The Chicago Bears came into their Week 9 “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers sporting the worst statistical offense in the league. They averaged just 264 yards of total offense and just 127 passing yards per game. While they fell to the Steelers 29-27, this matchup was a different story offensively.
Rookie quarterback Justin Fields completed 17 of 29 passes for a career-high 291 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 45 yards as the Bears put up a whopping 414 yards of total offense. While the first half was a struggle, Chicago scored 24 points in the final two quarters. Down 26-20 late in the fourth, Fields led a seven-play, 75-yard drive which resulted in a 16-yard Darnell Mooney touchdown to acquire a one-point lead with less than two minutes left to play. Fields made several big throws on the possession that quieted a raucous Heinz Field. While Ben Roethlisberger answered with what was a game-winning drive minutes later, it was hard not to be impressed with Fields’ huge performance.
Before Fields led that late touchdown drive, Bears head coach Matt Nagy said there was a special moment where he could feel the confidence from his squad on the sideline. He even looked over at his rookie quarterback and saw that he was excited for the moment.
“When they kicked that field goal and went up six, there was a really pretty neat moment just looking on the sideline and you could feel it from the players, like, ‘OK, we fought back to get to this point where a touchdown wins it,’ and then I looked over at Justin and he had this smile on his face where it was like it was his time,” said Nagy. “And to see that, the confidence that gives you as a coach when you see that, I mean it was like he was almost hoping that this was going to be the situation, and then for him to follow through with that and make those plays that he made, it was a really, really good feeling on that sideline. So when you talk about the growth for him and for the offense and just our team in general, that’s a moment.”
Mooney said that Fields kept the offense calm the entire game, even though things were going very wrong for most of the first half.
“He was confident throughout the whole game, I would say the whole offense,” said Mooney. “He kept us calm, he was able to keep us upbeat in letting us know that we can go out there and still score, we’re gonna win the game and just keep us focused.”
Over the past few weeks, the No. 11 overall pick out of Ohio State has been playing much better. While no one questions his arm talent, Fields has been more accurate going downfield and more aggressive in general. He’s been better at finding a rhythm, and when he has found that rhythm, he has shown what he’s capable of in this league.
“My mindset was like, ‘It’s time, we’re here,'” said Fields. “You can either be the guy who always gets put in that position that doesn’t show up or you can be that guy who shows up in the big moments. So I was just calm and just focused on showing up.”