The Bears forced three takeaways against the NFL's top offense and quarterback Justin Fields continued to make history, but it ultimately wasn't enough in a 25-20 loss to the Eagles Sunday at Soldier Field.
"I thought that our guys did a good job of battling, but we have to learn how to finish better," coach Matt Eberflus said. "We have to learn how to finish. That's one of the things we need to get done here in the next few games. That's the biggest thing, biggest takeaway for me as the head football coach."
The Bears defense had one of its best outings of the season against the Eagles with a pair of interceptions, forced fumble, fumble recovery and turnover on downs, but also gave up rushing three touchdowns by Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Cornerback Kyler Gordon intercepted Hurts in the first quarter, then safety DeAndre Houston-Carson picked another pass off in the second quarter. Gordon also recovered a fumble, which was forced by tackle Mike Pennel Jr. in the third period. However, the Bears offense totaled just seven points off the takeaways.
"When we take the ball into that plus field, inside that 30, 35-yard line, either through special teams or taking the ball away, which we did, the offense has got to score touchdowns," Eberflus said. "That's how you put guys away. You create momentum that way and I think that's something we have to learn to do as a football team. Conversely, when it happens to the defense, you gotta hold them to field goals. It happens when a return comes into that situation, an interception, you're right there, and you just need to bow up and make them kick field goals."
Fields broke the Bears' single-season rushing record by a quarterback after running for 95 yards on 15 attempts, passing Bobby Douglass who rushed for 968 yards in 1972. Fields is also over the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season, making him just the third NFL quarterback in history to achieve the milestone. In the passing game, Fields completed 14 of 21 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, earning a 119.5 passer rating, the second highest of his career.
"I don't plan on rushing for a thousand yards every year," Fields said. "Like I said before, it's an honor. It's a blessing from God. Like I said, I couldn't do it without my coaches and teammates."
Hurts completed 22 of 37 pass attempts for 315 yards and threw two interceptions. The QB was the Eagles' leading rusher with 61 yards on 17 attempts, scoring all three Philadelphia touchdowns. Receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith each put up 100+ yards, combining for 14 catches.
With a seventh straight loss, the Bears fell to 3-11 while the Eagles improved to 13-1.
On their first drive of the game, the Bears reached the Philadelphia 30, but ultimately turned the ball over on downs after being stopped on fourth-and-3. Two false start penalties early in the possession set the Bears back, but on third-and-10, Fields completed a 20-yard pass to receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who was injured on the play and missed the rest of the game after being placed in concussion protocol. On the ensuing down, right guard Teven Jenkins went down and was carted off the field on a stretcher with a neck injury. Eberflus told reporters after the game Jenkins was taken to the hospital.
"[Jenkins] was responsive," Eberflus said. "We could see him moving his hands out there. Again, I don't know much more than that. They just told me it's encouraging. That's all I got from the medical staff right now."
Gordon, who returned Sunday after missing the previous two games with a concussion, picked off Hurts at the Chicago 17 on the Eagles' first possession of the game. On the play prior, Hurts scrambled out of the pocket and hit Smith for a 21-yard gain on third-and-3. The Eagles rushed to the line of scrimmage to get the next play off, but Gordon leapt high in the air to intercept a ball intended for Brown, his second interception of the season. However, the Bears offense was unable to capitalize as Fields was sacked on third-and-10 at the Chicago 25.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles took a 3-0 lead as kicker Jake Elliott made a 32-yard field goal with 11:50 remaining in the first half. Hurts connected with Smith for the first time Sunday on a 45-yard completion then hit Brown with a 16-yard pass to reach the Chicago 18. An offensive holding penalty set the Eagles back 10 yards, then on second-and-19, cornerback Jaylon Johnson deflected Hurts' pass intended for Brown in the end zone. The Bears defense held the Eagles on the following play as safety Jaquan Brisker pushed Brown out of bounds six yards short of the sticks, bringing the field goal unit out.
Running back David Montgomery gave the Bears a 6-3 lead with a 9-yard rushing touchdown with 6:47 left in the second quarter. On the play prior to Montgomery's TD, Fields turned a potential sack into a 39-yard gain after scrambling away from pressure then taking off down the left sideline before stepping out of bounds at the 9. Kicker Cairo Santos missed the ensuing extra point.
"Just special," Eberflus said of Fields' 39-yard run. "I mean, I was on the far side, moving my head, trying to figure out what he was doing. He stayed inbounds and kept going. Exciting player to watch."
