that authority,” Mustipher said.
That momentum carried over into the third quarter, when Fields threw touchdown passes to tight end Cole Kmet on back-to-back drives to go up 14.
In 82 seconds early in the fourth quarter, the Bears went from thinking linebacker Jack Sanborn intercepted a pass up by two touchdowns — it was overturned by a hands-to-the-face penalty on cornerback Jaylon Johnson — to being tied.
Lions running back D’Andre Swift scored on a nine-yard run one play after the flag. Two plays later, Fields threw the first pick-six of his career when he forced a screen pass to Kmet. Okudah returned the interception 20 yards to the end zone.
“Just a dumb play,” Fields said.
On the next drive, Fields took a shotgun snap on third-and-two, faked a handoff and ran to the right behind Kmet, who had gone in motion. Fields split safety JuJu Hughes and linebacker Alex Anzalone and dashed left of safety Kerby Joseph at the Bears’ 39. No one could catch him.
“After I cut inside and made him miss, I knew it was over with,” Fields said.
He ran 20.15 mph on the play and has topped 20 mph seven times this year. All the other quarterbacks in the NFL have combined for nine.
Just another superlative on another thrilling Sunday afternoon.
All the Bears need now is an actual win.
“Just finish,” Fields said. “We’re putting up 30 points a game, so just finish when we get those late-game drives.”