Dec 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) drops back to pass against the Detroit Lions during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
CHICAGO — A fourth-and-long play is never a good position to be in as an offense.
But the Chicago Bears found themselves in that situation with 1:36 left remaining in the third quarter. After Justin Fields was able to avoid a sack on third down, the offense lined up on fourth-and-13 at the Detroit 38-yard line.
Fields lined up the shotgun with Khalil Herbert to his left. Cole Kmet, Darnell Mooney and Tyler Scott lined up in trips to the right and DJ Moore was isolated on the opposite side. Fields used a hard count, and Aidan Hutchinson went offside. Fields and the offense recognized that critical mistake by the Lions and capitalized with a 38-yard strike to Moore for a touchdown.
Bears head coach Matt Eberflus credited Fields with his throw and Moore with his catch on the play, and also acknowledged the quick reaction to exploit the slower reaction from the Lions’ defensive line.
But there was one key detail that made the play work.
“It’s Justin. It’s the hard count,” Eberflus said. “He did a really good job of hard counting and just a really good job there, and they got them to jump. His use of cadence. That’s what it was.”
The Bears went on to score on the next two offensive drives with a touchdown and field goal, and kept the Lions scoreless in the second half to help Chicago secure a 28-13 victory at Soldier Field.
Kmet said Fields had a “hell of a cadence” on that play. He was lined up to the left of Mooney in the slot, and Kmet even signaled to Mooney like he was going to switch routes, while the offensive line did a good of selling like they were adjusting the protection. Still, Kmet was surprised with what happened.
“I was shocked, shocked, shocked,” Kmet said in the locker room after the game. “Yeah, we all know like okay if they do jump, we all know what we’re getting to. But, yeah, fourth-and-13, we’re at around the 50, yeah it’s kinda like prime take a delay.”
Fields said during his postgame press conference that to sell that type of play is to “treat it like a normal play,” but it also helps that this wasn’t the first time the Bears have been in that situation.
“I mean, it’s not a challenge because we practice it multiple times a week,” Fields said. “We’re used to it. Might have happened like three times this week during practice and walk-throughs. Like I said, we practice it. It happens every week, and the guys are ready for it, and we executed it. It ended up being a big play.”
Lucas Patrick described the fourth-down play as “a master of situational ball.” After Moore caught the ball, he ran through the end zone and into the tunnel, and his teammates were there to celebrate with him.
“It feels good,” Patrick said. “This game is all about one guy doing their job out of 11. If everybody does their job, that’s what happens. The way we practice, the way this locker room has come together, the way we believe in everything no matter what is happening outside, everybody does their job, we see what happens. It’s a good feeling. It’s trust and this locker room trusts each other.”
Execution, trust and communication all showed up on Fields’ touchdown pass to Moore, and it took all 11 members of the offense to make it happen.
The Bears have now won back-to-back games for the first time since Eberflus took over as head coach. There is not just trust in the Bears’ locker room, but also momentum and that is something new for the team as Chicago prepares for its final four games of the regular season.
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