What we learned as Bears blow early lead in 28-19 loss vs. Packers


CHICAGO – Justin Fields' return Sunday against the Green Bay Packers gave the Bears a massive injection of energy. But it wasn't enough to hand their NFC North rivals a loss at Soldier Field.

The Bears jumped out to a 16-3 lead in the first half behind some typical Fields magic.

But as the Bears have learned over the years, Aaron Rodgers is hard to kill -- even this version.

The Packers cut the lead to six at halftime, and the Bears' offense, weighed down by penalties and conservative play calls, let Rodgers hang around in the second half.

Rodgers and the Packers finally pulled ahead 20-19 with 4:49 remaining, and Jaire Alexander picked off Fields on the ensuing drive to send the Bears' to their eighth loss in nine games.

Here’s what we learned in the Bears’ 28-19 loss to the Packers:

He's baaaaack

It didn’t take long for Fields’ presence to be felt Sunday.

Fields marched the Bears 53 yards on the opening drive, but the drive stalled, and Chicago settled for a field goal.

On the second drive, Fields made sure the Bears found pay dirt.

Facing a second-and-10 from their own 45-yard line, Fields kept it on a zone read, juked Packers cornerback Keisan Nixon and raced 55 yards for a touchdown to put the Bears up 10-0.

But the first half wasn’t just about Fields’ legs. On the Bears’ next drive, Fields tossed a dime to Equanimeous St. Brown for a 56-yard gain down to the Packers’ 5-yard line.

David Montgomery finished the drive on the next play with a 5-yard rushing score.

In the first half, Fields went 7-for-9 for 126 yards while adding 70 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The Bears' offense was less effective in the second half, but Fields still finished with 254 yards passing and 71 yards on the ground. He was picked off on each of the Bears' final two drives.

Valiant defensive effort

The Bears came into Sunday’s game short-handed in the secondary. Safety Eddie Jackson (Lisfranc) is out for the season, while rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker both missed their second consecutive game with a concussion. When the Bears announced cornerback Kindle Vildor was inactive with an ankle injury before the game, their prospects of stopping Rodgers appeared thin.

But the Bears’ defense put together a salty defensive effort in the first half at Soldier Field.

The Bears forced the Packers to punt on their first drive and held them to a field goal on their second possession.

Down 10-3 midway through the second quarter, the Packers elected to go for it on fourth-and-7 from the Bears’ 36-yard line. Rodgers looked deep for Randall Cobb, but DeAndre Houston-Carson had good coverage on the play and the pass sailed long and out of the end zone.

The Packers finally broke the seal on the end zone at the end of the second quarter when Rodgers found rookie Christian Watson for a 14-yard on fourth-and-4 from the Bears’ 14-yard line. Watson beat rookie safety Elijah Hicks and Rodgers threw a strike to cut the deficit to 16-10.

Playing with fire

The Bears had an opportunity to extend their lead in the third quarter, but some questionable play-calling and some penalties stalled the offense in the third quarter.

Chicago went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half. A Cole Kmet false start put them behind the chains, and a screen to Chase Claypool was blown up to end the possession.

Fields drove the Bears into the red zone on their next possession. But Teven Jenkin was flagged for holding on first-and-goal from the 9-yard line, and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy went conservative from that point on as the Bears settled for a field goal.

The Packers quickly answered the Bears' field goal with a four-play touchdown drive that was aided by two defensive penalties on the Bears. A.J. Dillon's 21-yard touchdown run cut the Bears' lead to 19-17 with 14 minutes to play.

A Fields strike to N'Keal Harry for 49 yards on the ensuing drive got the Bears into Packers territory. More questionable play calls from Getsy stalled the drive, and Cairo Santos' 40-yard field goal came up short to keep it a two-point game.

Rodgers immediately marched the Packers 56 yards in 13 plays, with Mas Crosby's 32-yard field goal giving Green Bay a 20-19 lead with 4:49 remaining.

Another chance to play hero

Fields and the Bears' offense have had several opportunities to complete a game-winning drive this season. They had been unsuccessful entering Sunday.

When Crosby's kick sailed through the uprights, Fields had 4:49 to take the next step in his ascension.

But once again, it was not to be.

After hitting Kmet for a gain of 13 to the Green Bay 43, Fields' next pass was picked off by Jaire Alexander, ending another Bears' comeback attempt.

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