Justin Fields

What we learned as Justin Fields dazzles in Bears' dominant win vs. Falcons

Justin Fields was near flawless Sunday, leading the Bears to a dominant win over the Falcons in what could be his final Soldier Field start

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Josh Schrock joins Mark Carman on Football Night in Chicago to talk about Justin Fields’ mindset at the Bears QB decision deadline draws closer

CHICAGO -- If Sunday was it for Justin Fields at Soldier Field, the Bears quarterback didn't go out with a whimper.

On the contrary, Fields' statement performance Sunday might wind up being a key part of the closing argument to keep him in Chicago and build around him in the long term.

Fields was nearly flawless Sunday, going 20-for-32 for 268 yards and one touchdown while adding 45 yards and a touchdown on the ground to lead the Bears to a 37-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Fields beat the Falcons with his arm early and sprinkled in some of his patented Fields magic on the ground to put it away in the second half.

With Fields in full command on offense, the Bears defense did the rest, forcing four turnovers and suffocating the Falcons' offense in a convincing win to close out 2023.

Here's what we learned in the Bears' 37-17 win vs. the Falcons:

A deadly combo and a milestone

After Younghoe Koo missed a 50-yard field goal on the Falcons' opening drive, the Bears took over with an opening script that worked to perfection.

Fields opened the drive with a 32-yard strike to DJ Moore along the right sideline. Three plays later, the Bears' offensive line gave Fields plenty of time on third-and-9, and the quarterback eventually found a wide-open Roschon Johnson out of the backfield for a gain of 24.

Fields capped off the Bears' opening drive with a 7-yard strike to Moore in the back of the endzone to give the Bears a 7-0 lead.

Following another Koo missed field goal, Fields drove the Bears' offense right back down the field with Moore's help.

On third and 7 from their own 35, Fields dropped back and lofted a pass to Moore down the left sideline. Moore was lined up in the slot and got a clean release against A.J. Terrell Jr. on the fade route. Fields put the ball on the money, and Moore made a slick over-the-shoulder catch.

That catch gave Moore 1,200 for the first time in his career and moved him into seventh place all-time for most receiving yards in a season in Bears history. Moore finished the game with nine catches for 159 yards and a score.

Fields capped off the drive five plays later with a 9-yard touchdown run on which Moore helped pave the way.

Soldier Field finale?

Fields entered Sunday not knowing if it would be his final start at Soldier Field as the Bears' starting quarterback.

If Sunday was it for Fields in a Bears' uniform on the lakefront, he went out with a flurry.

Fields opened the game with the dot to Moore along the sideline and punctuated the drive with a rope for a 7-yard touchdown.

The first half was Fields at his best. The 24-year-old quarterback played a clean half of football outside of two sacks. He was accurate, made precise throws down the field, and used his athleticism to extend plays with a passer's mindset.

Fields went 13-for-17 for 166 yards and one touchdown while adding 21 yards and a score on the ground. It was one of the best halves of Fields' career and might have been his second-best behind his first half against the Broncos this season, in which he had just one incompletion.

Fields opened the third quarter with a 28-yard pass to Moore over the middle. A 35-yard run by Khalil Herbert got the Bears down inside the 5-yard line, but the drive stalled out after Fields was a tick late on a third-and-goal throw to rookie Tyler Scott in the end zone. Scott made the grab but could not get both feet down in bounds. The Bears settled for a field goal to make it 24-7.

The full Fields experience went into full effect on the Bears' second drive of the third quarter.

Facing a third-and-9, Fields dropped back and was immediately pressured off the right by Bud Dupree. Fields brushed off Dupree but was immediately grabbed by David Onyemata. It should have been a drive-ending sack, but instead, Fields Houdinied his way out of it, shaking off Onyemata and scrambling for 13 yards and a first down.

This was the best version of Fields. A quarterback who can beat you with his arm but with the rare athletic ability to wiggle out of danger and turn a 7-yard loss into a 30-yard gain.

It's unclear what the future holds for Fields, but Sunday was a reminder of how good it can be when everything clicks.

Defense continues dominating

The Bears' defense has been playing at an elite level (outside of two poor fourth-quarter stretches) for almost a month.

That trend continued Sunday against an Atlanta Falcons' offense that had little juice with Taylor Heinicke behind center.

The Bears gave up a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown to running back Tyler Allgeier, but that was their only lapse.

Linebacker T.J. Edwards and cornerback Kyler Gordon each picked off Henicke once, while rookie Tyrique Stevenson grabbed two picks. Rookie Gervon Dexter notched two sacks in his best performance of the season.

As a whole, the Bears' defense allowed just 229 yards on 58 plays for 3.9 yards per play outside of the 75-yard score from Allgeier.

The Bears held running back Bijan Robinson to 75 yards on 15 carries and did not allow tight end Kyle Pitts to get on the score sheet.

With a two-score lead the entire second half, Heinicke and the Falcons' lowly passing attack rarely threatened the Bears' defense.

Sunday's win means little in the big picture for the Bears, but it crystallizes them as a team with a blossoming elite defense that has gone from the dregs of the NFL to the crowded middle, with their arrow pointing up entering 2024.

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