Fields continues to show progress while Bears lose again

December 13, 2021 GMT
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette via AP)
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette via AP)
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette via AP)
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Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette via AP)
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Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette via AP)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Justin Fields continued to show signs he is progressing toward becoming the quarterback the Chicago Bears envision.

In a season where the losses continue to pile up, that matters more than anything else.

Fields mixed promising flashes and missteps in a 45-30 loss at Green Bay on Sunday night, throwing for 224 yards and running for 74 more after missing back-to-back games with broken ribs.

“He can make some special throws,” coach Matt Nagy said Monday. “He does that. He’s proven it. But now when you throw that element of using his legs on extended plays, that’s hard. That’s hard. That’s going to be a big weapon for him.”

The Bears (4-9) are reeling with seven loss in eight games. And the result against Green Bay was an all-too-familiar one.

Aaron Rodgers showed again that he still owns the Bears, throwing for 341 yards and four touchdowns despite a broken toe that’s limited him in practice. Green Bay beat Chicago for the 21st time in 24 games and completed the season sweep.

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As for Fields?

Coming off a string of promising performances prior to his injury, he had his moments in this one.

He shook off a 55-yard interception return in the second quarter by Rasul Douglas, who sprinted in front of Darnell Mooney near the sideline to pick off a soft and late pass and then went untouched to the end zone.

A few plays later, Fields hit Damiere Byrd with a quick pass in the middle. That turned into a 54-yard score.

But the Bears were outscored 24-3 after halftime and didn’t get a first down until less than five minutes remained.

WHAT’S WORKING

Special teams. The Bears dominated in the return game.

Jakeem Grant was simply spectacular, returning three punts for a career-high 131 yards. That included a dazzling 97-yard touchdown — the longest punt return for a score by any Bears player since at least 1960, which is as far back as the team’s data on that statistic goes. It was also the first punt return for a TD this season in the NFL.

Rookie Khalil Herbert had a big game, too. The sixth-round draft pick returned five kickoffs for 128 yards and recovered an onside kick late in the game.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The defense. The 45 points were the most against the Bears since a 48-23 loss to Arizona on Sept. 20, 2015.

It wasn’t a great night for the secondary, particularly once the Packers moved Davante Adams away from cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Adams dominated Xavier Crawford when he was matched with him in the slot and finished with 121 yards on 10 receptions. Green Bay racked up 439 yards.

STOCK UP

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Grant. Acquired in a trade with Miami in October, Grant didn’t just shine on special teams. He had a big play when he caught a flip pass in the backfield and turned it into a 46-yard TD. That gave the sixth-year pro touchdown catches in back-to-back games, including an 8-yarder late in the loss to Arizona last week.

STOCK DOWN

WR Allen Robinson. After missing the past three games because of a hamstring injury, Robinson had just two catches for 14 yards. The veteran receiver, playing on the franchise tag, has not developed a connection with Fields. His production has dropped in a huge way with 32 receptions for 353 yards coming off one of his best seasons.

INJURIES

Fields bruised his non-throwing, left hand, though Nagy didn’t seem too concerned. ... Nagy said S DeAndre Houston-Carson has a fractured forearm and will need surgery. ... Nagy said the Bears were still determining the severity of LT Jason Peters’ ankle injury after he was hurt in the first quarter. Nagy didn’t rule out the possibility of moving Larry Borom from right tackle to left tackle and going with Teven Jenkins at right tackle if it’s clear Peters won’t be available to play against Minnesota on Monday night. ... The Bears will monitor LB Roquan Smith after he hurt the hamstring that’s been bothering him lately in the second half. ... DL Khyiris Tonga (stinger) got banged up. ... DT Akiem Hicks (ankle) missed a fourth straight game, though Nagy said he was “close” to being available. ... Chicago placed DE Mario Edwards Jr. on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday.

KEY NUMBER

14 — Sacks for LB Robert Quinn after the two-time Pro Bowler had a pair against the Packers. Hall of Famer Richard Dent holds the club record with 17 1/2 in 1984. Quinn had two sacks in 15 games last season — his first with the Bears.

NEXT STEPS

The Bears will try to contain Dalvin Cook when they host the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

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