Bears

How can the Chicago Bears improve their 4th-quarter offense?

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus watches a reply during their game against the Lions Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The Bears had another opportunity Sunday to drive down and score a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

They came away empty-handed, again.

Minnesota in Week 5. Washington in Week 6. Miami last week. Detroit on Sunday. The Bears have had plenty of chances for heroics. They fumbled against the Vikings, came up a yard shy against the Commanders, failed to score twice against Miami and couldn’t get it done against the Lions.

On a fourth-and-8 with the game on the line Sunday, quarterback Justin Fields broke two tackles, and it just felt like he would find a way to make a play yet again. But he couldn’t make a third man miss. Lions pass rusher Julian Okwara sacked him, essentially ending the game.

Once again, Fields and the Bears’ offense had an impressive day but couldn’t finish the job in a 31-30 loss to the Lions at Soldier Field. The Bears had five possession in the fourth quarter Sunday and scored on only one of them.

“It just comes down to being able to execute in that moment,” head coach Matt Eberflus said Monday at Halas Hall in Lake Forest. “We’ve got to do a good job of executing if we get to third down or even if we get to fourth down.”

Asked what went wrong on that fourth-down play with the game on the line, Eberflus said the blocking has to be better. Everything is sped up during two-minute drills. Certainly the pressure is on in those moments, too.

Bears receiver Darnell Mooney said after the game that the offense has been performing well during two-minute drills in practice.

Practice is one thing. The game is another.

“There is nothing like the game,” Eberflus said. “You try to create [in] practices game-like situations, where you create that intensity. We do go [first-team offense vs. first-team defense] during training camp when we do those situations, third down, two-minute. It’s never ones versus twos, so we try to create that environment for them.”

Fields has led two fourth-quarter game-winning drives in his career. Both have come this season: Week 1 against San Francisco and Week 3 against Houston.

The Week 1 drive was a 10-play, 84-yard touchdown drive where Fields connected with receiver Equanimeous St. Brown for the go-ahead touchdown. They scored with 12:50 to go in the game, so it was a fourth-quarter score, but there was still a lot of ballgame left.

The winning drive against Houston was set up by a Bears’ interception that gave the offense the ball in the red zone. The offense gained zero yards and kicked a game-winning field goal.

Since then, the offense has struggled with the game on the line.

If the Bears are going to start winning games down the stretch, Fields likely will have to prove that he can stand in the pocket and make a throw when the defense is expecting him to. He can’t single-handedly outrun everyone on every single play.

“[Defenses are] kind of understanding, ‘Hey, it’s full-on pass situations,’” tight end Cole Kmet said Monday. “So we’ve got be able to do a better job in our protections and getting open on routes and things like that.”

Fields ran for more yards (325) in a two-week span than any quarterback ever has, but the Bears didn’t win either game.

That certainly eats at the young QB.

“It’s just, what are you priorities as a player,” Fields said after the game Sunday. “Is it to break records, or is it to win? And, personally, mine is to win.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.