Bills pull away to defeat depleted Bears 35-13; Justin Fields ‘fine’ after late injury

Fields went to the sideline with an apparent injury to his left leg with 2:08 remaining.

SHARE Bills pull away to defeat depleted Bears 35-13; Justin Fields ‘fine’ after late injury
A photo of Bears quarterback Justin Fields running with the ball against the Bills.

Justin Fields is constantly scrambling because of offensive line and wide receiver deficiencies.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Bears have a history of turning something into nothing. Now they’re asking quarterback Justin Fields to turn nothing into something.

Sometimes he can, but this team is presenting him with increasingly ludicrous scenarios. The latest challenge? See if you can beat the favorite to win the Super Bowl without your top three wide receivers and top two offensive linemen.

The best Fields managed in those circumstances Saturday was a lead at halftime and to get the Bears within a touchdown and two-point conversion early in the fourth quarter. The Bills prevailed 35-13 in what was just another step in the Bears’ trudge toward a high draft pick as their losing streak reached eight, matching the longest in their history.

This season is now two losses away from being the second-worst in the 103-year history of the franchise.

Saturday featured exactly the situation general manager Ryan Poles needed to prevent: a game in which the Bears had so little talent on the field that it illuminated little about their future.

Even worse, it ended with Fields limping to the sideline. A Bills defender stepped on his foot as he threw incomplete on a desperate fourth-and-14 with 2:08 left, and backup Nathan Peterman finished the game.

Coach Matt Eberflus said Fields was ‘‘fine’’ and could have returned.

Fields also took a hard shot to his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which he separated in Week 11. While he has been able to play through it, he said the injury has continued to bother him.

What could possibly be learned about Fields when he had no one to block for him, no one to whom he could reliably throw and no supporting cast in the ground game? He usually has to do without a credible defense, too, though that side of the ball played decently against the No. 4 scoring offense in the NFL.

If this is how it’s going to be, with minimal help and minimal protection, it’s mostly pointless to play Fields in the last two games. It’s not accomplishing much.

Fields completed 15 of 23 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown for a 92.5 passer rating — modestly efficient but far from prodigious. He also ran seven times for 11 yards.

But, again, there’s only so much he can do alone.

‘‘Just be him; just operate the offense [and] be the leader that he is,’’ Eberflus said of his expectations of Fields in this ordeal. ‘‘You’re gonna have different things go on, but he’s very resilient. He’s got a lot of grit.’’

There’s a big difference between things that go on that are external forces and those that are the consequences of the Bears’ decisions.

On fourth-and-three from the Bills’ 16 early in the fourth quarter, Fields threw to backup tight end Ryan Griffin and thought he got the first down, but replay review showed Griffin was just short.

Fields did what was needed, but it wasn’t enough. That play would’ve ended differently if he was throwing to Travis Kelce.

But without anyone of that caliber, all the Bears could do was sit back and wait for Fields to do something magical. It never happened.

They spent the last few years trying the everything-but-the-quarterback model and now have moved on to the quarterback-but-nothing-else approach.

Surprise, neither works.

This season began with quizzical looks and head-shaking about how little Poles did to supply Fields with teammates that could facilitate his development. He developed anyway.

‘‘I don’t look at what’s around me,’’ Fields said. ‘‘As long as I do my job as best as possible, we have a chance versus anybody.’’

Fields began the season with a patchwork offensive line and a receiver group made up of Darnell Mooney and little else. Poles even acknowledged his acquisitions ‘‘might not be the name[s] everyone wants to hear,’’ but he asked everyone to trust that he and Eberflus knew what they were doing.

The Bears’ shaky offensive line was missing its two best players in right guard Teven Jenkins and left guard Cody Whitehair, and backup right guard Michael Schofield left with a thumb injury after their first possession. That left Dieter Eiselen, who has spent most of his NFL career on the practice squad and had played only six offensive snaps, protecting the future of the franchise for a stretch before Schofield returned in the second quarter.

Fields also played with a receiver crew made up entirely of one-year free-agent rentals and beleaguered rookie Velus Jones. That’s all that was left after Mooney’s season-ending injury last month, Chase Claypool being ruled out with a knee injury and Equanimeous St. Brown still in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

The assumption is that the Bears will look dramatically better once Poles uses his ample salary-cap space and draft capital to fill out the roster, but that’s just an assumption. Poles is a first-time GM, and all he has done so far is what anyone else would’ve done while trying to clean up former GM Ryan Pace’s mess. He has no track record yet.

If he doesn’t make the necessary improvements, there will be a lot more games that look like this.

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