CHICAGO – The slip ’n slide felt so good.
After a hard-fought victory, 19-10, for the Bears over the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field on Sunday, it was the perfect way to celebrate. Justin Fields knelt down on the final snap, then led his teammates on a sprint to the end zone, where they belly flopped onto the sopping grass and slid a good 10 yards each.
“That was awesome,” Fields said. “We talked about it right before we took the last knee. All the guys were excited to run to the end zone and do that. That was a snapshot moment, for sure.”
The Bears had earned their celebration. They overcame a 10-0 deficit and beat a 49ers team that reached the NFC Championship game a year ago. Fields threw a pair of touchdown passes and the Bears scored three second-half touchdowns.
The offense overcame some early struggles – particularly along the offensive line – to rebound. They had some help from their defense, too, with turnovers from safeties Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson. Fields finished his day 8-for-17 passing for 121 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 28 yards on 11 carries.
It was quite a second half, considering that Fields completed only three passes in the first half for 19 yards and threw an interception. The first spark came late in the third quarter when Fields escaped a collapsing pocket, turned around and saw a wide open Dante Pettis across the field.
Pettis waved his hands like a madman. There wasn’t a defender within 16 yards of him, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Fields put a little extra air under the ball and lobbed up an easy one for Pettis, who turned and ran it in for a 51-yard touchdown, with the help of a blocker ahead of him.
“It did feel like it was hanging up there for a while, but you don’t really think: ‘Don’t drop it,’” Pettis told Shaw Local afterward. “You just focus on the catch and get busy after it. You can’t be thinking don’t drop it because if you put negative thoughts in your head, that’s when bad stuff happens.”
Given the wet conditions, it was probably the right move to loft the ball a little extra. 49ers quarterback Trey Lance struggled later in the game with a wet football. Fields wore gloves for most of the game, though he did take them off for at least one drive.
On that play, the pocket had collapsed from both sides. Head coach Matt Eberflus was impressed with his quarterbacks’ poise in that situation.
“The vision by Justin to see that and throw it back there was a great play,” Eberflus said. “And that’s the kind of plays he can make. That’s what makes him dangerous because he can throw on-schedule throws, but man, he’s got the off-schedule throws too.”
One possession later, the Bears put together a 10-play, 84-yard drive that was capped by a Fields touchdown pass to receiver Equanimeous St. Brown. Both scoring drives were aided by significant 49ers penalties. The Bears committed only three penalties, compared to 12 for the 49ers.
Jackson had his interception soon after that and set up the offense with a short field. Better field position helped out the offense a lot in the second half.
“We were just trying to get in a rhythm and we were backed up [early in the game],” Fields said. “So when you’re backed up like that, you just can’t use the whole playbook. But second half found our rhythm and we executed stuff.”