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After Further Review

Bears QB Justin Fields, offense show improvement

Bright spots for the Bears in Sunday's 31-28 loss to the Broncos were provided by quarterback Justin Fields and the offense.

Demonstrating accuracy throughout, Fields set career highs with 335 yards, four touchdowns and a 132.7 passer rating in the game. He staked the Bears to a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter by completing 23 of 24 passes—including a franchise-record 16 straight—with his only incompletion coming on a Hail Mary as time expired in the first half.

Fields spread the ball around to receivers DJ Moore (8 receptions for 131 yards and one TD) and Darnell Mooney (4-51-0) and tight end Cole Kmet (7-85-2). The Bears also rushed for 171 yards on 31 carries, led by Khalil Herbert's 103 yards on 18 attempts. 

"I felt like there was more of an identity to the offense," Kmet said, "and you could feel that out there, especially for those first three quarters. 

"You saw what DJ and 'Moon' can do to stretch the field, and I was able to get some stuff underneath. High-level execution in the run game as well. You saw Khalil do some really good things. You saw a good mesh of everything that you kind of wanted to see at times. Hopefully, we can do more of that and kind of keep progressing with it."

After punting on the Bears' first possession, Fields threw TD passes on three straight drives, all in the second quarter. 

"I thought the first half was really good," said coach Matt Eberflus. "A lot of good things, a lot of good moments. Certainly saw the offense gelling in a lot of good ways in terms of being in sync in the passing game, getting the run game going, getting our skill, getting the targets going in there. I thought that was really good. I thought the plays by Luke [Getsy] and the offensive staff were really good, too, in terms of highlighting Justin's skill. He felt very comfortable in there and you could see that as we went through the game."

Unfortunately Denver scored 24 unanswered points in the final 19 minutes of the game to turn a 28-7 deficit into a 31-28 win. Fields committed two turnovers: a strip sack that was returned for a touchdown and a game-sealing interception. The Bears also turned the ball over on downs with 2:52 remaining and the score tied 28-28 when Herbert was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Broncos' 18. 

Defensively, the Bears forced four straight Denver punts before permitting two touchdowns and the game-winning field goal on three possessions. 

"We've got to do a better job of finishing," Eberflus said. "We've got to do a better job of executing down the stretch. We had some moments there. We had a couple series on defense that we needed to execute better during that time, and then obviously protecting the ball at the very end there is very important as you finish games." 

Eberflus on Monday reiterated his decision to try to pick up a first down on fourth-and-1 from the 18 instead of kicking a potential go-ahead field goal. Lining up in the shotgun, Fields handed off on a read option to Herbert. 

"We got our play selection there and got together with the offensive staff and that's the play that we liked down there going forward," Eberflus said. "If we execute in that moment, we're going to get it, and we're still going to have a chance to seal the game. They certainly would still have time, but the win probability goes up there. 

"You score a touchdown there in that moment, you're taking timeouts and time away from their offense. We feel good about that too. We're trying to seal the game right there and do a good job of capturing the game at that moment. We liked where we were running the ball at that time as an offense, certainly that drive, as well, being able to punch it in there for a yard."

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