FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Something about Monday Night Football brings out the best in Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears.
Last season, Fields threw for 291 yards in a losing effort to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football at Acrisure Stadium.
But under the lights and in the mist at Gillette Stadium on Monday, the Ghost of George Halas was watching over as the second-year quarterback went into enemy territory and led the Chicago Bears to a 33-14 victory over the New England Patriots.
Fields’ passing yards won’t necessarily wow anybody. He finished the night 13-of-21 for 179 yards and threw a touchdown and interception, but he also added 82 yards on the ground and a three-yard rushing score.
And when the Patriots brought pressure and appeared to have executed the perfect play call, Fields made New England pay.
“I think he played great,” Bears receiver Equanimeous St. Brown said in the locker room after the game. “He led the team. Did what a quarterback needs to do to win the game. I’m excited for us as an offense moving forward and this is a team that can win more games.”
With the Bears trailing 14-10 late in the second quarter, Fields displayed his toughness and ability to adjust on the fly. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy called a screen to Khalil Herbert on the Patriots’ 25-yard line. Fields said after the game this was the second time running the play, but the first time the defensive lineman batted down the pass.
That nearly happened again but Fields pump faked and side-armed the pass to Herbert, who had a wide-open lane for the touchdown. Fields, though, was sandwiched in between two Patriots defenders.
“I didn’t even see it, I got smacked on that play,” Fields said. “I was asking for the ref or asking the ref what he saw on the roughing the passer that’s why I got this like big mark or whatever. But I got smacked on that play so I didn’t even know he scored until like someone came up and told me but yeah.”
On the second offensive drive of the third quarter, Fields made a play that perfectly highlighted his best attributes. New England brought pressure on third-and-7 off the left edge. Fields whipped his body around and cleared himself from lineback Mack Wilson Jr. Then Fields reset and kept looking downfield. He saw Cole Kmet running toward the left sideline and delivered a 26-yard pass where only his tight end could make the catch before taking a shot to the chest.
Even though it’s becoming more frequent to see Fields evade a rush and create a play on his own, his teammates still are impressed with what he is capable of doing.
“He’s elusive. He is very shifty back there and he is always getting the first downs and extending the drive,” Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon said in the locker room after the game. “He just needs to keep doing his thing. We love it.”
History was also made and prevented on Monday night. The Bears notched their first-ever win in Foxborough and Belichick still remains tied with Halas for second-most wins by a head coach and the Bears stay ahead of the Packers in all-time wins. To accomplish something like this it took everyone involved to make the dominant performance a possibility.
During the mini-bye, Bears coach Matt Eberflus said the team would evaluate all phases of his football team, and on Monday night, the offensive game plan involved far more designed quarterback runs than before.
“Yeah, I thought they were good. I thought, you know, it brought a whole different element to our offense,” Fields said. “You know I think we executed that well and there were definitely some explosives in the designed runs for sure.”
The designed runs, a balanced rushing attack from David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, four forced turnovers and Cairo Santos’ four made field goals all were reasons why the Bears came away with 19-point statement win.
And on night that featured plenty of unexpected events, Bears general manager Ryan Poles decided to meet with the media in the press box two hours before the game. He was asked about Fields and if he would be evaluated over multiple seasons or just this one to know if he would be a part of the Bears’ future plans.
“Really we’re taking that just one game at a time and evaluating how he approaches every single game and executes it and then we’ll build long-term from there,” Poles said.
Since Poles is evaluating game by game, Fields’ performance on Monday night only strengthens his likelihood of being viewed as the long-term quarterback Chicago has been desperately needing.
But for that to come to fruition, Fields needs to build off this win and continue showing progress for the remainder of the 2022 season.
“My main goal right now is just to, you know, continue to improve each and every day, each and every game,” Fields said. “So, just going to look at tomorrow what the film, really tonight, on what can I get better and what I can improve on as an individual and what we can improve on as a team. We’re just focused on getting better each and every day.”