CHICAGO —I’ve never seen the wheels fall off a vehicle quicker than the Bears’ breakdown Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Justin Fields dazzled from the opening kickoff in what was his best game as a passer in the NFL. Fields was sharp, accurate, and made quick decisions while the Bears jumped out to a 28-7 lead.
It was going to be a cleansing day for a Bears team in deep need of a win, especially one in which Fields plays at the MVP level many envision for him.
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Then, Muphy’s Law went into effect at Soldier Field as the Bears allowed the Broncos to score 24 unanswered points in a 31-28 loss.
For 45 minutes, the Bears did everything right. They fell apart quicker than a wet piece of paper in the final stanza.
Here’s a deflating report card for a team that played better but couldn’t get out of its own way to snap a long losing streak:
Fields authored the best day of his career Sunday. He started the day with 16 straight completions and, at one point, was 23-for-25 for 285 yards and four touchdowns.
The Bears found the lost play sheets with the “Fields friendly” calls on Sunday. There was a heavy dose of pre-snap motion, play-action, bootlegs, and pocket movement. The Bears found ways to scheme, D.J. Moore, Cole Kmet, and Darnell Mooney open, giving Fields a lot of easy-access throws. When Fields had to use his legs, he did so to extend plays behind the line before hitting the open man.
For three quarters, it was a tour de force from QB1. An unlucky fourth-quarter fumble courtesy of a perfectly-timed blitz and a game-ending interception on a miscommunication are the only things that marred Fields’ day.
Now, can he do it again in a win?
FIELDS GRADE: A-
OVERALL GRADE: A-
The Bears finally found their ground game Sunday against a subpar Broncos front.
Khalil Herbert rushed for 103 yards on 5.7 per carry, while Fields added 25 on the ground, including a big 20-yard run to convert a key third down.
But all the good the run game did was washed away when Herbert was stopped on fourth-and-1 from the Broncos’ 18 with under four to play and the game tied.
The Broncos took advantage of the Bears’ inability to gain a yard and marched down to kick a game-winning field goal.
“Just got to find a way to get it,” Herbert said after the loss.
GRADE: B- (downgraded for fourth and 1 failure)
The Bears entered Sunday’s game without starting cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon and safety Eddie Jackson.
With two rookie corners, two second-year safeties, and a journeyman slot corner, Russell Wilson went 21 for 28 for 223 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bears’ defense played a lot of base Sunday and did a good job of holding Wilson in check for two-and-a-half quarters.
But eventually, the dam broke, and Wilson dialed it up in the second half, throwing two late touchdown passes to leave the Bears faithful devastated.
It was a mediocre effort from an undermanned unit that couldn’t get a stop when the Bears needed it.
The Bears’ run defense was fine for two quarters Sunday, but they eventually led Jaleel McLaughlin to get loose in the second half. McLaughlin rushed for 72 yards on seven carries and gave the Broncos some balance with Javonte Williams out.
The Bears got some good moments from Jack Sanborn, DeMarcus Walker, and Yannick Ngakoue but had issues tackling in space and the run fits fell apart in the second half.
The Bears looked more prepared Sunday vs. the Broncos.
The offensive game plan made sense and the execution was crisp. On defense, Eberflus dialed up some wrinkles in the first half to keep Denver on its back foot and cover up the Bears’ undermanned secondary.
But the typical issues reared their head late in the game. The Bears’ attention to detail waned and execution went down the drain as they blew a 21-point lead.
That’s on coaching.