With the big run, Fields broke the Bears' single-season rushing record by a quarterback, previously held by Bobby Douglass who rushed for 968 yards in 1972. The Bears nearly turned it over on the previous play as Fields was sacked by linebacker Haason Reddick and fumbled the ball at the 40, but tackle Alex Leatherwood recovered it at the 48. Fields also had a 21-yard completion to Montgomery on the drive, which initially brought the Bears into Eagles territory.
The Bears defense forced another takeaway as Houston-Carson intercepted Hurts at the Philadelphia 43 then returned it 18 yards to the 25. Heading into Sunday's matchup, Hurts had thrown just three interceptions this season. The Bears offense once again failed to turn the takeaway into points as Fields was sacked for a loss of 11 yards on third-and-16. Instead of attempting a 49-yard field goal, the Bears opted to punt.
A 22-yard rushing touchdown by Hurts gave the Eagles a 10-6 lead with under a minute to go in the first half. The Eagles' 9 play, 91-yard scoring drive was fueled by Hurts' 38-yard pass to Smith down the right sideline on third-and-3 to reach the Bears' 24. Then on third-and-8 from the 22, the Bears blitzed, but Hurts read it well and ran right up the middle untouched for the score.
"We had two guys in the same gap," Eberflus said of the touchdown run. "Safety is supposed to be in the other gap. We should have had that. That's unfortunate that that happened. I think Alan called a great pressure there in that situation. That's what it was."
The Eagles opened up the second half with another touchdown drive to go up 17-6 as Hurts found the end zone on a 1-yard QB sneak. Philadelphia started the possession at the Chicago 42 after running back Boston Scott took the kickoff return 58 yards. Hurts and Brown connected on another deep ball, this time a 29-yard gain to the right corner, two yards shy of the end zone. Two plays later, Hurts punched it in to extend the Eagles' lead. Linebacker Jack Sanborn injured his ankle on the drive and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
After a third takeaway by the Bears defense, the offense capitalized with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Montgomery, pulling within 17-13 with 8:45 left in the third quarter. On the first play of the Eagles drive, Hurts completed a pass to running back Miles Sanders, but as he turned upfield, Pennel forced the ball out from behind Gordon recovered the fumble at the 27. The rookie returned it 15 yards, setting the Bears offense up at the Philadelphia 15. Three plays later, Fields completed a short pass to Montgomery, who had a clear path to the end zone.
The Eagles recorded their first takeaway of the game as linebacker T.J. Edwards forced a fumble from receiver Velus Jones Jr. and Reddick recovered the ball at the Philadelphia 43. The Bears defense came up big on the ensuing possession, as linebacker Joe Thomas sacked Hurts for a loss of six yards to bring up third-and-15, and on fourth-and-6, Hurts' pass intended for Brown was knocked away by cornerback Jaylon Johnson, forcing a turnover on downs. However, the offense went three-and-out on their ensuing possession.
Philadelphia looked to extend its lead with a 38-yard field goal, but Elliot's kick hit the right upright, allowing the Bears offense to take over at the Chicago 28 with 8:25 to play. While the Eagles went 76 yards with 19 plays, the Bears defense forced back-to-back incompletion by Hurts, bringing up fourth-and-10 from the 20. However, the Eagles defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back. Fields reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the drive but left the game favoring his right leg, bringing in backup QB Nathan Peterman. Fields missed just one play and Eberflus told reporters after the game the quarterback was dealing with cramps.
"It was important," Fields said on getting back in the game. "Every time I get a chance to play, I'm going to want to be out there with my guys. They fight. Like I said before, they're the only reason I play. I play for them and God and really nobody else."
Hurts scored a 1-yard touchdown on another QB sneak then converted the two-point try with a 1-yard rush to put the Eagles up 25-13 with 4:20 remaining in the game. On third-and-6, Hurts threw a perfect deep ball to Brown for a 68-yard gain, reaching the Chicago 3. After a pair of runs by Sanders, Hurts took it in for the score.
The Bears cut the deficit to 25-20 with 2:43 to play after Fields connected with open receiver Byron Pringle deep down the right side for a 35-yard touchdown. Fields completed passes to tight end Cole Kmet and receiver Nsimba Webster to reach the Philadelphia 35 before throwing his second TD pass of the day.
The Bears attempted an onside kick, but Philadelphia recovered at the Chicago 44. The Bears defense had a chance to get off the field on third-and-6 from the 40, but Hurts hit Brown over the middle for a 12-yard gain to seal the game.
Check out the on-field action as the Bears take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field.