Monday, January 30, 2023

Bears Rookie QB Fields Almost Has His Moment Vs Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Justin Fields almost made headlines on “Monday Night Football.”

The rookie quarterback guided the Chicago Bears to the lead against Pittsburgh with 1:46 remaining, but Ben Roethlisberger responded with the 50th game-winning drive of his 18-year career. Chris Boswell hit a 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds to spare and the Steelers survived a 29–27 victory.

“It was really good for Justin to lead that offense and finish with a touchdown, but in the end we didn’t finish,” said Bears coach Matt Nagy. “We gave them a chance to target that area at the end to win and that’s where we are.”

Making his seventh NFL debut, Fields completed 17 of 29 passes for a career-high 291 yards with touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 45 yards, but the Bears lost their fourth straight and fell 3-6 on aggregate.

Nevertheless, the youngster displayed chivalry and promise in the second half for the Chicago offense – and passing attack – that are ranked last in the league.

It was a second straight week of progress for Fields, as the No. 11 overall draft pick illustrated a growing sense of confidence in his own game after an 11-point loss to San Francisco. In that one, the former Ohio State standout threw for 175 yards, ran for 103 and produced several highlight-reel plays.

A week later, he trailed the Bears by nearly 14 points at the start of the fourth quarter.

“I was just playing football,” Fields said. “I get a good feeling.”

Boswell gave Pittsburgh a 26–20 lead when he scored a 52-yard field goal with 2:52 to play.

That’s when Negi noticed something in his new quarterback.

“I looked at Justin and he had a smile on his face, as if it was his time,” Negi said. “To see it… it was like he was almost expecting this situation to happen and for him to follow it, and make the plays he did, it was a really cool feeling.”

Moving on, Fields called his own number to replace the third and -1. He later joined with Alan Robinson on third and -2 for a 39-yard strike on the right bank and found Darnell Mooney for a 16-yard touchdown pass on the next play, giving Chicago a 27–26 lead with 1:46. Got an edge. .

“My mindset was like, It’s time… here we are,” Fields said. “You can either be the person who always gets into that situation and doesn’t show up, or you can be the person who shows up in the big moments. I was calm and focused on just showing up .

Fields did more than that. Unfortunately for the Bears, he left too much time on the clock for the Roethlisberger and Steelers.

“We know we are on the verge of having a great crime,” Fields said. “We just have to keep working.”

Fields led the Bears on a 12-play drive that resulted in a 30-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter, but it was the lone bright spot during the difficult first half, as Chicago trailed 14-3 at the break. In that final first-half series, the Bears faced first-and-goal from the 10-yard line but could not punch it after a short run and a pair of unfinished passes.

The Bears punt on their first two possessions and Fields threw an interception on the third drive, leading to Pittsburgh’s second touchdown. After a three-and-out, the Bears went deep into Pittsburgh territory, but a sack pushed the offense out of field-goal range.

It was a different story after halftime, as Chicago scored three for six in the second half.

Cairo Santos kicked his second field goal on the opening drive of Chicago’s second half, but the Bears wiped the board with a touchdown after a low-block penalty.

Fields brought Chicago back into reach after another Pittsburgh touchdown. The rookie had a pair of 20-plus yards, setting up Mooney’s 15-yard touchdown run, which pulled the Bears 20-13 at the start of the fourth quarter.

The offense got help from the special teams unit when DeAndre Houston-Carson returned 25 yards for a touchdown, which made it 23–20.

Boswell’s 52-yard field goal made it 26–20 with 2:52 remaining, setting Mooney inside the left side for a further touchdown toss on Fields.

After going back in front of the Steelers, the Bears took the ball back with 26 seconds to go and no time was up. Fields drove him into midfield before Santos’ 65-yard field goal effort fell short.

“When you talk about him and the offense and the growth of our team, that’s a moment,” Negi said. “But in the end, we lost and when you’re in the locker room, it’s a team game, and that’s what we care about.”


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