Justin Fields' record rushing day and 4 touchdowns - 'a huge step' - ease the sting of the Chicago Bears' latest loss

Justin Fields’ record rushing day and 4 touchdowns – ‘a huge step’ – ease the sting of the Chicago Bears’ latest loss

Truth be told, Justin Fields wanted to throw the ball to Darnell Mooney. That’s where the Chicago Bears quarterback looked third-and-fifth in the third quarter on Sunday.

Against a zone look, Fields thought Mooney had opened up in the middle. But just as Fields was about to pull the trigger, Mooney turned in a different direction.

Fields got the ball back.

“At that point,” he said, “instinct took over.”

Instincts pulled him forward into the pocket. His eyes suddenly saw an expressway with minimal traffic jams. He went on the gas and split three Miami Dolphins defensemen.

Into the open field he went, full throttle.

“It was like, ‘Holy cow!'” tight end Cole Kmet said. “When he got past me, it was pretty cool. I don’t know if there’s anyone else in the league who can do that. Really. It was pretty special.

Bears coach Matt Eberflus watched it unfold right in front of him. Asked what he saw, Eberflus lit up.

“Speed,” he said. “I saw the speed and its elusiveness. Once he enters the open field, he pretty much runs away from most people.

Sixty-one meters. Landing. NextGen Stats recorded Fields’ top speed at 20.33 mph.

The Soldier Field crowd exploded.

“You see that look in his eyes when he goes to take off,” Kmet said. “And you just know to step aside and let him do his thing.”

Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs for a 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022 at Soldier Field.

It was the longest streak of Fields’ career, part of a record-breaking and energizing performance in the Bears’ 35-32 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Early in the fourth quarter, on a 14-yard rush, Fields broke the franchise single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback. This 127-year-old 50-year-old brand was owned by Bobby Douglass.

On the next possession, Fields broke the NFL record of 173 set by Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick in 2002.

“He’s going to continue to break a lot of records,” Mooney said. “So be ready.”

Fields finished with 178 rushing yards. For good measure, he also threw three touchdown passes, including a 16-yard one to Mooney in the second quarter and two to Kmet.

For those looking for signs of hope from this 2022 season, especially from Fields and the offense, they are here now — and showing up every week.

The Bears offense has found a rhythm since mid-October, averaging 376 yards and 31 points over the last three games.

“We’re really maximizing our strengths and minimizing our weaknesses right now,” Eberflus said.

Excluding a knee down to end the first half, the Bears scored on four of their first five possessions and finished with four touchdown walks of at least 60 yards. They have 17 scoring records in the last three games. For comparison, they had 20 scoring drives in their first six games.

“It’s just about believing in ourselves,” Mooney said. “It’s about believing in the coaches and believing in Luke’s (Getsy) game plan and continuing to follow the course of our offense. No matter what, we really believe in it.

In a season that will be judged most heavily on the growth of Fields and offense, close quarters losses like Sunday’s won’t sting Bears fans as badly as they once might have.

As long as QB1 regularly shows flashes of brilliance when it comes to play, it will become easier to look past the shaking defense. This unit’s shortcomings were evident when Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill totaled 143 receiving yards, scored on a 3-yard pass from Tua Tagavailoa and drew a 32-yard pass interference penalty into the end zone. to set up another Dolphins score.

Dolphins Andrew Van Ginkel (43) carries the ball for a touchdown after a punt blocked by Bears punter Trenton Gill (16) in the second quarter on Sunday, November 6, 2022 at Soldier Field.

Fields’ production will also make it easier to sideline special teams blunders, like the broken punt protection in the second quarter that allowed Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips to block Trent Gill’s punt. Andrew Van Ginkel returned that stray ball 25 yards for a score.

Instead, Chicago will focus more on building up Fields. And make no mistake, Sunday’s performance was heartening to say the least and absolutely intoxicating for many. Eberflus called it a “great step”.

“We have a young football team,” he said. “We build on that. And the centerpiece of that is the quarterback.

Yet, it lacked a finishing touch. Twice Fields and the Bears had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to set up a tie game or a go-ahead. And twice they failed.

On those two possessions, they called 12 passing plays but ended up with just two completions for a total of 3 yards.

“That’s why you play this game,” Mooney said. “To be in those times and shine in those times and perform. … It was like what happened against Washington. Same deal. Obviously you know what happened.

“You want to become a threat (at the end of games) and dominate that and scare teams into having us in that situation.”

For a young Bears team, those kinds of situational experiences should prove invaluable to the maturation process. Ultimately, all judgments will come down to how the Bears and their offense react to these moments of online play.

“We have to find a way to put a player up there,” running back Khalil Herbert said. “Everyone here feels the same.”

Kmet added: “We had opportunities, man. Since I’ve been here, the defense has always come looking for us. You want to have a chance where the offense takes the defense. It was our chance today and we didn’t.

Yes, there was a deep shot from Fields to Chase Claypool that fell incomplete on the last drive after Dolphins cornerback Keion Crossen pulled Claypool back from the waist before the ball came in .

Officials missed that one.

“After seeing it on the board (video), it was definitely (pass interference),” Fields said. “For sure.”

Claypool added: “Justin threw me a good ball to give me a chance. I felt like I was backing up a bit. But you always have to try and fight for it.

And, yes, on Fields’ 28th and final pass of the day, receiver Equanimeous St. Brown dropped what would have been a chain reception on the fourth and 10 that could have kept the Bears alive.

But if Bears fans want Fields to be their forever quarterback, they can’t be allergic to nuance or constructive criticism when it comes to evaluating the sophomore quarterback and offense that ‘he leads.

Over time, if the Bears are to have legitimate championship hopes, Fields will need to become capable of doing a lot more damage as a passer. He threw for just 123 yards on Sunday, the eighth time in nine starts this season he’s been held below 200.

Fields also played in 10 tuck-and-run games against the Dolphins. These are symptoms of a passing attack that still doesn’t work as it should – for various reasons.

To Fields’ credit, his running abilities are special and often breathtaking. There were times Sunday when Dolphins defensemen looked like third graders trying to catch a rabbit in the park.

“He’s as fast as any technical-level runner,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “As he is really really quick. And he can cut and break tackles. There are a lot of quarterbacks in the race. This one in particular is very elitist and adept at it.

Even in a loss, Fields’ brightest moments kept Chicago’s fountain of hope flowing. For now, this is important.

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