Bears QB Justin Fields took on the NFC’s best team almost by himself

Playing without four of his best five receivers, one of his two regular running backs and three of his projected Week 1 linemen, Fields was a one-man offense in a 25-20 loss to the Eagles.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields celebrates a first down Sunday.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields celebrates a first down Sunday.

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Bears quarterback Justin Fields didn’t take on the NFC’s best team alone Sunday at Soldier Field, but it felt that way.

Amazingly, it was almost enough to win.

Playing without four of his best five receivers, one of his two regular running backs and three of his projected Week 1 linemen, Fields was a one-man offense in a 25-20 loss to the Eagles.

His 95 yards on 15 carries led all rushers, and his 119.5 passer rating was almost double that of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, one of the front-runners for NFL MVP. Fields, who went 14-for-21 for 152 yards and two touchdowns, was responsible for all but 62 of the Bears’ yards.

The Bears either led or were within one score of the Eagles for all but 5 minutes, 11 seconds.

That’s not a victory — the Bears haven’t had one of those since Oct. 24 — and shouldn’t be treated as such. But the fact they weren’t good enough Sunday because they didn’t have enough around their quarterback turned the franchise’s 102-year curse on its head.

Coach Matt Eberflus called Fields ‘‘special’’ three times after the game. Not to be outdone, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni used the word four times to describe him.

‘‘Justin impresses the world,’’ said receiver Byron Pringle, who caught a 35-yard scramble-drill touchdown pass with 2:43 left to pull the Bears to 25-20. ‘‘That’s no question about Justin. You never know what you’re gonna get. I grew up watching Michael Vick. He can move just like him. You never know. Justin can throw it. He ran it. He can beat you.’’

He’ll probably have to wait until next season for his next victory, given that the 3-11 Bears will be underdogs in their final three games. This season, he’ll have to settle for breaking records.

Fields’ eye-popping 39-yard run in the second quarter — on second-and-27, he danced in the pocket, ducked underneath edge rusher Haason Reddick, who had grabbed his neck, and sprinted up the left sideline — launched him past Bobby Douglass, whose 968 rushing yards in 1972 had been the franchise record for a quarterback. Fields finished the game with exactly 1,000 rushing yards this season, making him the third quarterback to reach the milestone. The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson did it in 2019 and 2020, and Vick did it with the Falcons in 2006.

Fields is 207 yards away from breaking Jackson’s all-time rushing record for a quarterback, which was set in 2019.

‘‘Might as well just try to go get that record,’’ he said.

Fields, however, said he sees scrambling as a necessary evil, a way to move the ball when nothing else works. He hopes he won’t have to rely on it as much next season.

‘‘I don’t plan on rushing for a thousand yards every year,’’ he said.

He won’t — if the Bears can give him the help he lacked Sunday.

On his final drive, Fields handed off to running back Darrynton Evans, who has 14 carries all season, and threw incomplete to rookie receiver Velus Jones, who has four catches on the season. He completed two passes to Nsimba Webster, who was promoted from the practice squad Saturday and never had been the target of an NFL pass until Sunday. He ended the drive by launching the touchdown pass to Pringle, the Bears’ biggest free-agent investment at the position last offseason, who has managed 96 receiving yards all season.

Fields was throwing to them because the Bears were without receivers Darnell Mooney, who is out for the season with an ankle injury; Chase Claypool, who was ruled out Friday with a knee problem; and N’Keal Harry, who was scratched 90 minutes before kickoff with a back issue. His best remaining receiver, Equanimeous St. Brown, was concussed after catching a pass in the first quarter.

Khalil Herbert, who leads all NFL running backs in yards per carry, wasn’t on the field, either. He’s eligible to return from injured reserve Saturday against the Bills.

Fields doesn’t stop to consider what the offense would look like if it were healthy.

‘‘You could wonder all you want,’’ he said. ‘‘The reality is . . . you have to play with who you have out there.’’

The Bears have Fields and not much else. Their first touchdown, a nine-yard run by David Montgomery halfway through the second quarter, came one play after Fields’ long run. Their second touchdown, a 10-yard reception by Montgomery, came when Fields found him in the flat against a blitz.

The Bears trailed by four when Jake Elliott doinked a field goal off the right upright with 8:29 left. Fields scrambled for 18 yards two plays later, only for it to be negated by a holding penalty on tackle Riley Reiff. Fields began cramping. He limped off the field, stretched on the sideline and went to the locker room for an IV. Nathan Peterman threw incomplete on third down, the Bears punted and the Eagles marched down the field to go up by 12.

Fields, who returned to throw the touchdown pass to Pringle, said he plans on getting an IV before every game to prevent the cramping that has dogged him all season. Even in the cold, he said, ‘‘I’m still exerting energy.’’

On Sunday, that was an understatement.

‘‘If there’s a reason for optimism, it absolutely is Justin Fields,’’ center Sam Mustipher said. ‘‘That guy’s electric. [Fans] should be excited about that. I think everybody’s excited about that. I think the league is excited about the future prospects for that guy. He’s a special player.’’

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