Bears quarterback Justin Fields starts with razzle-dazzle, ends with dud vs. Packers
An offense that was stuck in the Soldier Field mud last week played like that on the much drier turf at Lambeau Field during a 27-10 loss Sunday to the rival Packers.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Bears’ trick play on their first possession Sunday was a lie. What felt like the start of a memorable game against their dominant rival instead served as a prelude to a forgettable offensive performance by quarterback Justin Fields.
An offense that was stuck in the Soldier Field mud in the season opener played like that on the much drier turf at Lambeau Field during a 27-10 loss to the Packers. It reminded the Bears what they must have known entering the season: If they’re going to win games, they can’t do it by hoping Fields can race Aaron Rodgers to 30 points. Or even 20.
The Bears need to run the ball efficiently and put their second-year quarterback in position not only to make amazing plays but easy, on-time throws, too. Through two games — the Week 1 victory in standing water was hardly predictive — it’s unclear whether he can.
Fields completed 7 of 11 passes for 70 yards, with one interception and a 43.8 passer rating. Take away the 22 yards in sacks, and the Bears had 48 passing yards. It marked only the third time in 11 years that the Bears — a franchise allergic to the forward pass — finished with 50 or fewer net passing yards.
Fields said ‘‘of course’’ he wanted to throw more, but coordinator Luke Getsy told the Bears before the game they would run often.
‘‘I’m a competitor ... ’’ Fields said. ‘‘My job is to run the play that’s given to me the best that I can.’’
At least the first drive was smooth. The Bears had leaned on running back David Montgomery for 16 yards on two carries when, from the shotgun, Fields handed off to him again. Montgomery turned and flipped the ball back to Fields.
Fields looked left and found former Packers receiver Equanimeous St. Brown on a curl route for 30 yards. Three plays later, Fields dived across the front right pylon for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
The drive answered some of the Bears’ biggest questions from Week 1. The 71-yard scoring drive was three yards longer than the 68 yards the Bears totaled in the first half of the opener. Montgomery, in three runs, eclipsed his 26 rushing yards from the week before. And St. Brown’s catch was one more than they had to any receiver in the first half last week.
The drive lied. Fields had 30 passing yards on the first possession — all on the flea-flicker — and 40 the rest of the game.
Head coach Matt Eberflus offered few explanations for the passing game, other than to say, ‘‘We’ll look at it.’’
For the rest of the first half, the Bears looked as inept as they had in the first half of Week 1— only without a downpour to blame.
The Bears gained three yards the rest of the half — the length of the screen pass thrown to running back Khalil Herbert when they wanted the clock to expire. The Bears’ three other possessions ended with three-and-out punts and produced zero yards. Their third-down distances were 19 yards, 10 yards and 15 yards.
Their second drive was ugly. Fields was sacked on first down before receiver Darnell Mooney was taken down on a screen pass to force third-and-19. The Bears dumped a give-up screen to Montgomery and punted.
Their third possession was embarrassing. On third down, Fields scrambled and threw a completion to St. Brown — only he was three yards past the line of scrimmage. The flag turned into a loss of down, a five-yard penalty and a punt.
Trailing by 10, the Bears’ next drive went like this: a dropped pass by tight end Cole Kmet, a loss of five yards on a run by Montgomery and a slant pass six yards short of the sticks.
The Bears wouldn’t get another first down until the second drive of the second half. By then, they were down by 17 points.
The Bears ran well only after the game was out of handAt the start of the fourth quarter, they started with the ball at their own 10. They didn’t complete a pass as they drove to the Packers’ 1.
‘‘We were going with what was working for us,’’ Eberflus said.
Fields ran twice for 10 yards on the drive, but he needed 11. On third-and-goal from the 6, Fields ran right and dived for the front right pylon. He was ruled down at the 1. With 8:13 left and the Bears down by 14, Fields took a shotgun snap and plunged forward, only to be stuffed short of the goal line.
The Bears challenged the call and lost. Fields said he thought he got in.
‘‘It changes everything,’’ he said. ‘‘Then again, I didn’t get in. You have to face the facts.’’