DETROIT -- When the Bears broke the huddle on a do-or-die play Sunday in Detroit, rookie wide receiver Tyler Scott had a feeling that the ball was coming his way.
The Bears led the Lions 26-21 with 2:51 left at Ford Field. They had dominated the Lions from the opening kick-off and had a 12-point lead with five minutes to play. But after a quick Lions score and two runs for no gain and 1 yard, respectively, the Bears faced a third-and-9 from their own 26-yard line.
Pick up the first, and the Bears would be able to almost salt the game away. Fail, and the Lions would have a chance to break their hearts.
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Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy called a play for DJ Moore, but the safety came down in robber coverage, meaning the Bears had the speedy Scott singled up on the outside.
Fields dropped back, Scott beat his man off the line, and the quarterback let the deep ball fly. Scott beat his man but appeared to slow up on his route, and that split second of speed change caused the perfectly thrown ball to miss him by inches.
The Bears punted, and the Lions marched down the field and scored to shove a knife in the Bears' heart.
The missed connection between Scott and Fields, a difference of inches and seconds, was one of many moments that cost the Bears in a 31-26 loss.
"It was one of those things as a player it’s like OK, especially off of my release, I’m like there’s a good chance the ball is coming my way," Scott said after the loss. "You feel those things, where you know, it’s one of those things where it’s like it’s my chance to make an impact on this game, especially during that time to put a dagger in the game. You know it hurts that you’re not able to execute in those moments like that, and then it hurts even more to see that we come out with an ‘L.'
"It felt like routes on air. I had a clean release. It felt like a great muscle memory type of route. And ran thinking of, as I’m running, thinking of all my coaching points, looking up and not back at the ball. Easier to track. And Justin threw a great ball. A great ball. Looking up at it, I just kind of misjudged it, I guess, a little bit. It’s just something to learn from."
Fields looked sharp in his return from a four-week absence due to a dislocated right thumb. The third-year quarterback finished the game 16-for-23 for 169 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for 104 yards.
Fields chewed the Lions up for most of Sunday's game. He looked crisp, made quick and correct decisions, and showcased the rare ability that can be an equalizer against teams with more talent than the Bears.
But when the Bears needed one more play, Scott and Fields couldn't connect. The diagnosis was correct, and the throw perfect, but one or two missteps by the rookie cost the Bears the dagger play in the Motor City.
"It was just one-on-one, he had him beat, and he just misjudged the ball," Fields said after the loss. "He was running straight and tried to run it like [mimics looking back], and got off balance, and that's what caused him to kind of lose his speed. You know, he's a young player with a bright future in this league, and he'll bounce back.
"If that thing connects, I think that seals the deal, in my opinion."
The Bears outplayed the Lions for 55 minutes Sunday in Detroit.
But they once again fell apart in winning time. Nothing went right once it looked like the Bears had Sunday's game in hand.
The missed connection between Fields and Scott is the headliner. But there were also poor decisions on crucial downs by head coach Matt Eberflus, two almost interceptions by cornerback Jaylon Johnson, and a conservative two-minute approach by offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
The Bears made plenty of mistakes with the game on the line. Even so, the win was right there on their fingertips.
All they needed was for Scott to not break stride.