CHICAGO – A three word tweet from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson evidently grabbed Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields’ attention.
“I love adversity,” the tweet read.
So does Fields, apparently.
“I truly do love that,” Fields said following the Bears’ 24-14 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
After finishing with one passing yard, six first downs and averaging 1.1 yard per play in Week 3 against Cleveland, Fields, in his second career start, rebounded to the tune of 209 passing yards, completing 65% of his passes and found a whole different gear in the vertical passing game that had yet to been reached with wideout Darnell Mooney.
“It [adversity] just brings a whole different person out of me,” Fields said. “In some ways, I’m glad last week happened. I think if we would’ve won last week, it wouldn’t have pushed us as much this week to get better and practice hard.”
After a difficult week at Halas Hall surrounding the offensive identity, play-caller and more, the Bears responded with a healthier 373 total yards of offense, averaging 6.5 per gain, which is just the starting point for an offense looking for momentum.
“I didn’t learn anything new [about myself],” Fields said. “I’ve been in tough spots before. My mindset was just to bounce back from last week, so just being better and keep pushing.”
Bears head coach Matt Nagy lauded the entire offense for responding to that adversity.
“The players should get a lot of credit for being able to come out here and do what they did,” Nagy said. ”I can’t say it enough with [Fields] bouncing back from last week. What a great job for him to be able to respond; to learn, to get better. That’s what this game is all about. You’re a rookie quarterback in a tough environment your first start, you come back at home and you bounce back and he did that.”
After three weeks of personally calling offensive plays, Nagy eventually relented that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor “did a great job” calling plays; though, Nagy said of the delegation, “It goes through me.”
The early returns: 12 plays of 10-plus yards, six rushes of 10-plus yards and four passes of 25-plus yards. The offensive line surrendered just one sack after nine the week prior.
“Ultimately it goes through me — everything we do, regardless of everything else, who’s calling this, who’s calling that, it goes through me,” Nagy said. “That part I appreciate because we do it together. Then there’s collaboration to how we do it. I thought our coaches did a great job today. I thought our coaches executed, which is what we asked for.”
“He does good,” Fields said of Lazor. You know, Bill, he’s up in the box, so his voice is always calm. That’s the one thing I like. Coach, it’s hard for him to be calm if he has [to] focus on the defense, focus on special teams. His voice is calm. He’s up there in the box seeing the field well and he did a great job calling plays today.”
Bears running back David Montgomery enjoyed his second-best performance of the season since his 108-yard performance in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. He rushed for 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns, despite leaving in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. As a team, the Bears rushed for 188 total yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
The Bears took an initial 14-0 advantage into the half after the two Montgomery rushing scores. After just 34 yards last week against the Cleveland Browns, Montgomery exceeded that total early in the second quarter.
The Lions first half was marred with two turnovers and a turnover-on-downs for their first three possessions. Quarterback Jared Goff found some rhythm with a 4-yard touchdown pass with Kalif Raymond in the third quarter to put Detroit on the board.
After Cairo Santos’ 33rd consecutive field goal made it, 24-7, Bears, Goff again answered with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Raymond to make it 24-14 with 11:41 in the fourth quarter. Despite a pair of offsides penalties on linebacker Jeremiah Attachou and Eddie Goldman on the Lions’ final drive to prolong it, Goff was unable to connect with Amon-Ra St. Brown on fourth down, effectively ending any chance at a comeback.
Defensively, the Bears held Detroit to 36% third down conversions and sacked Goff four times.
“The NFL is a long season,” Nagy said. “There’s a lot of highs and lows and my job as a leader of these men, everybody, is to make sure that when you have a bad game and you struggle, can you rally back? Can you respond? Because there are a lot of people that don’t. They’re negative and they don’t care and they just want to give up. We’re not doing that. We’re not. And so our players proved it.
“Now when you win, you don’t get complacent. And when you don’t get complacent, you accept the next challenge and you try to get better. But being better on offense, being better on defense, being better on special teams, shows that we have a good football team and I’m just proud of our players for that.”