Fields injured in heartbreaking loss to Falcons
|Sunday, November 20, 2022, 5:43 PM- -|
ATLANTA - It was a tale of two halves at Mercedez Benz Stadium on Sunday as the Chicago Bears (3-8) went to battle with the Atlanta Falcons (5-6). After an exciting first half that saw NFL history being made and a total of 34 combined points being scored, things were drastically different in the second half.
Exactly one-half of the 34 points were scored in the second half, with 10 going to the Falcons and seven to the Bears. Unfortunately for Chicago, that three-point difference was too much to overcome as the Falcons topped the Bears 27-24 to remain in the NFC South Race.
Love him or hate him, this is Justin Fields team now, and this team will continue to evolve around him. When it comes to passing, Fields is getting better, but with just 153 yards and one score, he still needs a ton of work. However, he continues to make things happen with his legs leading the team with 85 yards rushing while adding another score. At this rate, he will be a 1000-yard rusher this season which is no easy feat for a QB.
Getting back to the first half that was filled with non-stop action; the Falcons wasted no time scoring taking the opening kick, and going 10 plays for 75 yards. Marcus Mariota had the passing game working early as he hooked up with Kyle Pitts for a nice 16-yard gain. That helped open things up with several short-yardage plays keeping the chains moving before Drake London capped off the opening drive with a two-yard score to make things 7-0.
Chicago not only answered that touchdown, but were blessed with a short field as Velus Jones took the ensuing kick off 55 yards to set the offense up in Falcons territory. With Khalil Herbert on IR, David Montgomery will be getting more touches as he got things started on the Bears first drive.
Throw in some yards from Fields, and the offense was moving before Fields hooked up with Darnell Mooney for 16 yards and tied things up 7-7. Despite the Bears defense playing terribly the last several weeks, you had to give them some credit in the first half as they put the clamps down on the Atlanta offense to force two punts. Throw in the Bears punts, and both teams went several minutes without a score as things remained 7-7.
With the second quarter now underway, it was the Montgomery show early as he was starting to do his part on the ground. That helped set things up in the passing game, where Fields hooked up with his new favorite target Cole Kmet for 27 yards. That was followed by the Cairo Santos field goal to give the Bears a 10-7 lead.
Chicago's defense continued to set the tone as they forced a Cordarrelle Patterson fumble on the first play from scrimmage and gave the ball right back to the Chicago offense. Seven plays later, and it was 17-7 as Fields hooked up with Eqanimeous St. Brown to set the ball up inside the 10 before finishing the drive off with his legs.
The rest of the first half belonged to the Falcons as Patterson responded to that fumble in a big way on the next kick. Known for big returns, Patterson ran one out of the endzone, found the seam, and raced 103 yards for the score to make things 17-14. That was also his ninth career kickoff return for a score giving him the most in NFL history.
Looking for more offense to close out the half, Chicago had a chance, but Cairo Santos saw his 56-yard field goal hit the crossbar as the Bears remained in front by three. The Falcons would connect for a 40-yard field goal late in the first half as the teams headed to the locker room tied 17-17.
Given how things went in the first half, you had to think the second half would be equally as exciting. Instead, it was a pair of defenses that allowed only 23 yards across the first three possessions, but saw three punts come from it. Midway through the third quarter, the Falcons put together a lengthy eight-play drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock.
That started with a 17-yard reception by Mycole Pruitt as Mariota had the passing game working. A couple of trick plays later saw the Falcons move the ball downfield before a costly roughing the passer call moved the ball inside Bears territory. Mariota closed the drive by showing off his legs as his 10-yard score gave the Falcons the 24-17 lead.
Needing points, the Bears got the ball back late in the third and then proceeded to take up the rest of that quarter plus half of the fourth with a 13-play drive. A large part of that drive was filled with short-yardage plays, including an excellent third-down hookup with Chase Claypool. Montgomery then broke through the defense for an 18-yard run as the Bears offense started rolling.
Fields added another excellent completion to St. Brown, but the running game took over from there, with Montgomery closing things out from two yards to tie things back up at 24. With eight minutes left in the game, the Falcons offense got the ball back, and they decided to give the Bears defense a taste of their own medicine.
Granted, the yardage may not have been much, but a 12-play, six-plus minute drive will take a toll on anyone as the Bears defense made the Falcons offense earn all those yards. Chicago did a great job of keeping Atlanta out of the end zone, but a 53-yard field goal saw the Bears trailing 27-24 with less than two minutes to go.
Looking to play hero late in the game, Fields saw his intended pass to Montgomery get intercepted as Atlanta sealed the 27-24 victory on that play. He was hurt earlier in the drive.
"I don't even know what happened to be honest with you," Fields said to the media following the loss. "It was just hurting after that play."
"I'm just going to take it day by day," Fields later said. The pain right now is pretty bad. Again, I'm just going to take it day by day and see how it feels later in the week."
For the first time in over a month, Chicago was held under 200 yards rushing, but still ran for better than 150, with Montgomery adding 67. Montgomery also had a great day in the passing game, leading the way with 53 yards.
Mariota had a very pedestrian day on the afternoon, completing 13-20 passes for 131 yards and one score. Tyler Allgeier led the way with 55 yards rushing, with Patterson chipping in with 52 in the win.