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With 43 seconds remaining in the Fiesta Bowl and Ohio State trailing 29-23 against Clemson, Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields lined up in the shotgun on the Tigers’ 22.
On second-and-7, Fields called for the snap, surveyed the field from a clean pocket and rifled a pass in between the words “Ohio” and “State” in the end zone. Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave didn’t finish running his post route because he thought Fields was scrambling. It was miscommunication on what ended up being the last play for Ohio State’s season.
Clemson safety Nolan Turner intercepted the pass. Fields immediately grabbed his helmet with both hands, standing in shock with the realization that the Tigers would be moving on to the National Championship.
It was, of course, a low point in Fields’ football career. But those lows, highs and everything in between are why the current Chicago Bears starting quarterback loves the game.
“I’ve been doing this since I was six years old,” Fields said as the Bears reported to Halas Hall for training camp on Tuesday. “And it’s just … When you’ve been doing something so long, you start to love it more and more. I love the failure that comes with it. I love everything that comes with it because I know that at the end of the day that as long as I give my best and I know what I can do and I know that once we reach our full potential what we’ll be able to do … The failures. The wins. Everything. I just love it.”
Fields remembers how that interception at the end of the 2019 season helped establish a different mindset for the Buckeyes’ football program the following year, catapulting the team in a positive direction for the offseason. Ohio State advanced to the National Championship in 2020.
The 23-year-old quarterback will be hoping for a similar result after his rookie season with the Bears, which involved plenty of ups and downs. Fields started 10 games and threw for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was also sacked 36 times — 10th most in the NFL.
In the Week 14 matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, Fields was intercepted by cornerback Rasul Douglas for a pick-6. The Packers took the lead 14-10 with just under five minutes remaining before halftime. Three plays later, though, Fields connected with Damiere Byrd over the middle of the field for a 54-yard touchdown.
Fields has proven he is capable of learning from his mistakes and moving on to the next play. That’s why as he enters Year 2, he isn’t worried about “showing the league” what he is capable of.
Instead, Fields is focused on getting better each day. Anything from knowing each detail of the offense to playing with good rhythm or simply being calm in high-pressure situations.
“I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, so you know,” Fields said. “Who knows how I would’ve taken it if you know I would’ve had a great game every game? Maybe I wouldn’t have that hunger still. But I mean … I’m going to work, like Lucas (Patrick) said, until we get that Super Bowl trophy. As long as I’m here, I think everybody in the building knows I’m going to work. I’m going to do whatever I can to help us win games to help us be better each and every day. I just think failure pushes me to even go harder. … That’s all I really got to say until we finally win that trophy and get that ring.”