Chicago Bears blow 12-point, 4th-quarter lead in final minutes, spoiling Justin Fields’ return

Playing for 1st time in a month, Fields ran for 104 yards

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields hands off to running back Khalil Herbert during the first half against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Detroit.

DETROIT – Bears quarterback Justin Fields took off running along the left sideline. Running back Roschon Johnson threw him a block and Fields broke free for a 29-yard gain and a first down on what had been a third-and-14 play in the fourth quarter.

After sliding to a stop, Fields did a little dance. He held his hands out and gave his hips a shake.

“I don’t know,” Fields said of the dance. “Just was the first thing that popped into my mind.”

It would be one of the last happy moments for the Bears on Sunday. They scored a field goal on that drive to go up by 12 with 4:20 remaining in the game – then everything crumbled around them.

The Lions scored 17 points in the final four minutes of the game to steal a win, 31-26, from the Bears’ grasp. Jared Goff and the Lions had two quick touchdown-scoring drives, the last one punctuated by a touchdown from former Bears running back David Montgomery.

Fields had one more chance, with 29 seconds remaining, to try and lead a potential game-tying field goal drive. On the first play of the possession, Lions pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson bullied right tackle Darnell Wright, pushing him backward, and stripped the ball from Fields’ hands.

Wright ran after the fumble and kicked it out of the end zone for a safety, which all but ended the game. The Lions received the kickoff after the safety and knelt out the clock.

“I guess in that situation I was thinking, ‘OK, I can jump on it and if I miss jumping on it, they go up a touchdown,’” Wright told Shaw Local after the game. “But when I was going to jump, he kind of pushed me, so then I just kicked it in the back of the end zone and I thought maybe we can get a safety and have another chance or something. I don’t know.”

With a loss, the Bears drop to 3-8 on the season. The Lions extended their lead in the NFC North, and moved to 8-2 on the year.

“We just played a heck of a team,” Fields said. “No. 1 in our division. Probably top three, top five in the league right now. If I’m keeping it real, we should’ve won that game. It just comes down to finishing.”

Fields started his first game since dislocating his thumb on Oct. 15. He missed four games in between, but said on Sunday that the thumb injury didn’t affect him at all. He wore tape on his injured thumb during the game.

Before the injury, Fields hadn’t been running the football nearly as much this season as he did last year. The Bears seemed to catch the Lions by surprise by calling more than a dozen designed runs for the quarterback. Fields finished the afternoon with 104 rushing yards on 18 carries. He also threw for 169 yards and a touchdown on 16-for-23 passing.

“It’s special,” said Johnson, who threw the block on Fields’ longest run of the day. “He’s a special player with his arm and with his leg. He showed that today. He did more than enough for us to get that win. We’ve just got to have his back.”

On the other side of the ball, the Bears defense picked off Goff three times. Prior to Sunday, the Lions’ QB hadn’t thrown multiple interceptions in a game this season. The Bears also forced a fumble on a Lions kick return, making it four takeaways in all.

When it mattered, though, the Lions scored on two quick touchdown drives – one that needed only 1:16 of game time, and another that took only 2:04.

“They just went down the field too fast,” Eberflus said.

The game, too, slipped out of the Bears’ hands just as fast.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.